English National Ballet and Sadler’s Wells partner together.
ENB in rehearsal. Photo by Laurent Liotardo, Courtesy ENB.
Two of the biggest forces in British dance are teaming up. Leading performance center Sadler’s Wells has announced that English National Ballet, spearheaded by ballerina Tamara Rojo since 2012, will become its first associate ballet company this spring, performing two seasons each year. The idea was sparked, says Sadler’s Wells CEO and artistic director Alistair Spalding, by a conversation with Rojo. “We have the same beliefs in the art form, the same way of looking at it,” he says.
As part of the arrangement, Sadler’s Wells will co-produce new work and financially support ENB’s seasons at the venue. For ENB, the partnership is a boost to both finances and creative morale. Praising Sadler’s Wells’ “long tradition of presenting innovative repertoire,” Rojo said she hoped the move would “enable us to perform bold works, many new to English National Ballet.”
Beyond cultivating new dances, Sadler’s Wells will play host to mixed bills that have proved difficult for ENB to sustain at bigger venues and on tour. ENB’s first program in March will include works by William Forsythe, John Neumeier and Jirí Kylián. A revival of the company’s recent Lest We Forget program, which includes Sadler’s Wells associate artist Akram Khan and Russell Maliphant’s first works for the company, follows in the fall. Khan will return in 2016 to choreograph a new Giselle. But there will be no Nutcracker at Sadler’s Wells: ENB will continue to perform its repertoire of classics at other venues in London, including the Coliseum.
ENB may be Sadler’s Wells’ first associate ballet company, but the crossover of Rojo’s artistic vision fits in with the venue’s ethos. “The distinctions between genres are becoming grayer and grayer,” says Spalding. “The questions we ask are, Where is ballet now? Where is it going? How can we help it thrive?”