Photo by Karolina Kuras, Courtesy English National Ballet
In the six years since taking over as artistic director at English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo, 44, has been lauded for revitalizing the company. She has presented classics danced with gusto alongside contemporary commissions, including a radical reworking of Giselle by contemporary/kathak choreographer Akram Khan, setting the story in a community of migrant factory workers. ENB brings Khan's Giselle to Chicago's Harris Theater, Feb. 28–March 2, the company's first trip to the U.S. in 30 years.
Corrales as Ali in Le Corsaire. Photo by Laurent Liotardo, Courtesy ENB
There are many ways in which to be a great dancer, but there's no denying that precocious virtuosity is often the most eye-catching. For Cesar Corrales, his fail-safe talent for effortlessly explosive jumps, plus pirouettes that could seemingly spin for infinity (but which stop at exactly the moment of his command), have marked out the 21-year-old as one of the most exciting young dancers performing in the UK.
Juanjo Arques rehearses his "Homo Ludens" with Dutch National Ballet dancers. Photo by Altin Kaftira, Courtesy DNB.
"Choreographers don't just pop up fully formed," says Ted Brandsen, artistic director of Dutch National Ballet. "It's a responsibility for us, as company directors, to create room for the new generations of dancemakers."
Knowing the challenges, both artistic and practical, of setting out on a choreographic career, Brandsen has announced a four-pronged strategy for nurturing new talent at DNB. Alongside the long-running choreographic workshop for company dancers, which Brandsen helped launch back in 1985, there is now a choreographer and composer exchange with the British contemporary company Rambert. Brandsen is also mentoring DNB's recently appointed Young Creative Associates, Juanjo Arques and Peter Leung. And there will be a new annual Choreographic Academy, beginning in May, inviting young dancemakers to spend three weeks in research and creation with Dutch National's junior arm, focusing on process rather than product. One of the first four choreographers to take part is San Francisco Ballet's Myles Thatcher.
While there are other companies worldwide taking a proactive approach in this area—New York City Ballet, The Royal Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet all have initiatives Brandsen admires—it is not a universal practice.