Phoenix Dance Theatre bids farewell to Sharon Watson

1 May 2020

Today we say a bittersweet goodbye to our Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, who leaves us after more than a decade to join Northern School of Contemporary Dance as their new Chief Executive and Principal.

Sharon was one of the first female Principal Dancers invited to join the all-male award winning Phoenix Dance Company, touring with the company from 1989 to 1997 where she choreographed Never Still and Shaded Limits. She returned to the company in May 2009 to take up the role of Artistic Director. Since then she has choreographed and been the artistic vision behind acclaimed work, including Windrush: Movement of the People, The Rite of Spring & Black Waters.  

During her tenure at Phoenix Dance Theatre as Artistic Director, Sharon has received a number of awards and accolades. In 2010, she was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s ‘Women to Watch’, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK. She was awarded The Sue Ryder ‘Yorkshire Women of Achievement in Business Award’ and named ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’ in 2016. She received the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts’ Companionship Award from Sir Paul McCartney and was recognised as one of ‘100 faces of a vibrant economy 2017’ by Grant Thornton.  She was acknowledged at the 2017 Northern Power Women Awards as part of the very first ‘Top 50 Power List’ and in 2018 she won the First English Woman’s Award for Arts and Culture and was presented with an Honorary Fellowship by Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

In July of 2019 Sharon received an Honorary Doctorate from Leeds Beckett University for her contribution to the arts. In the same year, she also won in the Arts and Media category at the Black British Business Awards, and her production of The Rite of Spring won Best Dance Production and Best Dance Performance in a Production at the Black British Theatre Awards.

All of these recognitions and achievements are testament to her exceptional leadership and commitment. She has been a positive force for supporting the creative industries and under her leadership the company has grown significantly. We wish her all the best in her new role at Northern School of Contemporary Dance.