News: Dance in the 2016 New Year's Honours list

Monday 4 January 2016 by carmel smith

Sir Matthew Bourne. Photo: Hugo Glendinning.

Dance is well represented in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list with a Knighthood for choreographer Matthew Bourne, a CBE for English National Ballet’s Tamara Rojo and an OBE for choreographer Christopher Wheeldon.

Sir Matthew Bourne, who was awarded an OBE in 2001 for services to dance, now becomes the first dance Knight to have emerged from a background other than one of the mainstream ballet companies. He grew up in East London, didn’t start dancing until he was 22 and – since the mid 1990s and his version of Swan Lake, which famously uses male dancers as the swans – has played a huge role in the development of contemporary dance theatre and bringing it to wide audiences.

“This news has come as a great surprise to me, but I couldn’t be more thrilled and honoured to be recognised in this way,” he said. “As Artistic Director of an independent contemporary dance company that started as a group of friends in the late eighties this comes as a very significant recognition of what that company has achieved in the last 28 years. I am particularly proud to be, I believe, the first dance Knight outside of the National Ballet companies and would like to thank all of my colleagues in New Adventures and Re:Bourne, my friends in the wider dance and theatre communities and the loyal audiences throughout the UK, without whom, I would not still be here”

Watch Matthew Bourne talking about the award to BBC News


Tamara Rojo, who has transformed English National Ballet since taking the role of Artistic Director with the company in 2012, received a CBE for services to ballet. She said: “I am truly humbled to receive this honour. I owe so much to the UK already, it has given me so many opportunities and great fulfilment and happiness during the 18 years that it has been my home.
I believe that art and culture improve and enrich the lives of those who experience them. And so I have dedicated myself to making dance, as well as the arts in general, as open and accessible to as many people as possible.
I am so happy and thankful to receive this honour, and it further inspires to me continue to work passionately for ballet and the arts.”


Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon receives an OBE for services to dance. An Artistic Associate with the Royal Ballet, his recent works for the Company include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. He also works choreographs regularly for leading international companies, including Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet – and is an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells.

The Founder and Artistic Director of the National Youth Ballet of Great Britain, Jill Tookey, receives the CBE for services to Dance and Young People.

The 2016 New Years Honours List in full

Photo of Matthew Bourne by Hugo Glendinning

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