Matthew Bourne has been announced as the recipient of this year’s Special Award at the Olivier Awards 2019 with Mastercard, in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in dance.
Hailed by many as the UK’s most successful living choreographer and director, Bourne has created and directed dance for musicals, theatre and film for 30 years, receiving numerous international accolades including seven Olivier Awards. This Special Award will be Bourne’s eighth Olivier Award, making him joint holder of the most ever Olivier Awards, alongside Judi Dench.
Kenny Wax, president of the Society of London Theatre, said:
“The Society of London Theatre is delighted to acknowledge Matthew Bourne’s extraordinary achievements in dance with this year’s Special Olivier Award. Matthew has transformed the landscape of dance in this country and across the globe with his bold, innovative and popular work, loved by audiences around the world.”
As artistic director of his first company, Adventures in Motion Pictures (1987-2002), Bourne’s award-winning work included Spitfire, Nutcracker!, Highland Fling, Cinderella and The Car Man – as well as Swan Lake, which went on to become the longest-running ballet in the West End and on Broadway, and be performed all over the world.
In 2002, with co-director Robert Noble, Bourne launched New Adventures, now a hugely influential exporter of British dance around the world. With the company, Bourne has premiered iconic productions including Play Without Words, Edward Scissorhands, Sleeping Beauty and The Red Shoes. This year sees the world premiere of Bourne’s 12th full-length production, Romeo and Juliet, which involves young dance talent from across the UK performing alongside the New Adventures company.
Bourne has created choreography for several major musicals, including Cameron Mackintosh’s productions of Oliver! and My Fair Lady, the National Theatre’s revival of South Pacific, and the 2004 production of Mary Poppins (with Stephen Mear), which returns to the West End later this year.
Awarded the OBE for Services to Dance in 2001, Bourne was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2016 for services to dance, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award in recognition of his outstanding services to the art of ballet.
The Olivier Awards return to the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 7 April. This year’s nominations will be announced on Tuesday 5 March and further details of the ceremony – including the host – will also be announced soon. Past recipients of the Special Award include Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Sondheim, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.