Over the next few months I will be dipping into The Hammond archives and alumni database to feature the story of a past student every week.

This week our student of the week is Paul Lightfoot, who attended The Hammond from 1977 – 1982. Paul is now the Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater.

Paul’s favourite teachers from The Hammond include: Alan Hooper, Antony Forsey and Kerrison Cooke. For Paul, his time at the Hammond coincided with an exciting period as the boys’ department was just starting. He remembers Betty Hassall as an inspiration.

Paul being awarded his first choreography prize at the Hammond by Betty Hassall’s sister. Copyright Paul Lightfoot

Paul’s favourite memories include: ‘Comus at Hoole Bank which was performed outside and was quite an experience!’ Nutcracker at the Gateway, where Paul danced the Chinaman, ‘was another great experience.’

At age 16 Paul moved to Royal Ballet School for three years and was then spotted by Jiří Kylián from Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Paul joined NDT 2 company as dancer, and also began to choreograph. He was then promoted to the NDT 1 company and continued to choreograph in collaboration with his Spanish partner, Sol León.

Paul performing in one of his own ballets “Spilt Milk” – a duet with Sol Leon. Copyright Paul Lightfoot

Paul’s works are now performed by companies all over the world.

Nederlands Dans Theater


Paul became house choreographer, and is now the Artistic Director of Nederlands Dans Theater since September 2011. Lightfoot has been with the company since 1985; first as a dancer, then as a choreographer together with Sol León. They became renowned, and were appointed as house choreographers of Nederlands Dans Theater in 2002. To date, Lightfoot and León have created over 40 works for the company, for which they received many dance awards. These pieces are performed around the world. Lightfoot is, alongside his role as Artistic Director, house choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater.

Paul has created many works with his partner Sol León under the name Lightfoot and León.

Lightfoot and Leon

León & Lightfoot Repertoire

  • The Bard of Avon (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 1989);
  • Spilt Milk (Nederlands Dans Theater Workshop, 1990);
  • Step Lightly (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 1991);
  • Satchinananda (Nederlands Dans Theater Workshop, 1992);
  • Seconds (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1992);
  • Sigue (Nederlands Dans Theater Workshop, 1993);
  • Solitaire (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 1994);
  • Susto (Nederlands Dans Theater 3, 1994);
  • SH-Boom (Nederlands Dans Theater Workshop, 1994);
  • So Sorry (Nederlands Dans Theater 3, 1994);
  • Softly, as I Leave You (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1994);
  • Syllabus (Nederlands Dans Theater Workshop, 1995);
  • Skew-whiff (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 1996);
  • Start to Finish (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1996);
  • Shangri-La (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1997);
  • Stilleven (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1997);
  • Sad Case (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 1998);
  • Singing Apes (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1998);
  • Small Moves (Nederlands Dans Theater 3, 1999);
  • Speak For Yourself (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 1999);
  • Squeaky Wheel (Nederlands Dans Theater 3, 2000);
  • Said and Done (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2001);
  • Safe as Houses (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2001);
  • Subject to Change (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2003);
  • Shutters Shut (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2003);
  • Signing Off (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2003);
  • Source of Inspiration (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2004);
  • drawn onward (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2004);
  • SH-Boom (adapted version, Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2004);
  • Postscript (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2005);
  • Silent Screen (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2005);
  • Shoot the Moon (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2006);
  • Sleight of Hand (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2007);
  • Sooner or Later (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2007);
  • Same Difference (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2007);
  • Passe-Partout (Nederlands Dans Theater 2, 2009);
  • Sehnsucht (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2009);
  • Limbo (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2009);
  • Sehnsucht (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2009);
  • Studio 2 (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2009);
  • Swan Song (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2010).
  • Schmetterling (Nederlands Dans Theater 1, 2010)

Awards and Honours:

  • Incentive Prize for Choreography of the Amsterdam Art Prize for ‘Seconds’;
  • Nomination Laurence Olivier Award for Best Dance Production of the Year for ‘SH-Boom’ (1994);
  • Lucas Hoving Prize 1994 (for Paul Lightfoot);
  • Incentive Prize Choreography 1997 of Stichting Dansersfonds Ő79 (for Paul Lightfoot);
  • VSCD Golden Theatre Dance Prize 2002 (for Paul Lightfoot);
  • Merit Award 2003 of Stichting DansersfondsŐ79 (for Sol Le—n);
  • VSCD Dance Award ÔZwaanŐ for best dance production 2003-2004 for ‘Shutters Shut’ and ‘Subject to Change’;
  • Benois de la Danse 2005 for ‘Signing Off’;
  • Herald Archangel, Edinburgh International Festival 2006;
  • VSCD Dance Award ÔZwaanŐ for best dance production 2005-2006 for ‘Shoot the Moon’.