Charles hails choreographer Robert Cohan ‘great example’ for still working at 94


Choreographer Robert Cohan was described as a “great example” to everyone for continuing to work at the age of 94, as he was knighted by the Prince of Wales.

Sir Robert, who is the founding artistic director of London-based dance and performance centre The Place, received the honour in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Born in New York in 1925, Sir Robert is said to have pioneered the teaching of contemporary dance in Britain and was knighted for services to choreography and dance.

Despite now being in a wheelchair, he continues to teach choreography in the capital.

He said of the investiture: “It was a very interesting experience. I have never met Prince Charles before, although I have met the Queen and his sister.

“He asked about what I did, and I told him I danced, and he said ‘Are you all right now?’, and I told him I danced too much and that’s why I’m in a wheelchair.

“When I told him what I do now, he said ‘You are a great example to all of us’.”

Sir Robert, who was made an honorary CBE in 1988 in recognition of his contribution to dance in the UK, said he has earned the title of “the grandfather of contemporary dance”, having taught thousands of people over the years.

He now runs the Cohan Collective, which is an open residency programme in London for the creation of new choreography and music composition.

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Investitures at Buckingham Palace

Meanwhile, composer Jonathan Dove, who has arranged operas for the England Touring Opera and the Birmingham Opera Company, received a CBE for his services to music.

The 60-year-old, of Bethnal Green in east London, said: “It went very nicely and he (the Prince of Wales) was aware I had written a lot of operas, although he was surprised when I told him it was 30.

“He was interested in where the stories came from, and how my best known opera, Flight, had been inspired by the refugee in Charles de Gaulle Airport (in France).”

Flight, Dove’s breakthrough opera, which premiered in 1998, was well received by critics and tells the story of passengers stuck in an airport departure lounge.