News: Happy Birthday Robert Cohan

Friday 20 May 2005

At the end of a gala evening celebrating his life and work – and marking his 80th birthday, Robert Cohan was presented with the National Dance Awards special committee prize in recognition of his lifetime’s achievement in dance.

The award was presented by Dame Beryl Grey on behalf of the Critics’ Circle. This prize is the latest honour for Cohan this year, and capped a weekend of events organised by The Place for this anniversary. Cohan was founder and Artistic Director of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre and LCDT School and was its helm for twenty years through the seventies and eighties.

The programme at Sadlers Wells on 9 May included two dancers from Richard Alston’s company, in one of Cohan’s earliest works Eclipse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, whose director Darshan Singh Bhuller danced for Cohan, presented Forest (1977) and Ballet Theatre Munich (whose director Philip Taylor was another LCDT dancer) performed Stabat Mater (1975).

Ian Fisher, Chair of The Place, opened the celebrations by announcing The Place’s birthday present for Cohan: new bursaries to support the training of six talented young dancers over the next six years at London Contemporary Dance School.

The weekend continued with a study day at The Place exploring the full range of Cohan’s work and legacy.

The programme at Sadlers Wells on 9 May included two dancers from Richard Alston’s company, in one of Cohan’s earliest works Eclipse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, whose director Darshan Singh Bhuller danced for Cohan, presented Forest (1977) and Ballet Theatre Munich (whose director Philip Taylor was another LCDT dancer) performed Stabat Mater (1975).

In the programmes for the Sadler’s Wells performance that brought the weekend to a rousing close, Clement Crisp, dance critic of the Financial Times, wrote: _*“Robert Cohan’s was the power, the knowledge, the skill, the sheer persistence and the dedication that found how contemporary dance might be made to flourish in a new land.”* _

Richard Alston, one of Cohan’s original students at The Place and now his successor as Artistic Director, said: “Dancers and dance lovers of every generation have come together this weekend to share and celebrate the work of Robert Cohan. Through his bursaries, another new generation will benefit and draw inspiration from this extraordinary man, and that seems to be the perfect way for us to say: ‘Happy Birthday, Bob’.”

Image: ‘Forest’ in rehearsal with Robert Cohan, Darshan Singh Buller and Phoenix dancers, 2005 Photo: Anthony Crickmay

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press reviews

interview with Robert Cohan/Darshan Singh Buller

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