Brenda Last OBE wins Critics’ Circle Dance Award
One Dance UK’s Jane Attenborough Industry Award honours an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to move dance forward and enable the art form to thrive. The winner is selected following an open nomination process, ensuring that the recipient is an individual who is truly respected and admired by their colleagues. One such individual is this year’s winner: Brenda Last, OBE.
Brenda studied with Vera Volkova and, aged 16, she won the gold medal in the Royal Academy of Dancing’s prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition. She completed her training at The Royal Ballet School.
In 1957, Brenda was founder member of Western Theatre Ballet when it was formed by Peter Darrell and Elizabeth West. In Darrell’s signature dramatic style, Brenda created roles in several of his ballets, including A Wedding Present (1962).
In 1963, Brenda joined the Touring Company of The Royal Ballet, becoming Principal Dancer in 1965. A nimble, technically strong and exuberant dancer, she created roles in several ballets including Frederick Ashton’s Creatures of Prometheus (1970) and Peter Wright’s Arpège (1975). She remained with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet until 1977, when she was invited to become Artistic Director of Norwegian National Ballet. Three years later, she returned to the UK and joined the teaching staff of London Contemporary Dance School, later becoming Director of The Hammond School.
She has taught throughout the world for both the Royal Academy of Dancing and bbodance and has given classes to many of the world’s major ballet companies and has worked extensively at Japan’s Noriko Kobayashi Ballet. For many years, she was an advisor to Arts Council England and the Olivier Awards. Most recently, Brenda was Director of Training at bbodance and she still teaches regularly for Michael Clark Company.
In December 2012 she received an OBE for Services to Dance. Many of our great dancers owe a huge debt of thanks to Brenda for her outstanding teaching and coaching.