Knighthood for Richard Alston

Published: 29 December 2018

Choreographer Richard Alston has been awarded a knighthood for Services to Dance in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.

He said, “I am of course delighted to receive such a tremendous honour, not only for myself but also for dance, the art form to which I have devoted the greater part of my life and which I love so much.”

Clare Connor, Chief Executive of The Place, said, “Richard occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of dance and music lovers the world over. His sense of artistry combined with his deep commitment to young people and their learning through dance is rare. This is a wonderful and fitting celebration of decades of dedication to dance.”

Born in Sussex in 1948, Alston was educated at Eton, where he discovered his passion for music in the school gramophone library, before studying fine art and theatre design at Croydon College of Art in 1965. He was one of the first students at the London Contemporary Dance School in 1968, where he first started to choreograph under the teaching of Robert Cohan and leadership of Robin Howard at The Place.

He went on to choreograph for The Place's resident company London Contemporary Dance Theatre before forming the UK’s first independent dance company, Strider, in 1972. In 1975, he left for New York to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio and on his return two years later he worked throughout the UK and Europe as an independent choreographer and teacher. Alston was Artistic Director of Ballet Rambert from 1986 to 1992 before taking up the post of Artistic Director of The Place and launching his Richard Alston Dance Company in November 1994.

He was made an Honorary Doctor of the Arts by both University of Kent (2015) and Kingston University (2016) and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (2017). He was made Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France (1995) and received the CBE in 2001.

In 2018, Alston celebrated his 70th birthday as well as his company’s 25th anniversary.

Vera Liber