Dance Umbrella, the London- based contemporary dance production and promotion company, has won the prestigious Prudential Award for Dance, worth pounds 25,000, writes Elaine Fogg.

Based in Hammersmith, Dance Umbrella is best known for the London Festival, which brings together as many as 24 international companies each year, across eight venues in the capital. The judges praised the

company for its innovative programme adding that its initiatives outside London were 'as challenging and surprising as those which have served the capital over the past 15 years'.

Dance Umbrella also won the overall prize in 1992.

Catherine Nunes, associate director of Dance Umbrella, said: 'It is unprecedented that previous overall winners should have won in their category for a second time,' adding that most of the credit should go to Val Bourne, Dance Umbrella's artistic director, who has worked for the company since its inception 16 years ago.

Dance Umbrella is widely

regarded as being at the forefront of British contemporary dance, and the festival has attracted famous names as regular visitors. The highly acclaimed New York dance troupe, the Lucinda Childs company, will appear in the capital for the first time at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in this year's London Festival which starts on 17 October and runs for three weeks.

Dance Umbrella was chosen for the Prudential award at the Birmingham Royal Dance Studio from a shortlist of three including the Northern Ballet and the Jonathan Burrows Group, which each received pounds 5,000. It will join the winners of the other five Arts Awards categories

opera, film, visual art, music and theatre - in another shot at the overall title next February.

(Photograph omitted)