English National Ballet’s platform for emerging dance makers, Choreographics, will take place at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio on 19 and 20 June, a programme celebrating young choreographers. The initiative of the event focuses on the development of up and coming choreographers both within and outside the Company, offering them the opportunity to progress their skills as creators and discover their own choreographic language.
Recent debate regarding the absence of female choreographers in the dance industry has been heartfelt and passionate, so it is encouraging to see female dancer Stina Quagebeu as part of the programme, following Artistic Director Tamara Rojo’s additions to the debate. For the first time, Choreographics is open to artists outside of English National Ballet in 2015, and sees work presented by Morgann Runacre-Temple, choreographer in residence at Ballet Ireland since 2009, who has created four full-length ballets for the company; and Renato Paroni de Castro, who has previously choreographed works for Sarasota Ballet and London Studio Centre’s classical ballet performance group, Images of Dance.
The six works programmed are completed by company dancers, inspired by the theme of post war America, from English National Ballet artists Fabian Reimair, who created We Are Free for last year’s programme; James Streeter, who’s work In Living Memory was performed at Latitude Festival in 2014; Quagebeur, who’s Vera was selected by The Breaking Glass Project and performed in New York, and who recently worked on English National Ballet’s second Dance Journeys project at Sadler’s Wells; and Max Westwell, making his debut as a choreographer in a professional setting.
Each choreographer will receive mentoring from award-winning choreographer Russell Maliphant and dancer, choreographer and teacher Kerry Nicholls. Musical guidance will be received from English National Ballet’s Music Director Gavin Sutherland, and each piece created will be performed by English National Ballet company members, ensuring the roots of the competition continue to flourish.
The winner of English National Ballet’s 2015 Emerging Dancer Award – the company’s sixth competition – was Jinhao Zhang. Zhang, who joined the Company just last year after graduating from English National Ballet School, performed the Dying Swan which he choreographed himself, and also a pas de deux from Don Quixote with fellow nominee and English National Ballet School graduate Isabelle Brouwers. The evening also saw Laurretta Summerscales named as the recipient of The People’s Choice Award, voted for by members of the public throughout the 2014/2015 season.
The annual competition, held at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, was judged by an esteemed industry panel: Leanne Benjamin AM OBE, Michael Nunn OBE and William Trevitt OBE (BalletBoyz), Wayne Sleep OBE, Didy Veldman and English National Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. The judges had a hard task on their hands in their requirement to select a winner from such huge talent and strong performances on stage.
The competition allows English National Ballet to recognise and nurture talent and encourage excellence in the Company. The other finalists for 2015 were Anjuli Hudson, Jeanette Kakareka, Katja Khaniukova, Vitor Menezes and Max Westwell, all of whom performed admirably. The finalists are voted for by English National Ballet’s dancers, Artistic team, orchestra and administrative staff, and then perform in front of a panel of eminent judges. The Emerging Dancer Award winner is announced together with the recipient of the People’s Choice Award, which is voted for by members of the public throughout the year.
Before the winners were announced, last year’s joint Emerging Dancer Award winners, Junor Souza and Alison McWhinney, performed a pas de deux from Liam Scarlett’s No Man’s Land: Junor, who also won the 2014 People’s Choice Award, has since been promoted to First Soloist and performed Principal roles in Swan Lake and Nutcracker. Alison has since been promoted to First Artist.
English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire is now available on-demand in HD for the first time, courtesy of DigitalTheatre.com Collections. To rent, the cost is £3.99, and to buy, it is £10.99, expanding the ballet content of DigitalTheatre.com. Le Corsaire is the first production to be captured live for English National Ballet.
Le Corsaire (The Pirate) is a thrilling ballet about Conrad, a dashing pirate, and his love for Medora, a beautiful harem girl. It is a swashbuckling drama of captive maidens, rich sultans, kidnap and rescue, disguise and conspiracy, love and betrayal, culminating in a shipwreck which is one of the most breathtaking spectacles in ballet. English National Ballet is the first UK company to perform the complete work, which showcases some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet repertoire.
Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood has created new sets and costumes for the lavish piece, an adventure story which promises unmissable entertainment. DigitalTheatre.com will mean English National Ballet’s Le Corsaire can be shared on screen with a global audience. DigitalTheatre.com Collections is a unique cultural service that provides a platform for producers of quality content that has previously been recorded, forming a catalogue of recent and contemporary theatre, concerts, opera, ballet and dance. It is the world’s best on-demand global arts entertainment platform.
DigitalTheatre.com has over 40 West End and Broadway shows available to rent or buy in HD, with a global reach in over 220 countries. Working in partnership with leading theatre companies it captures stunning live performances authentically created for a fully immersive on-screen experience. The spectacle and choreographic brilliance of Le Corsaire is perfectly matched with the platform, and is a thrilling addition.
It has been announced that English National Ballet will become Sadler’s Wells’ first associate ballet company. This exciting relationship will see ENB present two annual seasons at Sadler’s in the spring and autumn of each year from March 2015 onwards.
Future plans include a new triple bill with choreography by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jiří Kylián, the return of the acclaimed Lest We Forget programme, and a new production of Giselle choreographed by Akram Khan in autumn 2016.
The company is renowned for its commitment to bringing ballet and contemporary choreography to the widest possible audiences, making it the perfect match for Sadler’s. The new contemporary work commissioned by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo has added an exciting dimension to ENB’s reputation and repertoire, the result of a clear vision for ballet in the 21st century. Rojo will continue to honour great classical works, keeping them relevant to today’s audience, while introducing new works into the company’s repertoire; the classics of the future with Sadler’s as a platform to present them.
ENB’s new triple bill Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography programme includes the UK premiere of Neumeier’s Spring and Fall, Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, which is new to the company’s repertoire, with Kylián’s Petite Mort completing the programme.
Lest We Forget, inspired by the centenary of the First World War, includes work by three British choreographers; Dust, by Khan, looking at the empowerment of women in war as the main workforce in the country; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant’s Second Breath about the sacrifice of men; and No Man’s Land by Liam Scarlett, exploring relationships and the loss and longing felt by women left behind by their partners.
Meanwhile, Khan’s new version of Giselle aims to give this iconic ballet his own unique interpretation that fulfils an important part of the company’s vision; to commission and present innovative collaborations that honour and enhance both traditional and contemporary ballet.
From 7-18 January, English National Ballet will return to the London Coliseum with Derek Deane’s critically acclaimed production of Swan Lake, following a UK tour.
Arguably one of the most popular ballets created, Swan Lake tells the story of Prince Siegfried’s love for the Swan Queen, Odette, their battle against the evil magician, Rothbart, and an encounter with the manipulative Odile. This popular production brings the romance and high drama of the Russian ballet tradition alive: this version premiered at the London Coliseum in 2000 and has since been seen by over 550,000 people around the UK.
Continuing to work with the very best talent from around the world, Swan Lake will see Guest Artists Ivan Vasiliev, Alban Lendorf and Vitor Luiz perform alongside Alina Cojocaru, Tamara Rojo and Fernanda Oliveira respectively.
Swan Lake also sees Lead Principal Elena Glurdjidze’s farewell performance with the Company on 18 January. Glurdjidze has been with the English National Ballet company for 12 years of her professional career; in her time she has performed lead roles in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle and Manon to name a few. She was nominated for Best Female Dancer in the Critics’ Circle Awards in 2009 and won the Ballet.co.uk Audience Poll for Best Female Dancer in 2007 and 2008.
The company has been at the heart of the UK for decades, and it is clear that the dancers have earned such places too. Under the leadership of Tamara Rojo, it is clear the dancers are flourishing and the company is going from strength to strength. As Artistic Director she is providing increasingly significant opportunities for the dancers, including those with numerous guest artists who are internationally renowned. Bringing their talent and expertise to the company means it can continue to thrive.
There has been lots of exciting news for English National Ballet recently, including its presenting Modern Masters: Icons of 20th Century Choreography at Sadler’s Wells in March 2015 (including works by Forsythe, Neumeier and Kylián), two new regional hubs for English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme, the My First Ballet series continuing with a brand new version of Swan Lake and a large international tour to take place in 2015.
Modern Masters will include works from two choreographers new to the Company’s repertoire; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Spring and Fall by John Neumeier. The triple bill also includes Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, first performed by the Company in Ecstasy and Death in 2013. Originally created for Hamburg Ballet, Neumeier’s Spring and Fall is not in the repertoire of any other UK company. Set to Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings in E Major, it features two couples and corps de ballet.
English National Ballet is committed to presenting the very best of both traditional and contemporary ballet to audiences across the UK: bringing these works to Sadler’s Wells continues this commitment and offers the opportunity to reach new audiences. Continuing to develop its work with Dance for Parkinson’s, English National Ballet will expand its regional class programmes to include DanceEast in Ipswich and National Dance Company Wales in Cardiff.
English National Ballet will take its critically acclaimed production of Coppélia to Southampton, Oxford and Bristol, and ahead of its run at the Coliseum in January 2015, Derek Deane’s Swan Lake will tour to Manchester, Milton Keynes and Liverpool. Making ballet accessible to audiences as young as three years old, the popular My First Ballet… series continues with My First Ballet: Swan Lake. The production will run at the Peacock Theatre, London, followed by a six week UK tour.
Principal casting for English National Ballet’s autumn UK tour, and performances of the classic The Nutcracker, have recently been announced, with a multitude of pairings to watch once summer is over.
Joining English National Ballet from Boston Ballet, Alejandro Virelles will make his debut as Principal, performing the role of Prince Siegfried alongside Alina Cojocaru’s Odette/Odile in Derek Deane’s Swan Lake. We will also see lead roles from Ksenia Ovsyanick, who was recently promoted to Soloist, and her debut as Odette/Odile with Zdenek Konvalina; Tamara Rojo and the winner of Emerging Dancer 2014 Junor Souza; Fernanda Oliveira and Dmitri Gruzdyev; and Shiori Kase, who was promoted to First Soloist and her debut as Odette/Odile, with Yonah Acosta, who was promoted to Principal. Deane’s traditional production tours to Manchester in October, followed by Milton Keynes, Liverpool and the London Coliseum.
After a critically acclaimed run at the London Coliseum in July this year, Coppélia begins a UK tour to Southampton in October, also heading to Oxford and Bristol. Following their debut performance in the lead roles of Franz and Swanilda, Acosta will also perform alongside Kase on tour. Coppélia is the comic tale of an eccentric toymaker and his mechanical doll. Dr Coppélius, the toymaker, creates a lifelike Coppélia doll and wishes to bring her to life.
Nutcracker returns to the London Coliseum from 11 December 2014-4 January 2015. First performed in 2010 to celebrate English National Ballet’s 60th anniversary, Wayne Eagling’s version has since been seen by over 300,000 people. Principals for Nutcracker include Laurretta Summerscales with identical twins Guilherme Menezes and Vitor Menezes, both making their debuts as the Prince and Nutcracker.
This is English National Ballet’s 11th production of Nutcracker since it performed its first full length Nutcracker in 1950, its founding year. Since then, English National Ballet has established the tradition of performing Nutcracker at Christmas every year.
Following the My First Ballet series, English National Ballet and English National Ballet School are presenting Coppélia from April to the delight of young children everywhere. From 5 April–25 May 2014 the Peacock Theatre in London and a national tour will see Coppélia visit Shrewsbury, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Woking, Aylesbury and Bromley.
My First Coppélia is the third in the My First Ballet series, the comic tale of an eccentric toymaker and his mechanical doll, based on Ronald Hynd’s original production. The dancers will wear the beautiful costumes from the professional company’s full production, giving audiences the look, feel and quality of a classic ballet, but understandable for all. The adapted story and choreography will make the ballet more approachable and fun for younger audiences.
Last year’s creative team of Gavin Sutherland and ENB’s Associate Artist George Williamson, a graduate of ENBS, will be collaborating again to bring young audiences their first taste of ballet, with captivating music and beautiful choreography performed by the students. George’s first major commission was Firebird for English National Ballet. He returns to the My First Ballet series after choreographing last year’s My First Cinderella.
Children aged 3 and over can get their first taste of classical ballet with this magical production. The simplified version builds on the great success of My First Sleeping Beauty and My First Cinderella, developing the audience of tomorrow and establishing long term relationships with the arts.
English National Ballet was awarded a £114,520 grant from the Leverhulme Trust in 2013. The grant was awarded to support two years of the series and English National Ballet are delighted that the funding will also support My First Ballet: Coppélia, helping to develop the dancers of the future and enable students with outstanding potential to gain vital skills by working with a professional company.
Daria Klimentová, one of English National Ballet’s Lead Principals has announced she will retire after dancing the role of Juliet at the Royal Albert Hall in June with long-time partner Vadim Muntagirov. Despite his recent departure to The Royal Ballet the pair have formed one of the most admired ballet partnerships. He will return to the Company to play Romeo in Derek Deane’s spectacular production of Romeo & Juliet in-the-round and partner Klimentová in her final performances.
Performed by a huge company of 120 dancers, actors and sword-fighters, the production is an epic staging of Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy. This acclaimed production brings to life all the emotions of the world’s greatest love story, from the majestic sweep of the masked ball to the passion and intimacy of the lovers’ balcony scene. Klimentová has recently named dancing Juliet with Vadim Muntagirov as one of her favourite roles.
Klimentová has become one of the most respected and accomplished stars of classical ballet over her professional career spanning 25 years, 18 of those spent with ENB. She has performed many of the greatest roles in classical ballet to critical acclaim due to the technical precision, virtuosity and dramatic quality of her performances.
Klimentová danced first with the National Theatre Ballet Company, Prague (joined 1989, Soloist, Principal); going on to the Cape Ballet Company, South Africa (joined 1992, Principal) Scottish Ballet (joined 1993, Principal) and before joining English National Ballet as a Principal in 1996. She has the won Paris Dance Foundation Prize at Prix de Lausanne, first place Tokyo (1989), International Ballet Competition, Pretoria (1991), and received The Patron’s Award from Dame Beryl Grey (2011). Daria won the 2011 Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for Outstanding Female Dancer.
Image courtesy of Laurent Liotardo Photography.
Johan Kobborg has recently been appointed as director of the National Romanian Ballet, taking up his new post in February 2014. This announcement came after the first night of Kobborg’s production of La Sylphide for the company, which opened on 7 December, meaning Kobborg will be at the helm of the company, steering it in an exciting direction.
Both Kobborg and his fiancé Romanian ballerina Alina Cojocaru, who danced the first night La Sylphide with The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae, left The Royal Ballet as Principals this summer in order to pursue other artistic challenges: Cojucaru joined English National Ballet and has since danced Principal roles in Le Corsair and The Nutcracker.
Born and trained in Denmark, Kobborg joined The Royal Ballet in 1999, along with Cojucaru, where they danced throughout the classical, Ashton and MacMillan repertoire and in many new ballets. The dancers gave many memorable performances as members of The Royal Ballet, both at the Royal Opera House and around the world. Over the past ten years, their unique partnership has developed and the couple’s last UK performance as members of The Royal Ballet was in Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling on 5 June. In July they danced on tour with the company in Tokyo.
Kobborg has praised the National Romanian Ballet company, saying on Twitter that “Romanian Ballet has more natural born Sylphs than any other company I ever worked with”; his directing of the company looks set to hold lots in store for the lucky dancers. In recent years, Cojocaru has staged galas to raise money for Romanian Hospices of Hope and she has also given the Romanian National Ballet 50% of its annual supply of pointe shoes.
In the past Kobborg has also worked around the world as a producer and choreographer, staging Bournonville’s La Sylphide and Napoli and creating his own ballets.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.