Aaron comes to English National Ballet from the Semperoper Ballett in Dresden, Germany, where he has served as Artistic Director since 2006. During his tenure, he has built an internationally respected reputation for the company, known for the diversity of its artists and repertoire. He has presented works by some of the world’s most renowned choreographers, from George Balanchine to Pina Bausch, William Forsythe to Martha Graham.
Aaron’s appointment as Artistic Director sees him return to English National Ballet having previously danced with the Company thirty years ago. Born in Canada, his stage career also saw him dance with National Ballet of Canada, Dutch National Ballet and Ballett Frankfurt, before becoming a Choreographic Assistant to William Forsythe, staging his works throughout the world.
Of his appointment, Aaron S. Watkin said: “I am delighted to be returning to English National Ballet to lead the company forward as Artistic Director. I have a great appreciation for all of Tamara’s achievements in developing and diversifying the company over the past 10 years. ENB has established itself as a creative force and it is an honour to be entrusted to continue to build on this”
“It is my ambition to further develop the Company’s unique identity at the forefront of dance: embracing tradition and forging innovation. I want to lead a truly open and inclusive organisation that continues its founding principle to bring world class dance to the widest possible audience.”
“Over the last 17 years at Semperoper Ballett, I have built a creative, nurturing environment for all to thrive in, both on and off the stage. I look forward to continuing this with English National Ballet, working alongside the Company’s exceptional dancers, creatives and staff to create a vibrant future.”
Patrick Harrison, Executive Director of English National Ballet said: “I am thrilled that Aaron will be joining English National Ballet as Artistic Director. With his extensive experience, passion for the artform and vision for the company, I look forward to working together as we enter our next chapter. I would like to thank the Search Committee who have overseen the extensive and highly competitive search for our new Artistic Director, and also Tamara, whose leadership leaves a lasting legacy on which to build.”
Sir Roger Carr, Chair of English National Ballet added: “On behalf of the Board of Trustees I would like to say how delighted we are that Aaron will be joining English National Ballet. His wealth of experience and impressive leadership will ensure the company is best placed to continue its outstanding work and remain a key player in the creative industries well into the future.”
The news follows January’s announcement that Tamara Rojo CBE will step down in late 2022 to take up the position of Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet.
English National Ballet’s outgoing Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo commented: “I would like to congratulate Aaron on his appointment as Artistic Director. Leading English National Ballet for the last ten years has been a great privilege. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together, but my admiration and support do not end here. I will remain invested in the company’s continued success and look forward to seeing it continue to evolve and inspire audiences across the UK and around the world.”
Aaron will spend time with the Company, meeting regularly with dancers and staff before officially taking up the role of Artistic Director in August 2023.