News: Tamara Rojo's first ENB season launch

Monday 24 September 2012

English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo at the launch of the new season. with Yonah Acosta & Shiori Kase. The Corinthia Hotel, London, 
24 September 2012. Photo: Annabel Moeller

Tamara Rojo held her first press conference today as Artistic Director of English National Ballet to launch the company’s new season. “My ambition is simple”, she said, “to transform English National Ballet into the country’s most creative and most loved ballet company, embracing and commissioning new work while at the same time keeping the classics relevant. I want to create the right balance, so we move forward artistically while continuing to pay respect to the past.”

Her first programme includes two new mixed programmes: the 20th anniversary of Rudolf Nureyev’s death (and 75th anniversary of his birth) is marked with A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev and Ecstasy and Death – three 20th Century masterpieces including the company premier of Jiri Kylián’s Petite Mort .

As well as taking up the role of Artistic Director, Tamara will also be dancing with the company that she first joined in 1992 at the age of 22. “I was never the best dancer in the world – but I was the most bloody-minded…Getting to English National Ballet had been my ambition – and I had achieved it,” she said. Later this year she’ll be dancing the roles of Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.

In her first few weeks she has introduced several new members of her team at English National Ballet. Renowned Cuban ballerina Loipa Araujo joins as Associate Artistic Director. She is “one of the most inspiring coaches I have ever worked with.” says Rojo, “her immense knowledge of classical technique and her wide experience of different repertoires, styles and choreographers, make her the perfect person work alongside me.” Fellow Spaniard José Martin has been working with companies around the world as ballet master -including the national Cuban ballet school, the Mariinsky, Teatre Colon in Buenos Aires, Julio Bocca’s Ballet Sodre Uruguay, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Ballet. He joins ENB as Principal Répétiteur, while Hua Fang Zhang will be Ballet Mistress. Rojo first met her in China and says: “She was working for the National Ballet of China where she made the corps de ballet into one of the most impressive I have ever seen.”

The young British choreographer George Williamson will also be part of the team, in the newly created role of Associate Artist. A graduate of the English National Ballet School, George’s first major commission was Firebird for the company, seen at the London Coliseum earlier this year. One of his first projects will be to create a new chapter in the introduction to ballet series aimed at children aged 3plus. My First Cinderella will premiere at the Peacock Theatre next March.

Rojo is well aware of the challenges of her role in the current economic climate but said “I believe that now, more than ever, we must be even more creative and imaginative. In Britain we care about arts and culture. We know it sustains us, inspires us, challenges us to think about our lives. Artists, writers, actors, designers, musicians, dancers, composers – in this country we can proudly say, we have the best in the world. And let me say this — it is exactly at times like this when, for some people, hope in the future is lost, that the arts help, lift spirits and waken ambition.”

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