English National Ballet’s stunning new double bill Song of the Earth / La Sylphide embodies what I love most about dance: you can lose yourself in it and it makes you think.
The compelling Song of the Earth / La Sylphide programme is at Milton Keynes Theatre all week and ticketholders will not be disappointed. This is another unmissable offering from a company determined to ensure ballet evolves so it has relevance for audiences, today and in the future, while simultaneously paying tribute to its glorious history.
Juxtaposing Kenneth MacMillan’s breakthrough, avant-garde masterpiece, Song of the Earth, against the quintessential Romantic era ballet, La Sylphide, is an inspired expression of English National Ballet’s enduring mission. Seeing these two new additions to the company’s repertoire performed back-to-back affords us the opportunity to admire the scope of ballet as an art form and the versatility of the dancers.
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 Rojo 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…
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.
Incredible dancing. Intense storytelling. Totally immersive. English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan is an epic dance experience. Everything about Akram Khan’s Giselle is so inspired that, after joining an elated audience in a lengthy standing ovation, I left Sadler’s Wells utterly convinced that no words will ever do this masterpiece justice.
The company, under the direction of Tamara Rojo, is intent on evolving the art of ballet. While still honouring the classical tradition (the dancers begin their Nutcracker season at Milton Keynes Theatre next week), English National Ballet is adding amazing diversity to its repertoire with fresh new works. Following the resounding success of Dust, his piece for the Lest We Forget programme, anticipation has been sky-high for Akram Khan’s Giselle.
In short, Akram Khan’s Giselle is a triumphant re-imagining of the 1841 Romantic Era ballet. All the essential themes – love, betrayal, revenge, the opposing realms of life and death – remain but Khan’s vision teases out the dark undertones that have always been there. Dragged to the surface, these elements are expressed with visceral urgency, arresting intent and harrowing sensibility.
Awesome and absorbing, Lest We Forget makes for an evening to remember
Dance may be the most transient of mediums but English National Ballet’s emotive Lest We Forget will forever remain with audience members privileged to see the award-winning triple bill at Milton Keynes Theatre last night.
Commissioned to commemorate the centenary of the First World War, this mixed programme of profoundly powerful pieces of contemporary choreography astounded fans and critics alike when it premiered in London at the Barbican in 2014 and during its recent revival at Sadler’s Wells. A huge departure from the traditional classics that theatregoers associate with English National Ballet, ‘Lest We Forget’ marks artistic director Tamara Rojo‘s boldest move so far.
Inspired by the loss, longing, pain, sacrifice, strength and sadness evoked by war, Lest We Forget reflects upon the experiences of both the men who went off to fight and the women who were left to keep the home fires burning. Liberated from the conventions of classical ballet technique, English National Ballet’s dancers effortlessly embody the approach to movement taken by each of three of today’s most celebrated British choreographers: Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett.