ENB 2021–22 season and company updates

Published: 9 April 2021
Reporter: Vera Liber

ENB dancers in rehearsal for Akram Khan's Creature Credit: Laurent Liotardo
ENB dancers in William Forsythe's Playlist Track 1, 2 Credit: Laurent Liotardo
ENB's Nutcracker Credit: Laurent Liotardo

English National Ballet's new season features world premières of Creature by Akram Khan and Raymonda by Tamara Rojo, new performance dates for The Forsythe Evening, the return of Nutcracker for the festive season and a celebratory Emerging Dancer event.

Raymonda will be performed at the London Coliseum 13–23 January 2022. Marking her debut in choreography and direction, Rojo adapts the three-act production afresh, bringing the story into the setting of the Crimean war and drawing inspiration from the women supporting the war effort, including Florence Nightingale.

Rojo 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. I have truly enjoyed delving into the creative process of adapting and choreographing a large-scale ballet.”

Creature by Akram Khan, inspired by Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck, with shadows of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, will now take place at Sadler’s Wells from 23 September to 2 October 2021, with its postponed international première taking place at Chicago’s Joan W and Irving B Harris Theater in February 2022.

Khan said, “I am exploring our very destructive nature of wanting to control everything… man-made systems, nature, animals, fellow humans, our future, and even our past… we want to control it all. And what I am realising is that you can’t control a living thing, without destroying what’s alive about them.”

Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum for Christmas 2021 (16 December 2021 to 8 January 2022) and performances of The Forsythe Evening—a triple bill that comprises Blake Works I, featuring 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—will now take place at Sadler’s Wells from 31 March to 10 April 2022.

Whilst an absence of live performance has made it impossible to select Emerging Dancer finalists and People’s Choice Award winners this year, Emerging Dancer: A Celebration will feature performances from previous winners live-streamed from the Holloway Production Studio in ENB’s east London home on 2 September 2021.

ENB’s new purpose-built home in on London City Island is to be named Mulryan Centre for Dance, after the family of one of its major supporters, Sean Mulryan, Chairman and Group Chief Executive of developer Ballymore.

The 2021–2022 Season sees Maria Kochetkova joining the company as a Lead Principal. Born in Moscow, Kochetkova trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School before dancing with companies including English National Ballet (2003–2007), The Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Finnish National Opera and Ballet, the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theatres and American Ballet Theatre.

A new early stage ballet training programme for children aged 8–12 years will run in association with five dance schools across England: West London School of Dance in collaboration with the Young Dancers Academy, Dupont Dance Stage School, Beckenham Ballet Academy, The Joanne Bond School of Classical Ballet and The Janet Lomas School of Dancing. ENB’s senior leadership team will work with artistic staff and dancer Sarah Kundi, who will help shape the programme and be a mentor to the children.

The Dance Leaders of the Future programme has been expanded to span two years. Launched in 2019, it offers company dancers the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain experience and a greater understanding of the running of an arts organisation.