Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne threw his weight behind Britain remaining in the EU as he received his knighthood from the Prince of Wales during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The world-renowned dancer, who revolutionised the dance world with his all-male production of Swan Lake in 1995, said he was “thrilled” at the honour and was proud that his profession had been recognised.
The 56-year-old, whose balletic touch has enlivened everything from the musicals My Fair Lady and Oliver! to Shakespeare’s The Tempest and As You Like It – as well as a routine by comedians Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders – received his award for services to dance.
Sir Matthew is also among almost 280 actors, artists and writers who have put their name to a letter calling for Britain to stay in the EU.
Published in Friday’s Telegraph, it says: “Britain is not just stronger in the EU, it is more imaginative and creative. Our global creative success would be severely weakened by walking away…”
“Leaving the EU would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people in the UK who work in the creative industries, and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the vibrancy of Britain’s cultural sector.”
Speaking after receiving his knighthood, Sir Matthew said: “It is all a bit of guesswork really, what may or may not happen.
“I’m certainly for staying in because I think I’m a natural collaborator as an artist. You feel you gain more from what you can get from other people and working together.”
Others who signed the letter include actress Keira Knightley, director Richard Curtis and sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor.
The only Briton to have won the Tony Award for both best choreographer and best director of a musical – as well as having five Oliviers to his name – Sir Matthew did not discover ballet or modern dance until he was in his early 20s.
But after a career that has stretched for more than 30 years he said he hoped he was not yet out of new ideas.
He said: “People think you are going to go on forever and you are full of ideas and they are never going to stop, and you do worry about that.
“I get a lot of inspiration from new dancers that I work with, the young talent.
“I love working with young talent and that probably inspires more than anything else now – to want them to do well and to want to find things that are going to show them off well in new ways.”
His latest project is a ballet version of the 1948 film The Red Shoes, based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name, opening in November.
Sir Matthew said: “It’s very exciting to do something new. I always think this is going to be the last one I do.
“It won’t be, I’m sure, but I always feel it’s going to be while I’m doing it – I think, ‘I haven’t got any more’.”