English National Ballet’s artistic director and lead principal dancer Tamara Rojo talks to Georgina Butler about why the company’s new double bill has the potential to change your life…

 

Tamara Rojo is in no doubt that we need the arts in our lives – that is why she has devoted herself to the business of ballet dancing.

The Spanish ballerina danced with Scottish Ballet and English National Ballet early in her career, before moving to The Royal Ballet for twelve glittering years. Dedicated, ambitious and articulate, Tamara dreamt of not only dancing with a world-class company but also running one. This dream came true when she was appointed in the dual role of artistic director and lead principal dancer of English National Ballet in 2012. Upon starting the top management job, she initiated a rebranding process to sharpen the company’s identity as a distinctive troupe of incredibly versatile ballet dancers with something to say.

Five years later and the touring company, which endeavours to bring ballet of the highest quality to the widest possible audience, has found lots to say under Tamara’s leadership. It has developed collaborative relationships with exciting choreographers; confidently crossed into the realms of contemporary dance; staged new versions of old classics and made history as the first ever ballet company to perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.

English National Ballet returns to Milton Keynes Theatre with a brand new double bill from Tuesday – and Tamara will perform a lead principal role. Unsurprisingly, keeping on top of her duties as artistic director and the demands made on her as a dancer keep Tamara extremely busy.

Happily, she still managed to find time for a chat…

 

 

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English National Ballet is to make a much-anticipated return to Milton Keynes Theatre with an exciting new double bill next week.

When the dancers tour to the venue for their annual autumn visit, they will perform Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Song of the Earth alongside Frank Andersen’s faithful recreation of La Sylphide. Both works are recent additions to English National Ballet’s repertoire so audiences in Milton Keynes will be among the very first dance lovers to see them performed by the company.

 

 

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You can’t help but be charmed by clever Christopher, the protagonist of multi award-winning National Theatre production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Christopher finds people difficult. He is irked by idioms, muddled by metaphors and baffled by body language. Ultimately, he is catastrophically confused by the chaos and uncertainty that unfamiliar people have the potential to bring to his painstakingly structured world. Consequently, fifteen-year-old Christopher avoids strangers and has never left his quiet cul-de-sac in Swindon unaccompanied.

How brave, then, for this mathematically gifted teenager with behavioural problems to adopt the role of detective in a bid to solve a curious incident involving the murder of his neighbour’s dog.

 

 

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Grease is the word on everyone’s lips at Milton Keynes Theatre this week and the fabulously fun show is the perfect pick-me-up production to see out the summer holidays in style.

This toe-tapping tale introduces us to members of the 1959 senior class at Rydell High School in California as they return after summer vacation. The teens each do their best to fit into their respective cliques but it becomes apparent that naïve new girl Sandy Dumbrowski and too-cool-for-school bad boy Danny Zuko shared a secret summer romance. What is not so clear is how far their fling progressed. As peer pressure from the ‘T-Birds’ (a gang of cool dudes with greased hair and black leather jackets) and the ‘Pink Ladies’ (the poodle-skirt wearing popular girls, led by sharp-tongued Rizzo) mounts, will Sandy and Danny ever admit they have found the one that they want?

With Grease, audiences really do have a rather good idea of what to expect and fans are hopelessly devoted to the phenomenon it has become. After all, the 1978 film starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta is a cult classic and the unforgettable songs and characters have achieved iconic status. The current touring production opens with the orchestra rocking out above the stage, giving seasoned fans and newcomers alike the chance to show their appreciation for the tunes to come. Each instrumentalist has a solo spot and the anticipation builds…

 

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The youngsters in this year’s Stage Experience production at Milton Keynes Theatre are having a blast with the speakeasy sass, splurge guns and silliness of Bugsy Malone.

As expected, summer youth musical theatre project Stage Experience is tackling the tongue-in-cheek musical comedy with its usual verve. This is the sixth production the Creative Learning team has delivered since the scheme began in 2011 and, happily, the spectacular annual event looks set to continue. It’s a huge undertaking for Milton Keynes Theatre but it provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to perform in a professional setting. Indeed, it is not only an experience for the participants themselves, it is also a novelty for the parents, siblings, extended family members and friends who support the cast from their seats in the vast auditorium.

Hundreds of local wannabe performers aged 10 to 21 were whittled down to a company of one hundred over two days of auditions during the Easter holidays. Rehearsals then started in earnest at the end of July, with cast members and creatives working tirelessly to create a full-scale production in just twelve days.

 

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