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Royal Conservatoire of Scotland announces honorary doctorates for summer 2024

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Artistic director, choreographer, and dancer Akram Khan MBE, actor, theatre director, activist, and RCS drama alumnus Ivan Heng, and musician Vashti Bunyan will receive their honorary doctorates on Thursday 4 July.

They join the likes of Kate Dickie, Sam Heughan, Emma Thompson, Susan Boyle and many more in receiving the academic title from the conservatoire, which was named one of the world’s top ten destinations to study the performing and production arts in March.

Award-winning choreographer and dancer Akram Khan is one of the world’s most celebrated and respected dance artists.


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Acclaimed for his dance language rooted in the ancient Indian dance Kathak, his reputation has been built on the success of imaginative and highly accessible productions including Jungle Book reimagined, Outwitting the Devil, XENOS and Until the Lions.

Khan has previously collaborated with big names in the entertainment industry including Kylie Minogue, Florence and the Machine, actress Juliette Binoche, ballerina Sylvie Guillem, visual artist Anish Kapoor, writer Hanif Kureishi and composers Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, Jocelyn Pook and Ben Frost.

The Herald:

Ivan Heng will be honoured for his boundary-breaking theatre work that is aimed at giving voices to marginalised people in society.

The Singaporean actor and director founded the internationally acclaimed Wild Rice theatre company in 2000. Under his leadership, it has reached out to an audience of more than a million people and is at the vanguard of creating theatre with a distinctive Singaporean voice.

In 2013, Ivan was awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore’s highest cultural honour, and in 2023 he was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government.

The Herald:

Singer and songwriter Vashti Bunyan will also receive an honorary doctorate. She first rose to fame in the 60s when she was 19 years old and signed by the manager of the Rolling Stones, even releasing her first single that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote.

Despite a promising beginning, Vashti didn’t find success with her own songs and soon abandoned music.

However, the 79-year-old discovered that she had a cult following in the early 2000s and went on to release two more albums in 2005 and 2014, and now the Royal Conservatoire will honour Bunyan for her resurgence in the music industry.

The Herald:

Speaking ahead of the trio’s graduation ceremony, Royal Conservatoire Principal Professor Jeffrey Sharkey said he hopes other students will be inspired to drive forward a career in the creative arts.

He said: “Akram Khan, Ivan Heng, and Vashti Bunyan are three visionary artists who are being recognised for their exceptional contributions to the world of music, dance, and theatre and the unique artistic imprints they have made on arts and culture.

“Their honorary doctorates acknowledge their incredible accomplishments and hope to inspire our graduating students, the next generation of artists, to push the boundaries of creativity.”

Khan, Heng, and Bunyan will join around 300 other students who will graduate across music, drama, dance, production, film and education at Scotland’s National Conservatoire.

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