The first photos of English National Ballet's new production of Raymonda are of the rehearsals that took place in the company's Holloway Production Studio at its east London home, the Mulryan Centre for Dance. This theatre sized space has a fully fitted fly tower that allows for technical rehearsals with costumes and scenery.
English National Ballet's Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo, is making her debut as a choreographer and director with this production. She “adapts this 19th-century classic for today's audiences, revisiting this important but rarely performed work of the ballet canon which is not, in its entirety, in any other UK dance companies' repertoire”. With a new narrative that brings women's voices to the fore, Rojo's Raymonda introduces a heroine in command of her own destiny.
It continues to be a part of my vision for English National Ballet to look at classics with fresh eyes, to make them relevant, find new contexts, amplify new voices and ultimately evolve the art form. I have truly enjoyed delving into the creative process of adapting and choreographing a large-scale ballet.
Raymonda is a beautiful ballet – extraordinary music, exquisite and intricate original choreography – with a female lead who I felt deserved more of a voice, more agency in her own story. Working with my incredible creative team, I have set Raymonda in a new historical context, adapting the narrative in order to bring something unique, relevant and inspiring to our audiences.
This story is about many themes; duty, war, patriotism, culture, but at its centre are the nurse characters – inspired by Florence Nightingale's vision, drive and passion. Reflecting on the last 18 months, we have seen how nurses, and many others in the medical sector, sacrifice so much to take care of other people and I hope this, in some small way, pays homage to them.
Raymonda is a co-production between English National Ballet and Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Following its world premiere run at the London Coliseum from 13 – 23 January 2022, it will be performed on tour at Southampton's Mayflower Theatre from 30 November – 03 December 2022.
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.