London Contemporary Dance School
Image: Camilla Greenwell
NSCD has announced its 2019 Honorary Fellows, this year both of whom are alumni of the school: renowned choreographer Akram Khan MBE and ACE Dance and Music founder Gail Parmel.
The awards were conferred as part of the School’s graduation ceremony on Saturday 6 July.
The highest honour the School is able to bestow, the fellowships are awarded each year to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the School, contemporary dance and the wider cultural ecology. Since 2017 Honorary Fellowships have gone to alumna Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, Miranda Tufnell, author of Body, Space, Image: Notes Towards Improvisation, Wayne McGregor, and alumnus Gary Clarke. See the full list here.
Upon presenting the awards, NSCD Principal Janet Smith said:
“We are proud of the enormous achievement of our new Honorary Fellows, and also that they are our alumni. Each in their unique way, whether drawing from traditional Indian Kathak dance or traditionally rooted African and Caribbean Contemporary dance, has made an outstanding contribution to expanding our understanding of what contemporary dance is and can be in the 21st century and the voices and stories we can hear.”
After leaving NSCD in 1998, Akram Khan created Akram Khan Company, known for provocative and ambitious productions and now regarded as one of the world’s leading innovative dance companies. As well as a range of outreach and collaborative work, the company enjoys tours that reach out to numerous cultures and people across the globe. Akram has received various accolades including two Olivier Awards – Best New Dance Production for DESH in 2012 and Outstanding Achievement in Dance for XENOS in 2019 – and was invited to choreograph a section of the 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Akram Khan, working overseas at the time of the ceremony, sent the following message:
“I feel honoured and grateful to accept this award. The Northern School of Contemporary Dance means a great deal to me. My time at the School shaped the way I create work, the way I conduct myself with others, and the way I practice. My time at NSCD truly created the foundation on which I now stand – and occasionally still dance.”
Gail Parmel is the co-founder of ACE Dance and Music, one of the UK’s most eclectic and resilient dance companies. She grew up in Chapeltown and graduated from NSCD in 1996, then danced with Kokuma Dance Company before co-founding ACE with her husband, musician Ian Parmel. The company remains firmly rooted in its home city of Birmingham, but is globally recognised as a leader in Contemporary African and Caribbean dance. ACE’s reputation has thrived thanks to a wide range of productions, classes, carnival presentations, and outreach programmes. Gail’s choreography career spans two decades, and she has created 10 successful touring productions to date.
Upon receiving the award, Gail Parmel said:
“I am so proud and humbled to be awarded this Honorary Fellowship. To be given the highest award that this school can bestow is something that I could only have dreamed of when I started my training here, back in 1987. Gaining a place at NSCD fundamentally changed the course of my life. I owe so much to the inspirational teachers who have contributed to me being here tonight, who identified and nurtured my talent and gave me the confidence to believe that a career in dance was not only possible, but achievable. As one of the first cohorts of students here, I still feel extremely connected to this school. It will always be a very special place for me.”