The choreographer and director Matthew Bourne has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List.

“This news has come as a great surprise to me, but I couldn’t be more thrilled and honoured to be recognised in this way,” the brains behind the all-male Swan Lake said.

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“As artistic director of an independent contemporary dance company that started as a group of friends in the late 80s this comes as a very significant recognition of what that company has achieved in the last 28 years.

“I am particularly proud to be, I believe, the first dance knight outside of the National Ballet companies and would like to thank all of my colleagues in New Adventures and Re:Bourne, my friends in the wider dance and theatre communities and the loyal audiences throughout the UK, without whom, I would not still be here.”

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Last year, Bourne told the Daily Mail that he had a confusing time coming to terms with his sexuality as a teenager. “There were a lot of ‘poof’ jibes,” he said, “which was confusing more than anything because I hadn’t yet accepted myself that I was gay. So in class I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. One of the reasons I got into dance was that I didn’t like speaking, I felt very self-conscious.

“There are so many good role models now, which I’m glad about – people like Tom Daley. On TV in my day there were the flamboyant John Inman and Larry Grayson, that’s all,’ he adds with a laugh.

“That doesn’t help anyone. It was so different then. But I guess these things make you the person you are. Sometimes if everything’s too easy you turn out differently.”

Bourne is a two times Tony Award winner along with five Olivier Awards.