Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp CBE was born in London to English and Nigerian parents. He spent his formative years in Glasgow and then Cambridge, before moving to London aged 18 to study at London Contemporary Dance School. His 25-year performing career included London Contemporary Dance Theatre (1981-1994) and Arc Dance Company (1994-2005). He has worked extensively as a choreographer, teacher and director, including at The Royal Ballet School and National Youth Dance Company. He was Dancer in Residence at Queens’ College Cambridge from 1998-2006 and was Visiting Professor at the University of Lincoln (2009-2012). He was co-director of Artyfartyarts, a multi-disciplinary arts group and has choreographed over 45 dances. He served on the Board of the Royal Opera House from 2002–2010. He is a Patron of Akademi and sits on the Cultural Learning Alliance Steering Group. He was a finalist in the inaugural Black British Business Awards (2014), is named in six successive Powerlists of Britain’s most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage, and appears in Who's Who. Kenneth taught for the twelfth successive year on the Royal Ballet Summer School at White Lodge (Lower School), Richmond in 2015. Kenneth was the BBC Young Dancer 2015 Category Finalist Judge across all categories in the inaugural year of the competition. He was Chief Executive of The Place from September 2007 to November 2016. In May 2018 he was appointed director of the Africa Centre, London. Kenneth was appointed an OBE in 2003, then a CBE in 2017, in recognition of his services to dance.