English National Ballet announce their current plans for 2020-21

English National Ballet
2020-21 Announcement

Recent Emerging Dancer 2020 finalists
(c) Laurent Liotardo (photo), Nik Pate​ (post-production)

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English National Ballet returns to the stage with performances of Nutcracker Delights at the London Coliseum this Christmas and, as previously announced, Reunion: An Evening with English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells in November.

During the festive period, English National Ballet will present Nutcracker Delights at the London Coliseum (3 December 2020 – 3 January 2021). This special version of the Christmas classic sees the Company perform a selection of the ballet’s most popular moments and iconic scenes accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s famous score played live by musicians from English National Ballet Philharmonic.

Tamara Rojo CBE, English National Ballet’s Artistic Director said: ‘English National Ballet has performed a version of The Nutcracker every year since we were founded in 1950 and I’m so pleased that, despite the challenges faced, we have been able to find a way for the tradition to live on, in this, our 70th Anniversary year. It’s more important than ever that we are able to bring audiences some festive joy this Christmas.’

Reunion: An Evening with English National Ballet sees the Company present five world premieres at Sadler’s Wells, London, from 19-21 November 2020. Originally commissioned as creations for camera as part of English National Ballet’s upcoming digital season and now also adapted for the stage, the new works have been choreographed by some of the most exciting dance makers working today: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, Yuri Possokhov, Arielle Smith, and Stina Quagebeur.

Tamara Rojo continued: ‘After what will be nearly 9 months without performing in theatres, I am thrilled that English National Ballet is going to be back on stage with a live audience this winter. It’s been wonderful to see our studios back in action for the creation of these five exciting new works and we can’t wait to share them with our audiences.’

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Laid in Earth is a ‘torn apart’ quartet. It is set to Purcell’s famous aria from Dido and Aeneas – sung live by mezzo soprano Flora McIntosh, as well as new electronic music by Olga Wojciechowska.

Russell Maliphant creates ever shifting choreography and uses light as an integral partner in the creative process. He collaborates on this project with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras and with commissioned sound design by Dana Fouras.

A former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, world-renowned choreographer Yuri Possokhov works with a UK company for the first time. His piece for four dancers, Senseless Kindness, is based on Vasily Grossman’s great novel, Life and Fate, about a Russian family caught in the Second World War and is set to Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No.1.

In Take Five Blues, ENB’s Associate Choreographer, Stina Quagebeur, responds to two of her favourite pieces of music, Bach’s Vivace and Paul Desmond’s jazz standard, Take Five.

Arielle Smith’s Jolly Folly is fast-paced, surprising, and energetic and is driven by the Klazz Brothers’ latin-infused covers of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mozart.

The music for Laid in EarthTake Five Blues and Senseless Kindness is performed live by musicians of English National Ballet Philharmonic.

English National Ballet’s previously scheduled performances for Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nutcracker Delights replaces cancelled performances of Nutcracker at the London Coliseum. The world premieres of Creature by Akram Khan and Raymonda by Tamara Rojo after Marius Petipa have been postponed to 2021. Those who had purchased tickets for these performances are being contacted directly by the relevant box office.

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English National Ballet today announces its revised plans for Autumn 2020, as the Company’s previously scheduled performances have been cancelled due to the continuing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

An exciting new digital season of short works for camera from choreographers including Russell MaliphantSidi Larbi CherkaouiYuri Possokhov, Arielle Smith and ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur will be created, rehearsed, and performed by Company dancers in English National Ballet’s studios within COVID secure guidelinesThis marks the first time Cherkaoui and Smith have created work for ENB’s main Company, and the first time Possokhov has created work for a UK Company.

Shown in a series of mixed bills, these new works will be available to rent via ENB at Home, a new video-on-demand service from English National Ballet. ENB’s digital season is currently in rehearsal and will premiere in November and December 2020.

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet said: ‘It is testament to the talent of our dancers and the spirit and reputation of our Company that we have such incredible choreographers working with us on our digital season. I’m thrilled that not only will we have new pieces by renowned choreographers to share with our audiences, but that even in these challenging times we are also continuing to support young talent too. I can’t wait to see what they create.’

Following the cancellation of performances at Southbank Centre, English National Ballet will now perform and stream its 11th annual Emerging Dancer competition from its own production studio at London City Island. Celebrating the bright future of ballet and the excellence of the Company’s Artists, Emerging Dancer will see this year’s finalists Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prigent, Emily Suzuki and William Yamada perform a classical pas de deux followed by contemporary pieces choreographed by ENB Lead Principal Jeffrey Cirio, ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur and Mthuthuzeli November. We will also see performances by last year’s winners Julia Conway and Rhys Antoni Yeomans who will be dancing a new creation by Arielle Smith. Emerging Dancer is produced by First Soloist James Streeter as part of ENB’s new dancer development programme, Dance Leaders of the Future.

The Emerging Dancer finalists are now back in the studio, being mentored by their peers and preparing to perform in front of a panel of eminent judges including Edward Watson, Kerry Nicholls and Kenneth Tindall, on 22 September. Audiences around the world will be able to pay to watch this live streamed event for a fee of £5 and for the first time, will also be invited to cast their own votes by text and select a People’s Choice winner.

In all, English National Ballet will present nine new commissions this Autumn Season.

The new ENB at Home on demand platform will not only host filmed performances of new works and events, but will also be a home for additional high-quality on-demand ballet content beyond the stage, such as performances including Le Corsaire and Akram Khan’s Giselle, both of which were recorded specifically for screen, and selections from the archives following the success of English National Ballet’s recent Wednesday Watch Parties.

Building on the popular series of classes which ENB made available online during lockdown, the ENB at Home platform will continue to give people the opportunity to actively engage with ballet-based exercise from home with a subscription-based class programme. Opting for either a monthly or annual subscription, users will gain access to over 100 hours of material including ballet classes, yoga, and fitness sessions. The launch date for the ENB at Home digital platform will be announced shortly.

English National Ballet’s planned UK premieres this Autumn of Creature by Akram Khan and the Company’s new version of Raymonda, choreographed by Tamara Rojo after Marius Petipa, have been postponed owing to the closure of venues, and the difficulty in achieving the original timeline for the creation of these two new large-scale ballets under lockdown. Creature will now have its premiere in September 2021 at Sadler’s Wells, whilst Raymonda’s premiere date is to be announced.

Plans for English National Ballet’s Winter Season 2020/2021 will be confirmed in due course. With changes in government guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic now allowing indoor performances with socially distanced audiences, English National Ballet is exploring options with partner venues.

Tamara Rojo commented:Our artform is vital to the millions of people whose lives are enriched by the performing arts. No matter how difficult the situation, I truly believe ballet can bring people together and be a part of the solution to this crisis. Whilst it is with great sadness that we have had to delay some of our planned Season, I’m so pleased that through our new digital season and ENB at Home service we have found a way to continue to create, challenge, and inspire our audiences and, we hope, go some way in boosting the morale of the country.’

Patrick Harrison, Executive Director of English National Ballet continued:Like so many of our colleagues around the country, we have experienced a devastating effect of the coronavirus crisis on our operations, losing over two-thirds of our income. The continued closure of the theatres in which we perform, cancellations of national and international tours and the ongoing uncertainty about when we may be able to return to full performance or vital commercial activity means we have to scale back our organisation to protect it for the longer term. We continue to create where we can and are investing in the areas which will be key to the post-crisis recovery.

We have furloughed over 85% of our colleagues through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and have introduced pay restraint across the organisation, whilst protecting the salaries of lower earners. I want to sincerely thank everyone in the organisation for their ongoing dedication and the sacrifices they are making during this time.

ENB was successful in its application for a grant from the Arts Council of England’s Emergency Fund, which secures our survival through September. Despite this and in the face of continued uncertainty, we must reduce the scale of our activity and organisation in order to see our way through the current crisis.’

English National Ballet also today announces promotions and changes within the Company. Our 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 seasons have been greatly affected by the unexpected advent of the global pandemic. Our repertoire has been reduced, and our costs must be reduced as well. The Company are delighted to acknowledge members of the company with promotions this year, but sadly say goodbye to others who following discussions have chosen to leave English National Ballet to pursue other projects.

Francisco Bosch, 8th Year Artist, after 17 years with the Company
Fernando Bufala, First Soloist, after 7 years with the Company
Barry Drummond, First Artist, after 10 years with the Company
Shevelle Dynott, 8th Year Artist, after 15 years with the Company
James Forbat, First Soloist, after 15 years with the Company
Daniel Kraus, Junior Soloist, after 16 years and 11 months with the Company
Adela Ramirez, First Soloist, after 22 years with the Company
Maria Jose Sales, 8th Year Artist, after 6 years with the Company
Jia Zhang, First Artist, after 11 years with the Company

Earlier this year, ENB also said goodbye to First Soloist Crystal Costa and 8th Year Artist Joshua McSherry-Gray after 12 and 11 years with the company respectively. Jane Haworth, who joined us as a dancer in 1983 and then became Character Artist and Artistic Coordinator, retired in June.  Artist of the Company Maeve Nolan also leaves at the end of the current Season.

Tamara Rojo said:I want to offer heartfelt thanks to these dancers for their contribution and dedication to the Company. Their talent and artistry will be missed by all, colleagues and audiences alike. I wish them all the best for the future.’

Lead Principal Jurgita Dronina, who previously split her time between ENB and National Ballet of Canada, will not return to ENB next Season. Jurgita will continue to dance in Canada. Tamara Rojo notes that “we certainly hope to work with Jurgita again in the future.”

Jurgita Dronina said: ‘During my time with English National Ballet, I have shared some of my best performances, and been able to witness and be part of the historical change and accomplishments the Company has achieved so far. I wish English National Ballet the best possible future in these difficult times, and I am looking forward to hopefully finding a different way to continue my association with the Company when times are more certain.’

ENB also announces the following promotions which have been made within the Company:

Gabriele Francesco Frola has been promoted to Lead Principal.
Daniel McCormick has been promoted to Soloist.
Precious Adams, Julia Conway, Anjuli Hudson and Erik Woolhouse have been promoted to Junior Soloist.
Emily Suzuki has been promoted to 8th Year Artist of the Company.
Matthew Astley, Noam Durand, Rhys Antoni Yeomans, Victor Prigent and Miguel Angel Maidana have been promoted to 6th Year Artist of the Company.
Carolyne Galvao and Rentaro Nakaaki have been promoted to 5th Year Artist of the Company.

Tamara Rojo said: ‘Congratulations to all of our promoted dancers, this recognition is well-deserved and I’m looking forward to seeing them all continue to develop and flourish in the Seasons to come.’

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