Tamara Rojo on her aspirations for English National Ballet
At the launch for English National Ballet’s 2012/13 season today, her first as its Artistic Director, Rojo says, “fifteen years ago, a 22-year-old dancer arrived at Jay Mews, the home of English National Ballet, full of dreams and aspirations. Then, as it is today, ENB was an institution to be reckoned with — open and inclusive, but always committed to achieving excellence in dance.
For that dancer, reaching ENB was the culmination of tens of thousands of hours of work – early mornings, evenings, weekends. It was the end of a journey that started as a five-year-old peering into a dance studio enchanted by what she saw. I was never the best dancer in the world – but I was the most bloody-minded…Getting to English National Ballet had been my ambition – and I had achieved it.
My time as a dancer at ENB helped forge my values and my philosophy. Its ethos “to bring ballet, to the widest possible audience” had a lasting influence in shaping my views on the impact and responsibility that our art form has towards society. And so today, as ENB’s new artistic director, I want to take this opportunity to present to you, not only the season preview, but also my vision and aspirations for the next few years in the history of this great company.
My ambition is simple — to transform English National Ballet into the country’s most creative and most loved ballet company, embracing and commissioning new work while at the same time keeping the classics relevant. I want to create the right balance, so we move forward artistically while continuing to pay respect to the past.
ENB is of course important in maintaining standards in ballet, but it has wider responsibilities too. Together we will build on our great tradition as an institution that nourishes artists be they dancers, choreographers, composers, designers or teachers.
I want ENB to be a great partner for others working in the artistic space. I want us to become the go-to collaborator whether you’re a fine artist or fashion designer. Our core is the best ballet in the world, but we can only do that if we partner with others.
I want to attract the audiences, old and new, inspire them, entertain them, stimulate and challenge them, making them want to be a part of this organization. Our audience should not only be affluent and London-based. We must continue to reach out to everyone in society, wherever they live, whatever their means. Classical ballet can be seen as obscure and out of reach for many people. It isn’t and shouldn’t be, and we will work as hard as possible to make ballet relevant, accessible, fun, challenging – a great night out. Never the sole domain of the moneyed and powerful.
These are the ambitions and values I have as Artistic Director and they have helped shape my first season. Some of you may be wondering if I am not a little naïve, trying to be more risk-taking and creative than ever before, in these times of economic hardship. But I believe that now, more than ever, we must be even more creative and imaginative.
In Britain we care about arts and culture. We know it sustains us, inspires us, challenges us to think about our lives. Artists, writers, actors, designers, musicians, dancers, composers – in this country we can proudly say, we have the best in the world.
And let me say this — it is exactly at times like this when, for some people, hope in the future is lost, that the arts help, lift spirits and waken ambition.”