Tamara Rojo’s new Raymonda and English National Ballet leadership news

English National Ballet in 2022

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Further update 22.1.2022

English National Ballet announced three promotions within the Company:

Shiori Kase has been promoted to Lead Principal
Aitor Arrieta and Emma Hawes have been promoted to Principal

Joining the dancers at the end of their respective performances in Raymonda at the London Coliseum, English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE, announced the promotions in front of the audience and Company (photos © Ian Gavan).

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Shiori Kase joined English National Ballet in 2009 and was promoted to Principal in 2016. She has performed in numerous lead roles including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Clara/Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker, Medora in Le Corsaire and the title role in Cinderella. She received critical and audience acclaim for her opening night performance in the title role of Raymonda. She received English National Ballet’s Emerging Dancer Award in 2011.

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Since joining English National Ballet in 2016, Aitor Arrieta has been promoted to Principal and been the joint winner of 2017’s Emerging Dancer Award. He has performed in lead roles including John de Bryan in Raymonda, Albrecht in Akram Khan’s Giselle, Nephew/Prince in Nutcracker, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Des Grieux in Manon and Prince Guillaume in Cinderella.

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Emma Hawes has been promoted to Principal. She joined English National Ballet in 2018 and has danced lead roles including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Gulnare in Le Corsaire, Clara/Sugar Plum Fairy in Nutcracker and the title roles in ManonCinderella and, most recently, Raymonda.

(11.1.2022) English National Ballet Leadership Announcement

The Company has announced that Artistic Director and Lead Principal Dancer, Tamara Rojo CBE, will step down towards the end of 2022 to take up the role of Artistic Director at San Francisco Ballet.

Since Tamara’s appointment to the role in 2012, she has gained acclaim for artistic excellence and creativity by introducing ground-breaking works into the Company’s repertoire, whilst continuing to celebrate the tradition of great classical ballet and attracting world-class talent. She has evolved the artform with bold commissions from both established and emerging creatives, including more than 40 works choreographed by women across English National Ballet’s programming.

Tamara led the Company into a new chapter in 2019, by moving it into the RIBA award-winning Mulryan Centre for Dance, a purpose-built, state-of-the-art new home in east London. Here, Tamara’s ambition to connect with more people and demystify the artform came to the fore, with a renewed commitment to public access, community engagement and digital innovation. Her investment in the future of ballet continued, with the introduction of forward-focused programmes including internal dancer development initiative, Dance Leaders of the Future, and Ballet Futures, a children’s training programme which aims to diversify the talent pipeline.

Throughout the immense challenges of the last two years, Tamara has been a dedicated advocate, not just for English National Ballet but for the wider creative industries, making the case for the importance of the arts and demonstrating the strength, resilience, and collective determination within the industry to persevere and innovate.

Later this month, Tamara will make her choreographic and directorial debut with Raymonda, her first full-length ballet which English National Ballet will perform at the London Coliseum.

ENB will appoint an Artistic Advisory Panel to support the board in the search for a new Artistic Director. Tamara will remain in her post until late in the year to ensure a smooth transition.

Tamara Rojo said: ‘It has been an honour to have led this extraordinary company for the last 10 years. I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved together, from the tremendous talent working within and alongside the Company, to creating and moving into the amazing new building we now call our home, to the off-stage communities we have established with our education and engagement work.

English National Ballet’s fundamental aim to bring world-class ballet to the widest possible audience has always resonated with me. It is the reason the Company has been a part of my life for so many years, from performing here as a dancer early in my career, to returning as Artistic Director in 2012. My admiration and support do not end here, I will remain invested in English National Ballet’s continued success in the years to come.

It has been a privilege to be the custodian of English National Ballet and as I prepare to hand over the reins, I am confident that this world-class company which is at the forefront of ballet’s growth and evolution with a much-deserved place on the international stage, will continue to flourish and thrive.’

English National Ballet’s Chair, Sir Roger Carr, said: Tamara is a remarkable person whose vision, intellect and energy has propelled English National Ballet to new heights. The Company has outstanding dancers, a fine building with state-of-the-art facilities and a repertoire strengthened by significant new works. Collectively, these assets will provide a strong foundation on which the new Artistic Director can build the next exciting chapter in the life of this remarkable Company.

After ten years at the helm, the legacy that Tamara leaves will be long lasting and it is hoped that in her new position in San Francisco she will have the opportunity to capitalise on past achievements and build a bridge between these two great ballet companies for joint endeavours to our mutual benefit. I speak on behalf of us all at the English National Ballet when I offer my sincere thanks and wish Tamara every success in the future.’

UPDATE! English National Ballet is committed to delivering artistic excellence and to giving audiences the best experience possible. Sadly, the recent impact of Covid-19 means that rehearsals for our upcoming production of Raymonda have been significantly disrupted. This, combined with the complexities of bringing a new, full-length ballet to the stage, mean that in order to meet these commitments, the opening of Raymonda will be delayed.

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, English National Ballet: ‘This has been an extremely difficult decision to make, but one which was necessary. We would be doing a disservice to ourselves and to our audiences if we presented this extraordinary work without it being fully prepared.

Raymonda is my first ballet as a choreographer, so very dear to my heart, and is the result of five years of research and collaboration with an exceptional creative team. I cannot wait to share it with you, even if it’s slightly later than we originally planned.’

Raymonda will now premiere at the London Coliseum on Tuesday 18 January and run for seven performances until Sunday 23 January. Further details are available on the Raymonda production page.

Ticket holders for cancelled performances will be contacted directly to arrange refunds or credits. Performances on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 January will be available to book from noon on Friday 7 January.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your continued support.

PREVIOUS NEWS (edited): English National Ballet today announces its plans 

Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, will create a new version of the classic 19th century ballet, Raymonda, after Marius Petipa. Marking her first foray into choreography and direction, Rojo adapts the three-act production for today’s audiences, revisiting this important but rarely performed work of the ballet canon which is not, in its entirety, in any other UK dance companies’ repertoire.

Bringing the story into the setting of the Crimean war and drawing inspiration from the groundbreaking spirit and work of the women supporting the war effort, including Florence Nightingale in this her bicentennial year, Raymonda is recast as a young woman with a calling to become a nurse. With a new narrative and developed characterisation bringing women’s voices to the fore, Rojo’s Raymonda introduces a heroine in command of her own destiny.

Tamara Rojo CBE said: ‘It continues to be a part of my vision for English National Ballet to look at classics with fresh eyes, to make them relevant, find new contexts, amplify new voices and ultimately evolve the art form.  

‘Raymonda is a beautiful ballet – extraordinary music, exquisite and intricate choreography – with a female lead who I felt deserved more of a voice, more agency in her own story. Working with my incredible creative team, I am setting Raymonda in a new context and adapting the narrative in order to bring something unique, relevant and inspiring to our audiences. 

‘I have truly enjoyed delving into the creative process of adapting and choreographing a large-scale ballet and have been inspired by Florence Nightingale’s drive and passion.”

Rojo brings together a stellar production team for Raymonda with costume and set design by Antony McDonald, lighting design by Mark Henderson, dramaturgy by Lucinda Coxon, character dances by Vadim Sirotin, and choreology research and advice on the Sergeyev notation by Doug Fullington. Alexander Glazunov’s original score, with music arrangement by Gavin Sutherland, will be performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic. Raymonda is a Co-Production between English National Ballet and Finnish National Ballet.

Also touring this Season is Creature by Akram Khan. A co-production between English National Ballet and Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, this is Khan’s second full length ballet and follows the success of Giselle, which, since it was first performed in 2016, has been seen live by over 109,000 people through tours to twelve cities, in the UK and internationally.

Completing English National Ballet’s Autumn-Winter Season is Nutcracker which returns to the London Coliseum for the festive period (10 December 2020 – 3 January 2021). These performances mark English National Ballet’s 70th year of performing a Nutcracker production, with the Company having done so since 1950 when it was founded. This version, by Wayne Eagling, has been seen by over 750,000 paid audience members, with 85,000 tickets sold for performances in London and Liverpool during Christmas 2019-20.

In 2018 English National Ballet premiered William Forsythe’s first creation for a UK ballet company in over 20 years, Playlist (Track 1, 2). April 2021 sees the Company’s relationship with the revered American choreographer continue, with a triple bill of works to be performed at Sadler’s Wells, London (NOW 31 March to 10 April 2022), THE FORSYTHE EVENING. The bill comprises of the UK premiere of Blake Works I, which features the music of James Blake’s album, The Colour in Anything; alongside Approximate Sonata 2016, a series of deconstructed pas de deux first performed by English National Ballet in 2018; it will also present for the first time in the UK an extended version of Playlist (Track 1, 2), Playlist (EP). 

Tamara Rojo CBE said: ‘William Forsythe is a genius of our time, a true renaissance man. It was my dream to bring him to work with English National Ballet and I am so grateful he chose to create Playlist (Track 1, 2) with us. In this triple bill, the combination of Forsythe’s unique choreographic style and joyful pop music exemplifies how ballet can be for everyone to enjoy. I’m thrilled that we are now bringing Playlist (EP) and Blake Works I to UK audiences for the first time, alongside the brilliant Approximate Sonata 2016.’

English National Ballet remains committed to developing and nurturing talent within the Company. Emerging Dancer recognises the excellence of the Company’s artists through an annual celebration that sees six finalists mentored by their peers to perform in front of a panel of eminent judges. The winner of Emerging Dancer is announced alongside the People’s Choice award and the Corps de Ballet award, introduced to recognise the hard work and dedication of an exceptional member of the corps.

Elsewhere, English National Ballet celebrates 10 years of its flagship Engagement programme, Dance for Parkinson’s. Inspired by Company repertoire, the programme provides high quality dance classes for people living with Parkinson’s, their family, friends and carers. Since its launch in 2010, English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s has reached over 4700 people and has expanded to include five hubs across the UK. 2020 sees a collaboration with King’s College London and UCL on one of the world’s largest research studies addressing the impact and scalability of arts interventions on physical and mental health.

English National Ballet is a National Portfolio Organisation supported by Arts Council England.

1 thought on “Tamara Rojo’s new <i>Raymonda</i> and English National Ballet leadership news”

  1. Dear Ms. Rojo,

    Your idea of bringing ‘Raymonda’ into the 21st Century by changing the story to Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, is, wrongheaded to say the least. ‘Hungarian’ inspired music in the Crimea? You claim that you are using the Stepanov Notations with the ‘advice’ of one of the leading experts, D. Fullington. So how much of Petipa is left You also claim that you are using the original score – ‘arrangement’ by Gavin Sutherland. Does Glazunov need arranging? Having seen some of the videos – one sees the usual ‘boring dancercise’ steps for Mr. Hernández – which has nothing to do with Petipa. This is even more absurd that the Nureyev and Grigorevich versions.

    Reply

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