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Honour for Brenda Last
Posted by bbo on 10 September, 2012 11:39
The BBO is delighted to announce that Brenda Last, the organization’s Director of Training, received the OBE in June 2012 for Services to Dance in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Brenda Last was one of the most outstanding classical dancers of her generation. As a young dancer, her talent was recognised at an early age when she won the prestigious Adelene Genée Gold Medal presented by the Royal Academy of Dance.
After training at the Royal Ballet School she because a founder member of Western Theatre Ballet (later to become Scottish Ballet) and then Ninette de Valois invited her to join the Royal Ballet Company. She quickly became one of the most versatile and popular principal dancers. Her exceptionally strong technique and vibrant personality made her a firm favourite with audiences in this country and abroad. Brenda worked with all the great choreographers, many of whom created roles especially for her.
After leaving the Royal Ballet, Brenda was appointed Director of Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo. She was in demand internationally to run major ballet companies, but she chose to work in England and accepted the position of Artistic Director at the Hammond School in Chester, a leading vocational training school for dancers.
Brenda’s commitment to artistic and technical excellence made it inevitable that she would continue her career in the field of teaching and artistic direction. What she brings to teaching is a down to earth, non elitist understanding of the art of ballet in the modern world. This made it inevitable that she would have an infinity with students who come from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds. Over the years her teaching career has gained her the respect of the dance profession. She has taught and coached hundreds of students, many of whom have become international stars. Her students remember her affectionately as a tough, but inspirational, teacher. Her passion and commitment insured that every student achieved their very best. Brenda always pushed them that little bit further.
Brenda has been and continues to be in demand as a freelance teacher. A vast number of summer schools, conventions, seminars and courses have all benefited from her knowledge and skill as a teacher. Brenda’s care for the welfare of all her students extends beyond the classroom. Her counselling and advice has guided many students embarking upon vocational dance training. She has often acted as a chaperone or second parent to many foreign students new to London. Her knowledge and contacts within the dance profession have enabled her to guide and mentor students and most importantly, to assist in helping them obtain a job upon graduation.
Brenda Last has impacted on the teaching of young dancers, nurturing them personally and supporting their career development through her exceptional teaching skills, but also through her generous and passionate sharing of her experience and wisdom as one of Britain’s leading 20th century classical dancers.
She is acknowledged as the significant influence on the careers of many current dancers’ careers. The advice and mentoring she gives to so many students, often offering them accommodation in her home is invaluable.
Brenda Last’s extensive voluntary work, she has undertaken throughout her career, to support and champion dance has been exceptional. She devoted an enormous amount of time and effort in an advisory/board capacity for organisations including The Arts Council England and Scottish Ballet. She is currently a Trustee of The Royal Ballet Benevolent Fund and is Artistic Advisor of The Molly Lake Award and The Vice President of The All England Dance Competition.
She was a pioneer in teaching classical ballet to contemporary dancers and she understood the importance of classical ballet in the training of contemporary dancers. She was highly respected for the many years she spent teaching ballet to contemporary dancers at the London School of Contemporary Dance. She is regularly employed by Michael Clarke and Dancers, one of the most radical and challenging classically based dance companies.
Her respect within the dance community is reflected in the variety of companies that have engaged her as a guest teacher: these include Rambert Dance Company, London Festival Ballet, Scottish Ballet, Irish Ballet, London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the Australian and New Zealand Ballet Companies.
She shares her knowledge and artistry widely and generously, and is able to adapt teaching to such a range of dance abilities, from very young children to professional master classes.
Her impact on dance teaching is also seen through her influence on the development of the ballet syllabus, devising and structuring syllabus to ensure progression for students throughout their training. She has also been instrumental in the training of teachers, securing the quality of dance teachers into the next generation.