English National Ballet 2023-24 season from Artistic Director Designate Aaron S. Watkin

English National Ballet has announced the 2023/2024 season, the first programmed by Artistic Director Designate Aaron S. Watkin.

Featuring two world premieres, a UK premiere, a Company premiere and revivals of some of English National Ballet’s most iconic works, the season represents the vast spectrum of ballet, forging innovation with ground-breaking new productions while continuing to honour the great tradition of large scale classical ballet.

Artistic Director Aaron S. Watkin said: “Being entrusted to lead this brilliant organisation is a privilege. I am so grateful to be able to show audiences my vision for English National Ballet and share the immense talent and versatility this Company has to offer. By pairing works from some of the greatest classical choreographers with visceral new works by some of the most exciting artists working today I believe we are showcasing the full potential of this brilliant artform for audiences across the country. I am proud to build on Tamara’s legacy and will continue to forge innovation and embrace the great tradition of classical ballet. I am excited to bring the whole Company and our audiences on this journey, as we take English National Ballet into the next chapter in its rich history.”

Opening the season at Sadler’s Wells is a new triple bill, Our Voices featuring three ballets in three diverse styles: classical ballet, neo-classical ballet and contemporary dance, showcasing the strength and versatility of the Company.

Our Voices sees the World Premiere of a new interpretation of Les Noces by American choreographer Andrea Miller with artwork by renowned sculptor Dame Phyllida Barlow. Presented in its centenary year, Les Noces is a visceral piece that sees the dancers joined on stage by a live chorus from Opera Holland Park, accompanied by English National Ballet Philharmonic.

Returning to English National Ballet for the first time in 15 years, one of the world’s leading neo-classical choreographers, David Dawson presents the World Premiere of his latest creation Four Last Songs. An uplifting and poignant work, Four Last Songs explores the beauty of humanity and the circle of life, set to the final score by Richard Strauss.
David Dawson said “I was introduced to Four Last Songs at the age of 19 and it has been a constant presence in my life ever since – through all of my experiences, a true companion. It is an honour for me to be able to create this new ballet to a piece of music that is so close to my heart.”

Completing the programme for Our Voices is Theme and Variations by one of the most influential choreographers in ballet, George Balanchine. New to English National Ballet’s repertoire, Theme and Variations sees 13 couples take to the stage in a beautiful showcase of virtuosity, featuring new set and designs for 2023 by Roberta Guidi di Bagno.

Having been seen by over 140,000 people in 10 countries and 16 cities around the world, Akram Khan’s Giselle returns with performances on tour this autumn in Manchester and Bristol. In this acclaimed reimagining of the classic ballet, it tells the story of love, betrayal, and redemption, with an imposing set designed by Academy Award-winner Tim Yip.

Offering audiences the chance to see two versions of one of the great romantic ballets in the same season, Mary Skeaping’s production of Giselle returns to the London Coliseum in January 2024. With its classical language, Giselle features some of ballet’s most dramatic scenes and otherworldly images.

The Nutcracker goes on tour for the festive season at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton in November and at the London Coliseum in December. Continuing English National Ballet’s tradition of presenting a version of Nutcracker every year since 1950, this production has already been seen be over 800,000 people, bringing joy to audiences young and old.  

At Sadler’s Wells in spring 2024 is the UK Premiere of Johan Inger’s award-winning Carmen. Originally created for Spain’s Compania Nacional de Danza, this two-act ballet tells the tragic love story of Carmen, Don Jose and the Toreador. Set to a score by Bizet and Shchedrin with new music from Spanish composer Marc Álvarez. Carmen offers audiences the chance to see a bold reimagining of this classic tragedy from Inger, whose work is rarely seen in the UK.

One of the biggest spectacles in ballet, Derek Deane’s Swan Lake in-the-round returns to the Royal Albert Hall in summer 2024. Over 100 performers, including 60 dancing swans, bring the classic love story to life on one of the world’s most famous stages. Featuring Tchaikovsky’s glorious score, performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic, Swan Lake in-the-round is perfect for both dedicated fans and first-time ballet goers.

For the first time since 2019 English National Ballet and English National Ballet School present My First Ballet: Swan Lake at the Peacock Theatre over Easter 2024. The perfect introduction to ballet, this specially adapted version of the world’s most iconic ballet sees a narrator guide the audience along, making ballet accessible to audiences as young as three. The run will also include a relaxed performance as part of My First Inclusive Ballet outreach programme as well as a series of on-stage family workshops.

Returning in May, Emerging Dancer shines a light on talent throughout the Company. This special event sees the finalists showcase their artistry on stage. Alongside the Emerging Dancer Award, the evening will also see the winner of the People’s Choice and Corps de Ballet Award announced.

Following a successful pilot last year, Ballet Futures, a talent pipeline project to incentivise young people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to participate in professional training, continues this year. Alongside schools in Birmingham, East London, Leicester, and West London, Ballet Futures expands to include the Adagio School of Dance in Brentwood, Essex. 2023 also marks the reimagining of ENBYouthCo, now in its 11th year and continuing to nurture talent and creativity through co-creation and performance opportunities.

English National Ballet is an industry leader in creative engagement practice, with pioneering programmes including Dance for Parkinson’s, which this season will be delivered via six national hubs and as an online offer, and Dementia initiative Mindful Movers, delivered in care homes in East London.

The season also sees Ballet Explored, our flagship project engaging pupils from secondary schools delivered in areas with low arts provision, and Re-Play, an annual community performance platform for English National Ballet’s Engagement, Youth and Community dance groups from across East London.

Launched as a direct response to the pandemic, English National Ballet’s online platforms – Ballet Active and Ballet on Demand – continue to expand the Company’s reach, engaging more people in ballet. With over 200 classes and counting, Ballet Active gives people the chance to access a huge variety of dance classes, from ballet to contemporary, flamenco to South Asian dance, led by some of the leading names in dance including Alleyne DanceJose Agudo and Sujata Banerjee. Ballet on Demand allows people to revisit some of English National Ballet’s iconic productions and specially commissioned films, available to rent or buy.

This season will also see the continued national and international distribution of Creature, a collaboration between English National Ballet, Academy Award winning director Asif Kapadia and Akram Khan. Hailed as “a new frontier for cinema” (Little White Lies) Creature will also join Ballet on Demand on 22 May 2023.

For more information, dates & tickets visit: English National Ballet