English National Ballet has announced that Artistic Director and Lead Principal Dancer, Tamara Rojo, will step down towards the end of 2022 to take up the role of Artistic Director at San Francisco Ballet. Rojo said,
It has been an honour to have led this extraordinary company for the last 10 years. I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved together, from the tremendous talent working within and alongside the Company, to creating and moving into the amazing new building we now call our home, to the off-stage communities we have established with our education and engagement work.
Since Tamara’s appointment to the role in 2012, she has gained acclaim for artistic excellence and creativity by introducing ground-breaking works into the Company’s repertoire, while continuing to celebrate the tradition of great classical ballet and attracting world-class talent. She has evolved the artform with bold commissions from both established and emerging creatives, including more than 40 works choreographed by women across English National Ballet’s programming.
English National Ballet’s fundamental aim to bring world-class ballet to the widest possible audience has always resonated with me. It is the reason the Company has been a part of my life for so many years, from performing here as a dancer early in my career, to returning as Artistic Director in 2012. My admiration and support do not end here, I will remain invested in English National Ballet’s continued success in the years to come.
It has been a privilege to be the custodian of English National Ballet and as I prepare to hand over the reins, I am confident that this world-class company which is at the forefront of ballet’s growth and evolution with a much-deserved place on the international stage, will continue to flourish and thrive.
Rojo will move to San Francisco with her partner Isaac Hernández and their nine-month-old son Mateo. Hernández was recently appointed a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet after previously dancing in the Company’s corps de ballet and as a soloist in 2010. Of SF Ballet, Rojo says,
I’ve long admired San Francisco Ballet as one of the most creative dance companies in America, offering so many different artistic voices the opportunity to create works for some of the best dancers in the world. I’m excited to join SF Ballet to add to the innovative spirit of the company as we reassess what the future of ballet can and should look like, opening the best of what our art form can offer to the widest possible audience. And while internationally recognized both for its performances and training, SF Ballet has a deep, year-round commitment to San Francisco audiences and the community—a dynamic community that my family and I very much look forward to joining and exploring.
Throughout the immense challenges of the last two years, Rojo has been a dedicated advocate, not just for English National Ballet but for the wider creative industries, making the case for the importance of the arts and demonstrating the strength, resilience, and collective determination within the industry to persevere and innovate.
ENB will appoint an Artistic Advisory Panel to support the board in the search for a new Artistic Director. Rojo will remain in her post until late in the year to ensure a smooth transition. A further update will be provided at the appropriate time.
English National Ballet’s Chair, Sir Roger Carr, said:
Tamara is a remarkable person whose vision, intellect and energy has propelled English National Ballet to new heights. The Company has outstanding dancers, a fine building with state-of-the-art facilities and a repertoire strengthened by significant new works. Collectively, these assets will provide a strong foundation on which the new Artistic Director can build the next exciting chapter in the life of this remarkable Company.
After ten years at the helm, the legacy that Tamara leaves will be long lasting and it is hoped that in her new position in San Francisco she will have the opportunity to capitalise on past achievements and build a bridge between these two great ballet companies for joint endeavours to our mutual benefit. I speak on behalf of us all at the English National Ballet when I offer my sincere thanks and wish Tamara every success in the future.”
In her new role in San Francisco, Rojo will helm America’s oldest professional ballet company, and her appointment concludes a ten-month international search for a new artistic director led by a committee co-chaired by Board of Trustees members Sunnie Evers and Fran Streets. Rojo will succeed Helgi Tomasson following his 37-year tenure and will join the Ballet at the end of 2022. Evers and Streets said,
SF Ballet is thrilled that Tamara Rojo will be joining us in San Francisco as artistic director later this year. She’s had an outstanding international career as a dancer and has been a transformative artistic director over the last near-decade. Classical ballet is evolving from a very ‘traditional’ past, and as a creative visionary, Tamara is the dynamic leader who will change and expand upon how patrons of dance will be able to see and engage with it. She is the voice of the future, and we are delighted she will be here at SF Ballet.
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.