News: English National Ballet - Sadler's Wells' first Associate Ballet Company

Tuesday 4 November 2014 by Carmel Smith

English National Ballet in Jiri Kylian's 'Petite mort' James Forbat & Ksenia Ovsyanick. Photo: David Jensen.

English National Ballet is to become Sadler’s Wells first Associate Ballet Company. Starting in March 2015, ENB will present two annual seasons at the London theatre in the spring and autumn of each year.

“I’m delighted to announce this new relationship with English National Ballet. The Company is renowned for its commitment to bringing ballet and contemporary choreography to the widest possible audiences, making it the perfect match for Sadler’s Wells,” said CEO and Artistic Director Alistair Spalding at the theatre’s annual press conference this morning. “The new contemporary work that Tamara has been commissioning, has added an exciting dimension to English National Ballet’s firmly-established reputation and repertoire, the result of a clear vision for ballet in the 21st century. I look forward to working with Tamara Rojo and the whole Company in this exciting new partnership.”

The first season next March will be a triple bill Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography with choreography by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jirí Kylián.

Neumeier’s Spring and Fall will be a UK premier – originally created for the Hamburg Ballet it features two couples and corps de ballet. English National Ballet’s Lead Principal, Alina Cojocaru will perform in the lead role.

Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, is also new to the company’s repertoire. He created this work at the invitation of Rudolf Nureyev when he was Director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Set against a bare stage it is performed to an electronic score by Dutch composer Thom Willems.

Kylián’s Petite Mort featured in one of Tamara Rojo’s first programmes for ENBEcstasy and Death, in 2013.

It will be followed in September 2015 by the return of Lest We Forget, a sell out success at the Barbican Theatre earlier this year. The programme, made to mark the centenary of World War One, included commissions by Liam Scarlett, Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan – who has just been nominated for two National Dance Awards for his choreography and performance in Dust.

“Experiencing the creation of Dust was incredibly inspiring and moving,” said Tamara Rojo. “It allowed me to understand that Akram’s unique vision and remarkable talent was something I wanted my dancers and audience to enjoy once again.”

Khan’s second collaboration with ENB will be a production of Giselle in 2016. “Giselle is a ballet that lives in both the real and the spiritual world; this is why I thought it would be particularly appropriate for Akram, whose work often represents those two worlds,” she said. “It is a story that you find in some way in every culture, the woman deceived who dies of a broken heart, and the spirit of this woman that either forgives or seeks revenge.

“By commissioning Akram to create a new version of Giselle, and to give this iconic ballet his own unique interpretation, I hope we will achieve something new and extraordinary that fulfils an important part of our vision; to commission and present innovative collaborations that honour and enhance both traditional and contemporary ballet.”

English National Ballet will still perform at the London Coliseum, with Christmas seasons planned for the next three years. They will also be touring the UK and increasingly to more international venues Rojo confirmed this morning.

English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells – on sale from Monday 10 November
Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography
Tuesday 10 – Sunday 15 March 2015

My First Ballet: Swan Lake
Thursday 2 – Sunday 12 April 2015
Peacock Theatre

Friday 19 & Saturday 20 June 2015
Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells

Lest We Forget
September 2015
(Tickets on sale from Spring 2015)

“One of the themes that’s coming out is this coming together of two worlds that used to be so separate. I think one of the concerns is that there isn’t a lot of creativity coming from within the world of ballet and I think that’s something we can try to address. But it does need to flow from people who have it in their bones.” Alistair Spalding

“We’re trying to break all those preconceptions that somehow the word ‘ballet’ brings in: of elitism, of being an art form of a certain era, or even a certain race.” Tamara Rojo

Dance’s new double act – read in full in the Evening Standard, 4 November 2014

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