Rojo's first ballet in ENB season

Published: 31 January 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, will create a new version of the classic 19th century ballet Raymonda, after Marius Petipa, in a co-production with Finnish National Ballet, marking her first foray into choreography and direction.

Rojo will adapt this rarely performed work of the ballet canon which is not, in its entirety, in any other UK dance company’s repertoire, featuring Alexander Glazunov’s original score with music arrangement by Gavin Sutherland performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic, setting the story in the Crimean war. Drawing inspiration from the work of the women supporting the war effort, including Florence Nightingale, Raymonda is recast as a young woman with a calling to become a nurse.

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.

"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.”

The world première of Raymonda will take place at Manchester’s Palace Theatre (15–17 October) before performances at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (21–24 October), Milton Keynes Theatre (28–31 October) and then at the London Coliseum (7–16 January).

Also touring this Season is Creature by Akram Khan's second full length ballet, a co-production with Opera Ballet Vlaanderen. Following its world première at Sadler’s Wells, London in April 2020, further performances will be given at Sadler's Wells in November (11–14) and at the Bristol Hippodrome(18–21 November) before its international première at Chicago’s Harris Theater in March 2021 during a tour which also sees performances of Akram Khan’s Giselle, presented by Danse Danse, at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place de Arts in Montreal. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen will go on to perform Creature in Autumn 2021.

Completing the autumn and winter season is Nutcracker which returns to the London Coliseum for the festive period (10 December 2020–3 January 2021), marking ENB’s 70th year of performing a Nutcracker production.

In 2018, ENB premièred William Forsythe’s first creation for a UK ballet company in more than 20 years, Playlist (Track 1, 2). The American choreographer returns next year with a triple bill of works at Sadler’s Wells, London (15–24 April 2021), The Forsythe Evening, comprising the UK première of 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 ENB in 2018 together with an extended version of Playlist (Track 1, 2), Playlist (EP).

Emerging Dancer returns in spring 2021, and My First Ballet: Swan Lake will be performed on tour in the UK in spring 2021.