Applications for the Roberta Thomas Legacy Award are now being accepted.

Application Deadline: Friday, September 6, 2019

Roberta Thomas Legacy Award

Neighbourhood Dance Works is honoured to administer the Roberta Thomas Legacy Award. The Award was established by Roberta (Robbie) 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.

The Roberta Thomas Legacy Award (RTLA) is awarded annually to a dance practitioner or an artist in any discipline collaborating with a dance practitioner. Projects are funded up to $1000.00 and can be for ideation, professional development, aspects of creation or final production.

2017 Roberta Thomas Legacy Award Winner, Lori Clarke (center) with Anne Troake (left), and Calla Lachance, (right). Photo: Enlightened Photography

2017 Roberta Thomas Legacy Award Winner, Lori Clarke (center) with Anne Troake (left), and Calla Lachance, (right). Photo: Enlightened Photography

2018 Roberta Thomas Legacy Award Recipient Josh Murphy


Josh Murphy is a dance artist and performer based in Toronto, ON. A native of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, he has 10 years of performance training with Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, including an international tour to Australia. After leaving Newfoundland, Murphy trained at York University for 4 years wherein he spent two seasons as a company member of the York Dance Ensemble. During his time at York, Murphy performed in original works by Susan Lee, Michelle Silagy, Holly Small, Carol Anderson, Julia Sasso, and Michael Greyeyes. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours in Dance June of 2017. Recent performance and choreography credits include Flock Landings throughout the GTA with Kaeja d'Dance, presenting his work Chasm and a new work (un)Done in collaboration with Paige Sayles at New Blue Emerging Dance The Festival 17 and 18 respectively, participation in the NL Dance Project with Neighborhood Dance Works and choreographers Christopher House and Anne Troake, as well as presenting a new solo work Beacon in collaboration with Catherine Wright at The Festival of New Dance 2017. Murphy has an eventual goal of returning to school to pursue graduate studies in dance.


Harriett Roberta Thomas was an English émigré to Newfoundland who became a beloved and essential figure to the cultural life 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. As an administrator she worked tirelessly to shore up many arts organizations, giving guidance to eager spirits that matched her own. She had a compelling desire to further all forms of art and loved collaboration. A champion of youth, she was an inspirational mentor to many emerging artists while fostering an environment of independent thinking and community activism. She was someone who got things done, embracing life and all it offered. She had a special passion for dance and was Executive Director of Neighbourhood Dance Works until 2009. She was emerging herself as a talented painter and her passing in December of 2011 left unfinished what was already a rich body of visual art work. A mother, a grandmother, a cook, a traveller, 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.

PAST Award Recipients 

2018- Josh Murphy

2017- Lori Clarke

2016- Anne Troake

2015- Sarah Joy Stoker, Pink Noise

2014 -Candice Pike, coeurPulse 

2013 - Colleen Quigley, Dancing Documents

2012 - Dave Gardiner, Gros Morne National Park Residency


To donate to the Roberta Thomas Legacy Award please click below. 

Banner photo of Robbie Thomas provided by the Thomas Family