News: Tamara Rojo to lead English National Ballet

Friday 13 April 2012 by Carmel Smith

Tamara Rojo. Photo: Johan Persson

Tamara Rojo, Royal Ballet Principal and a guest artist with many companies around the world is to be the new Artistic Director of English National Ballet. She succeeds Wayne Eagling (who leaves the company after seven years in August) and will take up the post in September. Speaking about her new role she said: “I am honoured to have been asked by the board of English National Ballet to be their next Artistic Director. I have very fond memories of my time as a dancer with English National Ballet and nothing could make me prouder than to return to this internationally respected company, with its wonderful dancers and invaluable legacy in bringing dance to the nation. I am particularly excited about working with young British choreographers, building strong relationships with our audiences in the regions, and exploring opportunities across other art forms”

As well as directing, she will also perform with the company. Plans for her first season will be announced later this year. John Talbot, Chairman of English National Ballet said: “English National Ballet is very happy to welcome Tamara as the new Artistic Director. We look forward to the continuing success of the Company which has thrived under Wayne Eagling’s Artistic Direction over the last seven years. Tamara will use her world wide reputation and creative vision to form inspiring collaborations throughout the UK and the world. She is looking forward to developing, mentoring and showcasing young talent within the Company, and building the profiles of those who are already performing at the highest level.“ John Talbot, Chairman of English National Ballet.”

Tamara left her native Spain for the UK in 1996 to dance with Scottish Ballet, moving on to become a Principal with English National Ballet the following year. She was invited to dance as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet in 2000 (replacing an injured Darcey Bussell in Giselle) and joined the company as a Principal later that year.

Now aged 37, she has made no secret of her ambition to become a director. It was almost a role she felt she couldn’t refuse when a few years ago the Spanish government tried to tempt her back home to set up a national company, but they didn’t meet one important demand she made. “I’ve said the only way I would direct a company in Spain is if they set up an arts council. The government have to reassure me that this is a long-term project. If I’m going to sacrifice my dancing career, I have to know that in three years’ time some politician won’t come along and put his cousin in my place.” she told Judith Mackrell in the Guardian ( Nov 2009). However, the seeds were sown. In the same interview she said: “Directing jobs are very few…It’s a very unsafe career decision. But it has become my passion.”

In 2008 she took part in the third Dance East Rural Retreat – this one specifically designed for Future Leaders and Artistic Directors.
“There is no formal training any where in the world for artistic directors and the retreats are much needed but only a step in developing future dance leaders” says Dance East’s Assis Carreiro. “At the Retreat, Tamara demonstrated a huge passion and dedication to dance and a determination to lead and move the art form forward. Following the Retreat, it was without hesitation that we offered her a placement to shadow Karen Kain at the National Ballet of Canada, which proved an invaluable experience for her. She has since gone on to sit on the boards of Dance UK and Arts Council England East, always thirsty to learn how everything works on both sides of the stage. She will no doubt be a formidable leader for English National Ballet and lead the company into a new era with great determination and standards of world class excellence.”

Tamara Rojo was widely believed to be a contender to succeed Dame Monica Mason as Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet when the appointment was made last year – although she neither confirmed or denied applying – saying only that she wanted to continue dancing. At English National Ballet she won’t have to choose. As Caroline Miller, Director of Dance UK said about the appointment: “It’s such great news. She stands out as a leader with an artistic and business vision. She’s proved herself as one of the most dynamic and talented advocates for dance. It is also fantastic news for audiences that she is going to continue dancing.”

“In Tamara Rojo, ENB have found a director who will insist on rigour while building an exciting future. I’m looking forward to the fun” more from Graham Watts.

“She has just been appointed artistic director at the English National Ballet and is hoping to give the company “a different personality that is recognisable” and for “its dancers to be more known … It cannot be second best to here [the Royal],” she says.” Jasmine Gardner interviews Tamara Rojo for the Evening Standard. Read the full article, Evening Standard, 9 May 2012

More on English National Ballet:

“.. I love London; it’s difficult to find a better city. It’s the life, the speed, the creativity, the amount of things on offer: the best theatre in the world, the best concerts, amazing exhibitions. I travel around the world and – New York, I’m sorry – London is much better.’’
Tamara Rojo interview with Time Out, 2009

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