Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of English National Ballet and one of the industry’s biggest names, is retiring after ten years in the position, the company announced on Tuesday.
The acclaimed dancer, who has introduced groundbreaking works into the ENB’s repertoire, including more than 40 works choreographed by women, will leave in late 2022 to become artistic director of San Francisco Ballet, where her husband, Isaac Hernández, was recently appointed a principal dancer.
Through innovative and risk-taking commissions such as Akram Khan’s Giselle, Rojo has been credited with giving ENB a new, international allure.
She also led ENB into a new era in 2019, when it relocated to the RIBA-award-winning Mulryan Centre for Dance in east London, several months before the pandemic. Since then, she’s been a vocal supporter of the arts, after ENB was forced to lay off 85 per cent of its workforce and many employees, including Rojo, took pay cuts.
She will make her choreographic and directing debut later this month with Raymonda, her first full-length ballet, which ENB will perform at the London Coliseum. In a recent interview with the Guardian, she discussed reimagining the 1898 ballet, set during the Crusades, as a new production inspired by Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War.
ENB has announced the formation of an Artistic Advisory Panel to assist the board in its search for Rojo’s replacement. Meanwhile, Rojo will become the first woman to lead the United States’ oldest professional ballet company, founded in 1933.
She stated in a statement that it had been “an honour” to lead ENB since 2012. “I am incredibly proud of everything we have accomplished together, from the incredible talent working within and alongside the company, to creating and moving into the amazing new building we now call home, to the off-stage communities we have established through our education and engagement work,” she said.
“The fundamental goal of English National Ballet has always been to bring world-class ballet to as wide an audience as possible.” It is the reason the company has been a part of my life for so long, from my early days as a dancer to my return as artistic director in 2012. This is not the end of my admiration and support for you. “I will continue to be invested in English National Ballet’s success in the coming years.”
Sir Roger Carr, chair of English National Ballet, said Rojo had propelled the company to new heights.
“After ten years at the helm,” he said, “Tamara’s legacy will be long lasting, and it is hoped that in her new position in San Francisco, she will have the opportunity to capitalize on past achievements and build a bridge between these two great ballet companies for joint endeavour to our mutual benefit.” “I speak on behalf of everyone at the English National Ballet when I express our heartfelt gratitude and wish Tamara every success in the future,” he added.