Image: © Photography by ASH

English National Ballet today announces plans for its 2021/2022 Season.

Looking to the future with hope and optimism, our next Season is a celebration of dance and its power to invigorate, inspire, and bring people together. Embracing both exciting new creations and the tradition of great classical ballet, the Company presents world premieres alongside perennial favourites.

Highlights:

  • Two world premieres: Akram Khan’s Creature at Sadler’s Wells in September 2021 and Tamara Rojo’s Raymonda at the London Coliseum in January 2022.
  • Resuming our beloved Christmas tradition: Wayne Eagling’s festive treat Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum in December.
  • An extraordinary triple bill by one of the greatest living choreographers: new performance dates for THE FORSYTHE EVENING, featuring works by William Forsythe, in 2022.
  • A celebration of past Emerging Dancer competition winners will be streamed in September 2021.
  • ENB’s home on London City Island to be named Mulryan Centre for Dance.
  • International ballet star Maria Kochetkova joins as Lead Principal.
  • Investing in the future of ballet by expanding our Dance Leaders of the Future programme, and developing a new ballet pipeline project in association with five dance schools across England.

Read on for all the details.

English National Ballet’s Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo CBE said:

“The past year has shown the determination, resilience and innovativeness of our Company. It has demonstrated the importance of the arts in gathering us together as a society, to share stories and to develop an understanding of, and empathy for, ourselves and others. Whilst the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt for some time, I am pleased that today we are able to look ahead with optimism at better times to come. I cannot wait to share a Season of live performances and to once again hear the sounds of an audience slowly filling the auditorium and feel the energy build as we wait for the curtain to rise.”

CROPPED Tamara-Rojo-Karolina-Kuras
Tamara Rojo © Karolina Kuras.

We excited to announce the new dates for the eagerly awaited world premiere of Raymonda by English National Ballet’s Artistic Director Tamara Rojo CBE, after Marius Petipa. Rojo’s version of the classic 19th century ballet will be performed at the London Coliseum from 13 – 23 January 2022.

Marking her debut in choreography and direction, Rojo adapts the three-act production for today’s audiences, revisiting this important but rarely performed work of the ballet canon which is not, in its entirety, in any other UK dance company’s repertoire.

With a new narrative and developed characterisation bringing women’s voices to the fore, Raymonda is recast as young woman with a calling to become a nurse during the Crimean War.

Tamara 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.

This story is about many themes: duty, war, patriotism, culture, but at its centre are the nurse characters – inspired by Florence Nightingale’s vision, drive and passion. Reflecting on the last year, we have seen how nurses, and many others in the medical sector, sacrifice so much to take care of other people and I hope this, in some small way, pays homage to them.”

Learn more about Raymonda.

Creature
Dancer: Jeffrey Cirio. Photo © Jason Bell. Creative Direction: Charlotte Wilkinson Studio

The much-anticipated world premiere of Creature by Akram Khan will now take place at Sadler’s Wells from 23 September – 02 October 2021, with its postponed international premiere taking place at Chicago’s Joan W. and Irving B. Harris Theater in February 2022. A Co-Production between English National Ballet and Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, this is Khan’s third collaboration with the Company.

Akram Khan said:

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the UK just weeks before Creature was due to premiere in London last April and the final stages of our creation and rehearsal process were brought to an abrupt halt as the country went into lockdown. On returning to the studio, I’ve brought the experiences of the last year with me, drawing on themes of isolation, mental health, and patriarchal systems… and within that, 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.

Tickets for the world premiere of Creature are now on sale.

Nutcracker campaign image. Shiori Kase © Jason Bell
Shiori Kase © Jason Bell - Art Direction and Design Charlotte Wilkinson Studio

The family favourite makes a welcome return to the London Coliseum for Christmas 2021 (16 December 2021 – 08 January 2022).

The Company has performed a version of Nutcracker every year since it was founded in 1950 and this version by Wayne Eagling encapsulates all that is loved most about the festive ballet. Over 100 dancers and musicians bring to life the popular Tchaikovsky score featuring the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Waltz of the Flowers, performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.

Learn more about Nutcracker.

English National Ballet in William Forsythe's Playlist (Track 2) during the 70th Anniversary Gala © Bill Cooper.
English National Ballet in William Forsythe's Playlist (Track 2) during the 70th Anniversary Gala © Bill Cooper.

Performances of THE FORSYTHE EVENING will now take place at Sadler’s Wells from 31 March – 10 April 2022, replacing dates in April 2021.

In 2018 English National Ballet premiered William Forsythe’s first creation for a UK ballet company in over 20 years, Playlist (Track 1, 2).

The Company’s relationship with the revered American choreographer continues with a triple bill that comprises of the UK premiere of Blake Works I, featuring the music of James Blake’s album, The Colour in Anything. Alongside Approximate Sonata 2016 (first performed by English National Ballet in 2018), we will also present for the first time in the UK an extended version of Playlist (Track 1, 2), Playlist (EP).

Learn more about THE FORSYTHE EVENING.

Emerging Dancer 2020 winner Ivana Bueno performing Talisman c Laurent Liotardo
Emerging Dancer 2020 winner Ivana Bueno performing Talisman c Laurent Liotardo

Each year, the staff at English National Ballet selects promising young dancers to star in their annual competition, Emerging Dancer. Whilst an absence of live performance has made it impossible to select finalists and a People’s Choice Award winner this year, the Company continues to recognise the excellence of its Artists with Emerging Dancer: A Celebration. Performances from previous winners will be live streamed from the Holloway Production Studio in English National Ballet’s east London home on 02 September 2021.

Tamara Rojo said: “Despite the challenges of the last year, I am proud that through our digital work we have continued to create and to engage with our audiences. Indeed, in sharing work online, we have reached more people than ever before, and I am so pleased that we will continue to do so.”

More details to be announced.

English National Ballet's home on London City Island © Michael Molloy.

English National Ballet’s new home to be named Mulryan Centre for Dance

2019 saw English National Ballet enter a new chapter in its history when it moved into a purpose-built state-of-the-art home in a new east London neighbourhood, London City Island. Today, the Company announces that its award-winning building will be named Mulryan Centre for Dance, after the family of one of its major supporters, Sean Mulryan, Chairman and Group Chief Executive of major developer Ballymore.

Tamara Rojo said: “On behalf of all of us at English National Ballet I want to thank Sean Mulryan for his incredible generosity. This building has transformed the way we work, providing us with the scale and versatility to be more creative and ambitious than ever before. That has been particularly true this last year when, despite the huge challenges faced, it has allowed our dancers to safely rehearse, given us the space to innovate and create, and enabled us to continue connecting with our audiences and communities, near and far.”

Sean Mulryan said: “The arts, culture and design are essential to our lives and to our wellbeing. We must appreciate the significance of the arts to our quality of life, in particular it is this that gives London its soul. English National Ballet is a treasured national asset, and we should all be grateful for what they and other artistic talents, bring to our society. I have been pleased to support them, and urge others to support the arts, especially at this very difficult time.”

Maria Kochetkova joins as Lead Principal

International ballet star Maria Kochetkova returns to 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. She also danced as a Guest Artist with English National Ballet in performances of Cinderella in-the round in 2019.

Tamara Rojo said: “I am delighted that Maria has decided to join ENB as her home company. I have known and admired Maria for many years and I look forward to welcoming such a dedicated, intelligent, and versatile artist. I am sure our audiences will delight in her performances.”

English National Ballet will launch a new ballet talent pipeline project

A high-quality 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 (London), Dupont Dance Stage School (Leicester), Beckenham Ballet Academy (Beckenham), The Joanne Bond School of Classical Ballet (Rayleigh), and The Janet Lomas School of Dancing (Bury).

The initiative aims to contribute to and promote a diverse classical landscape by proactively encouraging and incentivising more dancers from traditionally underrepresented groups. English National Ballet’s senior leadership team will work with members of the Company’s artistic staff as well as Company dancer, Sarah Kundi, who will help shape the programme and be a mentor to the children involved in the project.

An initial 12-month pilot phase of the project will begin in July 2021. Further details will be announced soon.

Dance Leaders of the Future programme to expand

The successful pilot of this programme offered Company dancers the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and gain experience and a greater understanding of the running of an arts organisation. The programme will expand to span two years and will further include a specialist focus area and an independently-led project.

ENB Engagement programme

The 2021/2022 Season reactivates Dance Journeys Digital Works, Digital Arts Award packages and Ballet Explored as a blended model for schools. ENBYouthCo will return to the Mulryan Centre for Dance for their weekly sessions, and Dance for Dementia galvanises partnerships with care homes. Much-loved programmes Dance for Parkinson’s and ENBEldersCo will continue to adapt and innovate for accessibility and connection.

English National Ballet is grateful for the generous grant it has been awarded through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which allows it to continue to create, perform and serve its audiences.