New Year's dance honours

Published: 31 December 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Andrew Hurst

The dance sector has been recognised in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

The recipients are:


  • Dr Stuart Gary Hopps - Choreographer. For services to dance
  • Robert Lockyer-Nibbs (Bob Lockyer) - For services to dance and broadcasting


  • David Hamilton - Founder, Phoenix Dance Theatre. For services to dance
  • Andrew Hurst - Chief Executive, One Dance UK. For services to dance
  • Greta Mendez - For services to dance
  • Dr Harold George Patten ('H' Patten) - For services to African and Caribbean Dance
  • Chita Sundaram - For services to South Asian Dance
  • Sharon Watson - Lately Artistic Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Chief Executive and Principal, Northern School of Contemporary Dance. For services to dance
  • Pietra Mello-Pittman and Ella Spira, founders of the dance/theatre production company Sisters Grimm.

BEM (British Empire Medal)

  • Anand Bhatt - Co-Founder, Aakash Odedra Company. For services to dance and to the community in Leicester
  • Aakash Odedra - Co-Founder, Aakash Odedra Company. For services to dance and to the community in Leicester

Speaking of his MBE, Andrew Hurst said, "I am humbled and honoured to be recognised alongside so many exceptional individuals in our sector, and consider this a tribute to the amazing work of the entire team at One Dance UK, our achievements over the past four and half years, and especially at the end of a year when the sector we serve most needed representing at the highest level and the strengthening our collective voice. But there is still a lot more work to be done, and rest assured that I, and we, will always work tirelessly, energised by this recognition, to champion the power of dance in all its diverse forms, its unique ability to build empathy and bring us together, and the role it has and will contine to play in the nation's social and economic recovery."

Ella Spira said, “being honoured with an MBE is a wonderful recognition of the role we play bringing talent together internationally. We feel such a passion and a drive for representing other cultures, and then seeing our shows reach audiences all over the world.

"As female founders from mixed heritage backgrounds, this honour feels like a celebration of the challenges we have overcome to not only create a business model around the arts, but to be recognised as internationalists. The impact that the arts can have on society should never be undervalued—they allow people to make sense of their emotions in a space they often don’t give themselves. In these dark and difficult times for live entertainment, we mustn’t lose sight of how the arts have the ability to join people together.”

Pietra Mello-Pittman said, “it is an honour to be recognised not only in contributing to the creative industry but also for services to international trade. Our investors saw our passion and drive and took a leap of faith to support us, and we are thrilled to share this with them. We are driven by telling stories that unite people in ways that have not been done before, and there have been challenges in doing something that is perceived as unconventional. Neither Ella or I went to university and we worked hard to achieve what we have. We hope that this Honour will inspire others to follow their dreams and to persevere. Whatever your background or heritage, you can achieve things that may seem out of reach and overcome your struggles to make a big impact.”