Welcome to the 2024 Peggy Hawkins Fundraising Gala

After a four-year hiatus, we are delighted to be back in the beautiful Robin Howard Theatre here at The Place with you all.

Much has changed in the world in the last four years- we have seen a global pandemic followed by a cost of living crisis, both of which have impacted the experience of young students in the capital and beyond. Financial need has grown more pronounced and extensive than ever before, but the team at London Contemporary Dance School are also aware that to allow students to complete demanding dance training, much more care is needed than just financial support. The holistic student support programme here at The Place and LCDS, is exemplary in its extent and mission. Students are supported in such a comprehensive, caring and personalised manner, it makes us wish this sort of support was around when we were in training!

We are lucky to have been able to evolve the Peggy Hawkins Fund over the last years to contribute to the rich ecology of Student Support Services here at LCDS. We know that Peggy would have loved how this fund in her name has grown and continues to grow. She truly loved to teach and support dancers on their journeys and through the evolving Peggy Hawkins Fund, we are reaching ever more students, year on year. Of course, none of this would be possible without the generous and continued support from you, our amazing donors.

We are so pleased to be able to welcome you here tonight, to celebrate the fantastic students and alumni of London Contemporary Dance School, Peggy’s memory and most importantly your contribution which allows us to continue this crucial work.

Enjoy the show!

Anthony Van Laast and Pernille Charrington

Your support is important

Your support is crucial to grow and evolve The Peggy Hawkins Fund to meet the challenges of the dance students of today. It is because of supporters such as yourself that we have been able to remain responsive to student need and ensure students are able to thrive at London Contemporary Dance School and graduate with the tools, passion and resilience they need to build fulfilling, life-long and meaningful careers. Thank you!



Choreography: Samara Langham (BA3)
Performers: Elvi Rose Christiansen Head (BA3), Olivia Foskett (BA3), Lily McDonald (BA3), Roisin Salmon (BA3), Brooke Sorensen (BA3), Jess Yeo (BA3) 
Music: John Glacier, Tirzah and FAUZIA, and Rosie Lowe. 
Original Lighting: Ali Hunter
Lighting: Lucy Hansom

Hungry. Charged. A dragon with pearl eyes. Hard gaze. Soft skin. Crystalline armour. Flying higher and higher... 

Haku is rhythmically driven work created for six. It offers a glimpse into a world of surging energy, vitality and attuned sensitivity.

Introduction by Anthony Van Laast and Pernille Charrington


Choreographer: Rukmini Vijayakumar
Performer: Adhya Shastry (BA1) 
Music:: Adi Tala, Raga: Ragamalika
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom

Jatiswaram is an example of a Bharatanatyam dance sequence in which the performer weaves several patterns on a basic musical composition. This Jatiswaram is set to an 8 beat cycle.

Adhya was the BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2022.

Buddies Understood

Choreographers/Performers: Elvi Rose Christiansen Head (BA3) & Jude Vero (BA3) 
Music: Miss Understood by Little Simz  
Original Lighting: Ali Hunter 
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom

Buddies understood is a duet that was created to be performed for children on a tour around London primary schools. The duet focuses on synchronicity between the song Miss Understood by Little Simz and the movement choreographed by the dancers on stage. Character naturally emerges through the journey of play between the music and the dancers. The duet has influences from Street Styles such as Popping, Locking, Krump, House, Hip Hop and Breaking, mixed with the dancers own personal movement vocabulary. 

5,6 several 8s

Choreographers: Jon Rodd, Sunny Coco Marko Bennett, Omari Carter
Performers: The Lab - Anna Ala-Korpi (BA2), Ana Maria Diana Badila (BA1), Sunny Coco Marko-Bennett (BA3), Bertie Jeffery (BA2), Jon Rodd (BA2), Annalia Sparks (BA2), Orangugu Freddi Wong (BA3
Sound: The Lab
Costume: Annalia Charlie  
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom

We are the Lab! We are a body percussion company dedicated to exploring community and joy through rhythm and movement. This is a brand-new reinterpretation of a piece performed as a Duet between Omari Carter and Jon Rodd. Feel free to clap, stamp and shout along with us at the end! 


Define Feminine

Choreographer/Performer: Lauren Scott (BA2) 
Music: Falaise by Floating Points, It’s Been A Long, Long Time by Kitty Kallen
Costume: Lauren Scott
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom

LCDS- The Place for Student Centred Support

A film created by MK Moves and the students and staff at London Contemporary Dance School. With special thanks to our students Dan, Emily, Genevieve and Jess and our colleagues at The Place.

Talk by Anthony Van Laast 


Choreographer: Anthony Van Laast 
Performers: Lauren Hampton and Matt Jordan  
Music: Pointless by Lewis Capaldi 
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom 

“This piece was originally created for the ITV programme Mama Mia: I have a dream. I adore these two dancers and have expanded the original piece to share with you tonight.” Anthony Van Laast

Special thanks to Nicola Treherne for her support during the rehearsals.   

Talk by Dame Arlene Phillips


Choreographer: Anthony Van Laast 
Performers: Aishani Ghosh, Jreena Green, Megan Griffiths, Jacqui Jameson and Ellie Peacock 
 Music: Both sides now by Joni Mitchell
Lighting Designer: Lucy Hansom   

Decades features five London Contemporary Dance School alumni spanning the five decades of the school. A moving new piece by Anthony Van Laast exclusively created for the Peggy Hawkins Fundraising Gala 2024.   


For London Contemporary Dance School
Chief Executive: Clare Connor
Director of Dance Studies: Dr Lise Uytterhoeven
Director of Postgraduate Courses and Research:
Efrosini Protopapa
Director of Undergraduate Courses and International Development: Baptiste Bourgougnon
Director of Registry and Student Well-being: Anna Helsby

Producer for the Peggy Hawkins Fundraising Gala: Rho Thomas
Director of Communications: Holly Conneely
Communications Manager: Akshara Vasavada

For The Place
Technical Manager
: Marco Cifre
Deputy Technical Manager: Seth Rook Williams
Senior Theatre Technician: Martin Kucera, Garry Scott
Casual Technicians: Luke Marino, Edgar Bermon, Keng Cheng, Ali Hunter, Jennifer Cashman, Laurie Paul, Barnaby Booth, Andres Velasquez, Callum Parker, Tom Younger, Marie Colahan
Assistant Front of House Manager: Ifiyenia Kolla
Front of House and Events Co-ordinator: Johanna Tuominen
Box Office Supervisor: Georgie Brown
Theatre Duty Managers: Amy Johnson, Line Guld Pedersen, Jasmine Andrews
Box Office Assistants: Christina Adonoo, Josh-Susan Enright, Aaron Lamont, Daisy Chan
Visitor Services Manager: Eleanor Farrow
Visitor Services Assistants: Ruby Wenham, ZE King, Carrissa Ting, Scilla Rajalin, Xan Dye, Shay Bu, Aisling, Gabriel Munn, Bronté Adelman, Sophie Morrison, Megan Bader, Eloise Frey, Annalia Sparks, Katherine Sarney, Blodwyn Jenkins, Orla Hardie

About Anthony Van Laast

Anthony Van Laast CBE is a patron of The Place.

Anthony trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, and later joining the resident London Contemporary Dance Theatre company as both performer and choreographer. As a choreographer he has received international acclaim.

Theatre credits include: Tina The Musical – worldwide (Outer Circle Critics Award, Tony Award nomination); Mamma Mia! – worldwide (Dora Mavor Moore Award, Helpman Award nomination); Sister Act – worldwide (Olivier Award nomination); Side Show – Broadway (Hayes Award nomination); Hair – Old Vic (Olivier Award nomination); Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance – worldwide (Green Room Award); Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat – worldwide (Olivier Award nomination, Dramalogue Award); Bombay Dreams – London, Broadway (Tony Award nomination); Candide – Old Vic (Olivier Award for best musical).

Film work includes: Beauty and the Beast; Mamma Mia! Here we Go Again; Mamma Mia!; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1; Never Say Never Again; Excalibur; Hope and Glory.

In 1999 he was awarded the MBE for services to dance and choreography, in 2018 he was awarded the CBE for services to dance and choreography and in 2019 he became an Honorary Doctor of the Arts.

About the Peggy Hawkins Fund

The Peggy Hawkins Fund was created by Anthony Van Laast CBE and Pernille Charrington, in memory of Peggy Hawkins, whose life was dedicated to teaching dance and choreography. Peggy was Anthony’s mother, and Pernille’s devoted friend and colleague.

An ex-Ballet Rambert dancer, Peggy Hawkins was a follower of Emile Jaques-Dalcroze’s Eurhythmics method, which combines learning and experiencing music through improvised movement. Peggy lived and worked in many locations all over the world and taught dance and choreography.

She received the Dalcroze Specialist Certificate in Eurhythmics once back in London, and continued to teach and choreograph well into her eighties in her own school, founded with Pernille Charrington. An accomplished pianist, Peggy also played for classes at London Contemporary Dance School in her spare time.

The Peggy Hawkins Fund (PHF) is a vital programme within our Student Fund. Founded in 2012 as the Peggy Hawkins Scholarship, the fund was first established to support talented students at London Contemporary Dance School with financial aid and mentoring and career support from Anthony and Pernille.

Since then, it has grown into the Peggy Hawkins Fund, a holistic student wellbeing support fund which has evolved to meet the challenges of the dance students of today. Donations received for the PHF are distributed in two ways. Firstly, via the LCDS Hardship Fund for individual students, developed to support and relieve financial pressures students face while studying at LCDS. Secondly, via the Student Support Service, available to all LCDS students, including our physical, learning, mental health and wellbeing support. By supporting both these vital areas, PHF therefore supports any registered student whether undergraduate, postgraduate, home or overseas status. While all students benefit from our Student Support Services, the Hardship Fund can be accessed by application, at any point throughout a student’s studies, including at the point of admission. Hardship Fund awards are assessed on a case-by-case basis and can range between £200-£3000.

Your support is important!

It is because of supporters such as yourself, that we have been able to remain responsive to student need. Over the years, we have raised over £100,000 for our students and we are truly grateful for the boundless generosity of our wonderful supporters who help us to ensure students are able to thrive at London Contemporary Dance School and graduate with the tools, passion and resilience they need to build fulfilling, life-long and meaningful careers. Thank you!

If you would like to make a donation to the Peggy Hawkins Fund, please use the donation form at the bottom of this page or visit our Support Us page.

About LCDS and The Place

Today The Place engages hundreds of artists, students, dancers and audiences, both onsite and online digitally, in pursuit of a world with more dance. Continuing to lead the way in shaping the art form, it remains the thriving hub of innovation and creativity that it was when it first opened its doors in 1969, as London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS) and a home for London Contemporary Dance Theatre (LCDT 1967-1994).

The Place is an institution that thrives due to its remarkable history, values and ability to move with the times. A move that unifies education, training and creative processes making The Place a global-leading institution that it has always aspired to be. Now honouring the extraordinary work of people responsible for carving out its identity and Robin Howard’s inspiring leadership (1966-1988), the current collaborative leadership team with Clare Connor as Chief Executive, establishes the theatre, the School and professional artists programmes as one integrated unit.

Extending the generosity of Founding Principal Robin Howard (1924-1989) and his belief that dance could transform and enrich lives, The Place’s vision includes a world with more dance fuelled by a mission that strives to “power imagination through dance”. Pioneering new ideas, taking risks and creating the best conditions for artists and audiences are core values that inform attitudes to pedagogy, artistic development, audiences and engagement.

The Place’s creative excellence builds on the legacy of its first artistic director Robert Cohan, who directed The Place, LCDT and LCDS between 1967- 1987. Cohan’s passion for performance and dance education together with that of Howard and fellow founders of The Place - Jane Dudley, Janet 'Mop' Eager and Patricia Hutchinson Mackenzie, developed both theatre and school into an accessible and friendly meeting place of contemporary ideas and experiments. In its embracing of a wide range of artists and art-forms, the school began to resemble an artist’s community that reflected the radical politics and art of the 60’s and 70’s. Echoing a shift in thinking about dance in higher education during the 80’s, Cohan and Howard appointed a new Principal, Richard Ralph (1979-1996), with the clear objective that he should enable students to obtain a dance degree. In 1982 he succeeded in negotiating a degree course validated by the University of Kent, and the first graduates emerged in 1985. They and successive LCDS graduates went on to shape contemporary dance’s impact in the UK and beyond.

The 90’s and noughties saw a new chapter for The Place under Richard Alston as artistic director (1994-2018) with the building becoming a home for his company, Richard Alston Dance Company (1994-2020). Pioneered by John Ashford, both school and theatre flourished in a period of modernisation and expansion as new links were forged with international artists, through programmes such as Aerowaves, European Dance Network and Resolution as well as initiatives to support artist development. Ashford during his time at the Place (1986-2009) together with partners Dance Umbrella , played a significant role in bringing international work to the UK.

During Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp’s time as Chief Executive (2009-2017), The Place Prize sponsored by Bloomberg, continued to bring media attention and popularity to contemporary dance and The Place. Set up in 2004 and continuing for ten years, it enabled the commissioning of new work in the UK that was toured in festivals and theatres nationally and internationally. Meanwhile Veronica Lewis as principal of the school between 1998-2018, concentrated on her mission to prepare students for varied and lifelong careers in dance, nurturing independent and individual artists, as well as setting up and co-founding the National Centre for Advanced training .

Howard’s hope for contemporary dance “to remain international and continue to cooperate with the other arts and reflect the world outside” is still alive in the current opportunities for artists and students, both nationally and internationally. In the last few decades, reflecting the politics of our time, The Place has invested in the diversity and plurality of artists seeking to lead societal change through art and dance. Under the artistic leadership of Eddie Nixon, a renewed concentration on artist development, commissioning and artist support enables independent artists, unlock their potential and develop the artform.

A productive and inspiring engagement with people, so vital to The Place’s evolution, is seen in the programming of performances at the Robin Howard theatre. In addition, new international and national touring initiatives and a stimulating programme of live streamed and digital performance (started during covid lockdowns) continue to reach and expand audiences across the UK and abroad. The range of dance classes for school children and young people as well as the National Centre for Advanced Training, fulfils an ongoing pledge to ensure as many children and adults from local communities have the opportunity to explore their creativity through dance. Directed by Dr Lise Uytterhoeven, the school's current focus is on developing pedagogy driven by diversity and inclusion as well as critical thinking and a continuing dialogue around performance. Activities in the theatre, outreach programmes and professional artists’ residencies provide students with opportunities to interact with and work in a professional environment throughout their studies. The Place prioritises the value of creating resilience and entrepreneurship in students, making sure that teaching and best practice enhance their development and preparation for professional outcomes. A newly validated degree programme by University of the Arts London reaffirms the Place’s significance in higher education and its potential to create exceptional alumni who continue to shape the art form and industry on a global scale.