Tamara Rojo has had a career of two halves. Having trained as a dancer in Spain, she moved to the UK in 1996 to join the Scottish National Ballet. She first joined the English National Ballet in 1997, where she became principal dancer, before moving to Royal Ballet in 2000. In 2012, came a shift, when Rojo became artistic director at the ENB. She continues as a principal dancer for the company too, placing her in the unusual position of being both a creative leader and a performer.
Rojo feels that her decades as a dancer prepared her to take on the direction of the company. “What was surprising was how much you do know as a performer about how to manage the company,” she said in a profile in CR in July 2015. “You absorb a lot of knowledge within the company and you absorb a lot about the things you like and the things you don’t like and the ways you would like to do things. It wasn’t such a big step. The only step is that my thoughts, instead of keeping them to myself, I was now sharing them and when I shared them, there were consequences!” Rojo has brought a dynamism to the ENB in the four years she has been in charge, overseeing dramatic development, both in the type of productions that are staged and the branding and marketing style of the company.
BELOW: Trailer of Lest We Forget, including commissions by Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett.
In 2014, the ENB became the first associate company of Sadler’s Wells in London, leading to a series of experimental productions. Rojo is keen to encourage other performers to be involved in ENB’s ongoing evolution too, something she was never invited to do earlier in her career. “The people that have to lead the art form are the practitioners,” she says. “It cannot be the intellectuals, it cannot be the management. I can come up with the ideas and the plan, but the people that have to deliver it on stage are the artists, and I find that most of the time, the more you encourage the artists to take freedom, to experiment, the better it gets.”
Tamara’s headshot ©Jeff Gilbert