Royston Maldoom has been the initiator and leader of numerous dance projects all around the globe for the past 30 years. His work was especially honoured by the movie “Rhythm is it”! which received the German Lola Movie Award for best documentary film in 2005 and reached large audiences world-wide.
I can’t remember the first time I met Royston but I think it was in the late 1970’s at the long disbanded EMMA Dance Company headquarters in Loughborough. Our paths have crossed on many occasions since. He played the title role in “Dracula” at Dundee Rep in a production I directed. We worked together in the early days of setting up Dundee Rep Dance Company and he became a friend, a mentor and an inspiration to me.
The influences on one’s lives are many, but some stand above the rest, and watching Royston work with the communities of Fife and Tayside for the first time was one of those transforming and memorable moments. Every community project I have done since owes something to that moment. Insignificant in some ways – turning up to a village hall in Fife and watching a dance class – but the beginnings of a movement, a philosophy, a methodology that I have developed ever since.
He has worked in an amazing range of community environments around the world, alway striving to create a great artistic event and always believing in the abilities and talent of the young people he worked with to achieve this. Some have ended up in major companies all over the world and some feel that their time with Royston gave them hope, self esteem and confidence to follow the lives they wanted to lead.
His perception of community dance is “to dance with anyone, anywhere, at any time” regardless of their experience, age, gender or social or ethnic background. He particularly enjoys working with groups that are intercultural, differently abled, and inter-generational.
When he was twenty years old, studying agriculture, he saw a movie of the Royal Ballet. His passion for dance was awakened and he immediately joined a local Cambridge dance school.
From 1980 to 1983, he was Dance-Artist-in-Residence for Fife/Scotland. During that time he organised numerous workshops, summer schools and dance festivals, founded community dance groups for teenager and adults and began to develop his philosophy of Community Dance.
He directed dance projects in Lithuania in 1991 during the independence movement, in Croatia and Bosnia during the Balkan War, in South Africa during Mandela`s election, as well as other projects in Zimbabwe, Georgia and Oregon/USA and others throughout the United Kingdom and abroad.
His international engagement led him to Ethiopia in 1996 where he organized a dance project with 100 street kids. Following the success of this project, they established the Adugna Dance Company, giving young people the opportunity to be educated in dance, choreography, and teaching. On graduation the students were given accreditation by the University of Middlesex, London and many have gone on to work internationally as choreographers, dancers and teachers.
After many visits through the 70´s, 80´s and 90´s in 2000 Royston Maldoom initiated a project with dancers fo the Ballet of the University of San Marcos, Lima , helping them to set up und deliver community projects with and for socially handicapped children in Peru. He worked also with catholic and protestant children in Northern Ireland, male and female prisoners, children and adults with learning difficulties, young adults and children in exile, as well as in numerous primary and secondary schools and dance academies.
In the 1990s, Royston began to work in Germany. From 1989 to 1997 he was the choreographer and artistic director for the German-British Youth Dance Exchange Program in Berlin. From 1990 to 1997 he was choreographer of the European Youth Dance Festival in Duisburg. During this time he also worked with young adults with physical and learning disabilty from the Caritas Workshop, Moers. He has been guest-choreographer at The Academy for Performing Arts at Frankfurt University. In the last few years he has worked extensively with Philharmonic Orchestras and cultural institutions in Germany.
The dance project “Le Sacre du Printemps” with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle, in which 250 kids participated, gained popular attention through the movie Rhythm is it! This documentary was awarded the Lola Film Prize in 2005.
Next to other international awards, in 2005 Maldoom received the German Honors Prize in Dance (Deutscher Ehren-Tanzpreis) in Essen for his continuous and groundbreaking engagement for dance throughout the years. For his work with Le Sacre du Printemps with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra he, the orchestra, and Sir Simon Rattle received the Special Schiller Award of the City of Mannheim.
In 2006 The Queen presented Royston Maldoom with the Order of The British Empire (O.B.E.) from the British Government for Services To Dance. In 2007 he received the German-British Forum Award for his engagement for the british-german relations in London and the prize of the “Club der Optimisten” in Hamburg.