English National Ballet – 2020-21 Announcement
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English National Ballet’s Christmas gift – Nutcracker Delights to be released online
As a gift to its audiences this Christmas, English National Ballet will make a recorded performance of Nutcracker Delights available to watch for free on YouTube and Facebook, from 2pm Thursday 24 December, for 30 days.
As London moved into Tier 4 COVID-19 restrictions and the subsequent cancellation of all scheduled performances of Nutcracker Delights, the Company decided to film and share a recording of this specially-adapted production with its audience as a thank you at the close of its 70th Anniversary year. Nutcracker Delights was filmed on 18 and 19 December at the London Coliseum by Michael Nunn and William Trevitt.
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE said: ‘Everyone involved in Nutcracker Delights worked incredibly hard to prepare for what would have been our first live performances since January. We were devastated to have to cancel our scheduled shows at the London Coliseum just a few days before opening.
English National Ballet has performed a version of The Nutcracker every year of our 70-year history, and we were determined this Christmas should be no different. This year has demonstrated the capacity of the arts sector to respond to challenges with creativity and resolve. And so I’m pleased that we have quickly found a way, despite the circumstances, to bring Nutcracker Delights to life this Christmas, continuing our 70-year tradition, and allowing us to share some much-needed festive magic with our audiences.
We especially wanted to thank our faithful audience that year after year have come to see us dance by gifting this performance from some of our incredible ENB dancers, who we know they would have missed seeing this year.’
Nutcracker Delights is a specially adapted version of the Christmas classic which sees the Company perform a showcase of the ballet’s most popular moments, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s famous score played live by musicians from English National Ballet Philharmonic. The recording captures the debut performance of new ENB Principal, Natascha Mair. Mair dances the role of Clara alongside Lead Principal Erina Takahashi as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Lead Principal Joseph Caley as the Prince and First Soloist Aitor Arrieta as Nutcracker.
SOME PREVIOUS NEWS
Monday 21 December sees the world premiere of Jolly Folly, the final instalment in English National Ballet’s digital season, a series of five original dance films. It will be available to rent via Ballet on Demand, part of the Company’s new video platform, ENB at Home.
Choreographer Arielle Smith has worked with filmmaker Amy Becker-Burnett to create this old Hollywood movie musical inspired dance film. Full of charm and nostalgia, and driven by the Klazz Brothers’ Latin-infused covers of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mozart, Jolly Folly is fast-paced, surprising and full of uncontainable energy.
The other films that have been released as part of English National Ballet’s digital season, listed alongside the choreographer and filmmaker for each, are:
Take Five Blues (Stina Quagebeur and Shaun James Grant)
Senseless Kindness (Yuri Possokhov and Thomas James)
Laid in Earth (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Thomas James)
Echoes (Russell Maliphant and Michael Nunn & William Trevitt)
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE, said: “This is the first time English National Ballet has embarked on a digital project of this scale and it has been amazing to see everyone pull together with such dedication and resolve, to embrace a new process of creation and collaboration. The result is five very diverse and beautiful films that are testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the arts, even in such challenging times.”
Over 100 artists and technicians from the dance and film sectors joined ENB’s own digital, technical and wardrobe teams for the project. The short films are available to rent with an accompanying mini-documentary that gives an insight into the creative energy of each new work. All five films in English National Ballet’s Digital Season were filmed in the theatre-sized space of the Holloway Production Studio, under COVID-19 guidance.
View the trailer for Jolly Folly here.
Ahead of these performances, new dancers are welcomed into the Company.
Natascha Mair joins as a Principal. Mair previously performed with Vienna State Opera Ballet (Wiener Staatsballett) where she rose through the ranks to Principal. She has danced with many companies around the world as a Guest Artist, including Slovenian National Ballet where she is a Guest Principal Dancer.
Natascha has received numerous awards including First Prize at Premio Roma Danza (2012), Special Prize at the International Contest of Ballet Schools in Bejing (2012) and the Sponsorship Award of the Ballett Club Wiener Staatsoper & Volksoper (2014).
On joining the Company, Natascha Mair said: ‘I am excited for my new journey with English National Ballet and moving to this incredible city which has so many different people and cultures for me to learn from. I never want to stop growing as a person and artist and I feel like English National Ballet is the perfect place for me to do so.’
Matei Hadrian Holeleu joins as a 1st Year Artist of the Company following his success at the 2020 Prix de Lausanne competition. Holeleu trained at Ballettschule Theater Basel, Switzerland and Octavian Stroia Highschool of Choreography and Drama, Romania.
Eric Snyder joins as an Artist (Extra) from English National Ballet School. He has previously performed with English National Ballet in their 70th Anniversary Gala, Nutcracker, Cinderella and My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty.
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE said: ‘I’m so pleased to be able to welcome Natascha, Matei and Eric to the Company as we prepare to return to live performances soon, and I can’t wait to see them develop their artistry with ENB.’
English National Ballet today announces that Lead Principal Alina Cojocaru will be leaving the company as her contract with us comes to an end.
Cojocaru joined English National Ballet in 2013 as a Lead Principal Dancer. During her time with the Company Cojocaru has delighted audiences and critics alike, throughout the UK and internationally, with her performances in both classical and contemporary repertoire.
Acclaimed for both her technical ability and her dramatic interpretation, Cojocaru has received much admiration for her performances with the Company in classical roles including Juliet in both Rudolf Nureyev’s and Derek Deane’s versions of Romeo & Juliet; the title roles in Giselle, Manon and Cinderel
Cojocaru has also garnered high praise for her artistry and on-stage presence in performances in contemporary works whilst with the Company: Approximate Sonata 2016, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, Spring and Fall, No Man’s Land, Second Breath and Akram Khan’s Giselle in which she performed the title role in the 2016 world premiere.
Whilst dancing with English National Ballet, Cojocaru has twice been awarded the Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical), in 2017 for her portrayal of the title role in Akram Khan’s Giselle and in 2018 for her performance as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, and Danza & Danza Dancer of the Year 2019.
Whilst Cojocaru’s last on-stage performance with the Company was in January 2020 as Clara in Nutcracker at the London Coliseum, her performances continued to enchant audiences around the world through English National Ballet’s recent series of Wednesday Watch Parties in which she appeared in Manon, Cinderella and Nureyev’s Romeo & Juliet.
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE said: ‘It has been an absolute privilege to have an artist of Alina’s calibre as part of the English National Ballet family. I am so thankful for her immense contribution to the company over the past 7 years, and I hope to welcome her back as a guest in the future.’
English National Ballet announces the world premiere dates for its digital season, a series of five original dance films that will be made available to rent via Ballet on Demand, part of the company’s new video platform, ENB at Home.
Opening the digital season on 23 November is Take Five Blues choreographed by English National Ballet’s own Associate Artist, Stina Quagebeur. Inspired by Nigel Kennedy’s take on Bach’s Vivace and Paul Desmond’s jazz standard, Take Five, Quagebeur’s piece sees eight dancers play with unexpected rhythms and melodies, feeding off each other’s energy in a high spirited film, created in collaboration with filmmaker Shaun James Grant, that pushes past classical ballet’s boundaries into new dream-like territories.
On 30 November the second film in the series will be released, Senseless Kindness, by world-renowned choreographer Yuri Possokhov, who works with a UK company for the first time. 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 No1 recorded by musicians from English National Ballet Philharmonic. Filmmaker Thomas James collaborates to create this poetic, elegant film, using bold lighting and a stark, textured black and white approach.
The earth and the underworld intertwine and overlap in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s ‘torn apart’ quartet, Laid in Earth, which will be released on 7 December. Interpreted for screen in director Thomas James’ ethereal film, a surreal blending of fluid choreography and an eerie other-worldly aesthetic. Laid in Earth is set to Purcell’s famous aria from Dido and Aeneas – arranged by Gavin Sutherland, recorded by musicians from English National Ballet Philharmonic and sung by mezzo soprano Flora McIntosh, as well as new electronic music by composer and multi-instrumentalist Olga Wojciechowska, a long-time collaborator of Cherkaoui’s.
Russell Maliphant creates ever-shifting choreography and uses light as an integral partner in the creative process, as seen in Echoes, which will be released 14 December. Collaborating with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras, with commissioned sound design by Dana Fouras, costumes by Stevie Stewart, and brought to the screen by award-winning filmmakers Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, the result is mesmerising.
The final film in the digital season is Jolly Folly, which will be released on 21 December. Choreographer Arielle Smith has worked with filmmaker Amy Becker-Burnett to create this old Hollywood movie musical inspired dance film. Full of charm and nostalgia, and driven by the Klazz Brothers’ Latin-infused covers of Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Mozart, Jolly Folly is fast-paced, surprising and full of uncontainable energy.
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE, said: ‘This is the first time English National Ballet has embarked on a digital project of this scale and it has been amazing to see everyone pull together with such dedication and resolve, to embrace a new process of creation and collaboration. The result is five very diverse and beautiful films that are testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the arts, even in such challenging times.’
Each short film is available to rent for 72hrs with an accompanying mini-documentary that gives an insight into the creative energy of each new work. All five films in English National Ballet’s Digital Season were filmed in the theatre-sized space of the Holloway Production Studio, under COVID-19 guidance.
ENB at Home – English National Ballet launches on-demand video platform featuring Ballet on Demand and BalletActive
English National Ballet’s dedicated on-demand video platform, ENB at Home, has launched, giving audiences further access to a wide range of exciting ballet content from the stage and beyond, from the comfort of their homes. ENB at Home offers two services, Ballet on Demand which features world class ballet productions available to rent for 72hr periods; and BalletActive, which offers a variety of ballet-based classes, available by subscription.
In November and December, Ballet on Demand will play host to the world premieres of five pieces created for English National Ballet’s new digital season. Filmmaker Amy Becker-Burnett has worked with choreographer Arielle Smith to create the energetic, old movie musical inspired, Jolly Folly; Shaun James Grant has collaborated with Stina Quagebeur on Take Five Blues, a response to Bach’s Vivace and Paul Desmond’s jazz standard, Take Five; Michael Nunn and William Trevitt have teamed up with Russell Maliphant on a mesmerising piece which uses light as an integral partner; and Thomas James has worked on the creation of two films, Laid in Earth which sees a ‘torn apart’ quartet from choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Senseless Kindness choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and based on Vasily Grossman’s great novel, Life and Fate.
English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE, said: ‘Amongst the challenges of 2020, we have been able to find opportunity for creation and collaboration. It’s been fascinating to see these filmmakers and choreographers work together, sharing their talent and blending their artistry, in the creation of five very diverse and beautiful films.‘
Available now on Ballet on Demand are Akram Khan’s award-winning Giselle and the epic pirate adventure Le Corsaire, both of which were recorded specifically for screen, as well as selections from the Company’s archives including Akram Khan’s poignant reflection on the First World War, Dust and one of the jewels of Romantic ballet, La Sylphide. Additional titles will be announced soon.
Building on the popular series of classes which ENB made available online during lockdown BalletActive continues to give people the opportunity to actively engage with ballet-based exercise from home with a monthly or annual subscription-based class programme. A wide variety of classes appealing to a range of levels will feature, including technique masterclasses from members of ENB’s own Artistic team, Renato Paroni de Castro and Mayumi Ganley; professional level classes from Artistic Director Tamara Rojo; yoga sessions to complement ballet practice; exercises designed especially for small spaces, contemporary dance for beginners and much more. The first series of classes will be released today with further classes added over the coming months.
With the Government’s announcement that England is to enter a second lockdown, English National Ballet’s return to the stage has been postponed. The five pieces that feature in the digital season had been adapted for live on-stage performances for socially distanced audiences at Sadler’s Wells, London, later this month. Sadly, these shows, Reunion: An Evening with English National Ballet, are not able to go ahead.
English National Ballet’s previously scheduled performances for Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 had 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.
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 Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Yuri 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 guidelines. This 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.’