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“Let your art lead you where it will”

Tue 17 December 2019

Arts Leaders Sarah Alexander and Sharon Watson Inspire Trinity Laban Graduates

Trinity Laban’s class of 2019 graduated in the company of inspirational female arts leaders Sarah Alexander OBE and Sharon Watson last week in the superlative surroundings of the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich.

Speaking at the postgraduate music and dance and the undergraduate music ceremonies, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra Sarah Alexander OBE urged graduates to “be the artists that only you can be…real excellence is only found through the quality of your relationships and through authenticity”.


Trinity Laban’s class of 2019 graduated in the company of inspirational female arts leaders Sarah Alexander OBE and Sharon Watson

Sarah has led the National Youth Orchestra from working with 164 to 10,000+ young people annually, working tirelessly to engage teenagers with live music performance.

The guest speaker for undergraduate dance and musical theatre was Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre Sharon Watson, who said “failures are part of success, part of our growth” and encouraged graduates to remember the lessons of their training: “don’t forget your past, it will inform your future.”

Sharon has led Phoenix Dance Theatre for 10 years, and is considered one of the foremost dance leaders worldwide. Phoenix Dance Theatre is one of the few contemporary dance companies to employ a permanent company, and it’s aim is to shine a light on cultural narratives which are often overlooked or untold.

Two honorary fellowships were also awarded. Dave Dowland, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at Asian University for Women, received the accolade for his outstanding service as Trinity Laban’s Registrar (May 2009 – September 2016) and for leading the successful application to Her Majesty’s Privy Council for the Conservatoire to award its own taught degrees.

On receiving the award, Dr Dowland commented –

“I didn’t expect to receive this award. I had a great experience serving as Registrar at Trinity Laban and I appreciate being a part of the network. Trinity Laban is friendly and open, interested in innovation, international, committed to diversity, and encouraging talent, especially in those who might not have the opportunity, to pursue higher education.”

Jamie Watton, Trinity Laban alum and former CEO/Artistic Director of South East Dance, received a posthumous Honorary Award. The inspirational leader and passionate advocate for dance passed away following a short illness in July 2018.

In his role at South East Dance, Jamie invested in choreographers and dance artists to present surprising and inspiring dance performances and leading projects that make a difference in local communities. He was keen to enable artists to create the best possible work and equally committed to giving people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of dance.

The citation, read by Director of Dance Sara Matthews, included the following tribute –

“Jamie exemplified the tenacity and resilience of a Trinity Laban alumnus and was a fantastic role model and inspiration for all aspiring artists and practitioners in the TL community.”

Each year, Trinity Laban recognises accomplished professionals in the fields of the performing arts and education by awarding them the status of Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban.  Distinguished recipients include Steve Reich, Gary Crosby OBE, Gillian Moore CBE, Jude Kelly CBE, Sir Richard Alston, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, and Lin Hwai-min.

See the full list of our Honorary Fellows.

Images credit JK Photography