English National Ballet’s purpose-built new home in Canning Town East London, was officially opened last night by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and is now open to the public.
English National Ballet’s new 8639 sq metre (93,000 sq ft) home houses a production studio with a fly tower, seven full-sized studios, state-of-the-art wardrobe and medical facilities as well as public spaces. The building gives English National Ballet the space and facilities needed to continue to develop its artists and create new works.
Earlier this year, City Hall published the first-ever study of dance performance and studio spaces in London. The research, published in May 2019, made it clear that London’s dance spaces are in demand: more than 3,800 people are based at dance premises across London on any given day. The findings highlighted the importance of access to affordable spaces to support London dancers and the need for local authorities and developers to work together to widen access to dance spaces in the city.
While visiting the new premises, the Mayor saw a performance of the Olivier Award-nominated Playlist (Tracks 1,2) created by William Forsythe for English National Ballet and performed by 12 of its dancers in the production studio.
The building has dedicated engagement and learning spaces, which yesterday showcased English National Ballet’s work with local communities, and there was a rehearsal from young members of ENBYouthCo. The Mayor also met participants in English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme and Dancing East, a programme of weekly ballet classes for over 50’s.
Sadiq Khan said,
London is a city full of creative talent, so I’m delighted that these world-class facilities are opening up opportunities to all Londoners. By enabling the community to practise alongside internationally-renowned professional dancers, these new spectacular studios not only showcase our capital as a world leader for ballet but help improve the lives and wellbeing of Londoners from all backgrounds.
The Mayor invested £1million through his Good Growth Fund towards English National Ballet’s new building. The Company now has the tools to launch its ambitious Bridging Neighbourhoods, Growing Talent project. Included in this is a skills programme that will provide training, apprenticeships, volunteering and learning opportunities for 4,000 Londoners over the next three years. This funding will also support new jobs at the facilities, supporting London’s creative industries to continue to grow.
It shows the positive impact that culture can have on our communities and, with work on East Bank already underway, is the latest step towards creating a global cultural powerhouse in East London. This sends a clear message to the world that London is open to talent and creativity and always will be.
At four times the size of its former building in South Kensington, English National Ballet’s new home allows the company to open up the creative process for more people to participate in and benefit from the art form. The building, by Glenn Howells Architects, has been designed to welcome in the local community, with views into the rehearsal studios, and exhibition space and café.
Tamara Rojo, the company’s Artistic Director, said,
Our new home is a hub for creativity, where imaginations will be ignited. It will be a springboard where artists from all disciplines can meet, grow, exchange, and inspire each other, creating work that can be shared with audiences up and down the country and across the world.
It is a space where everyone can feel welcome, where we can increase our engagement with our local community, and where people of all ages, young and old, from all backgrounds can enjoy our art form.
I truly believe that this is the best ballet centre in the world, which will transform the way ballet is created and open up the creative process to our audience.
The new home will become the focal point for ballet in the capital and on the world stage. It is the latest cultural centre to move to East and will be joined on London City Island by the London Film School. Future East London culture developments include East Bank, and the planned education district at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
English National Ballet School move into their spaces at the new building this winter.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.