On Friday, October 6, Neighbourhood Dance Works’ announced the winner of the 2017 Roberta Thomas Legacy Award (RTLA) at an event at the LSPU Hall presented by DanceNL. St. John’s artist Lori Clarke name was revealed by last year’s winner, Anne Troake.

Past recipients include Dave Gardiner, Colleen Quigley, Candice Pike, Sarah Joy Stoker.

The RTLA is awarded annually to a dance practitioner or an artist in any discipline collaborating with a dance practitioner. Projects are funded up to $1000 and can be for ideation, professional development, aspects of creation or final production. The award is intended for projects that will commence after October of any given year.

Clarke has been a part of the dance, theatre and film community as a sound designer, a composer and a performer for more than 30 years. In a short speech, Clarke announced she will be using the funds to continue her field studies related to her PhD thesis work at Memorial University.

The Roberta Thomas Legacy Award (RTLA) is awarded annually to a dance practitioner or an artist in any discipline collaborating with a dance practitioner. It is named in honour of Roberta Thomas, artist and former Executive Director of Neighbourhood Dance Works. The Award was established by Thomas’ family in 2012 as a way to continue her infectious human spirit by supporting development and presentation in the field of dance and dance collaboration. Many of Thomas’ friends made personal donations to the fund this year.

Clarke holds an MA in Somatic Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies (1995) and is currently a PhD Candidate at Memorial University. She also continues to collaborate with artists – writers, dancers, theatre artists and musicians – offering a unique, interdisciplinary approach to creative process, dramaturgy and production.


Harriett Roberta Thomas was an English émigré to Newfoundland who became a beloved and essential figure in the cultural community of her adopted country. A true believer in the creative arts, she was a friend and second mother to the swarms of young people drawn to her and her sons’ musical home in St. John’s. A champion of youth, she was an inspiring mentor to many emerging artists while fostering an environment of independent thinking and community activism. She had a special passion for dance and was Executive Director of Neighbourhood Dance Works until 2009. She was a talented painter and her passing in December 2011 left unfinished what was already a rich body of visual art works. A mother, a grandmother, a cook, a traveler, a painter, an archivist, an activist for human rights, an indispensable friend: in all those roles, she had a profound effect on those whose lives she touched.

Lori Clarke by Carl Hansen (click for high res)