English National Ballet announces changes to the company and plans for Autumn 2020

The Emerging Dancer 2020 finalists (c) Photography by Laurent Liotardo, post production by Nik Pate

English National Ballet announced its revised plans for Autumn 2020, as the Company’s previously scheduled performances have been cancelled due to the continuing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

An exciting new digital season of short works for camera from choreographers including Russell MaliphantSidi Larbi CherkaouiYuri Possokhov, Arielle Smith and ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur will be created, rehearsed, and performed by Company dancers in English National Ballet’s studios within COVID secure guidelinesThis marks the first time Cherkaoui and Smith have created work for ENB’s main Company, and the first time Possokhov has created work for a UK Company.

Shown in a series of mixed bills, these new works will be available to rent via ENB at Home, a new video-on-demand service from English National Ballet. ENB’s digital season is currently in rehearsal and will premiere in November and December 2020.

Following the cancellation of performances at Southbank Centre, English National Ballet will now perform and stream its 11th annual Emerging Dancer competition from its own production studio at London City Island. Celebrating the bright future of ballet and the excellence of the Company’s Artists, Emerging Dancer will see this year’s finalists Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prigent, Emily Suzuki and William Yamada perform a classical pas de deux followed by contemporary pieces choreographed by ENB Lead Principal Jeffrey Cirio, ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur and Mthuthuzeli November. We will also see performances by last year’s winners Julia Conway and Rhys Antoni Yeomans who will be dancing a new creation by Arielle Smith. Emerging Dancer is produced by First Soloist James Streeter as part of ENB’s new dancer development programme, Dance Leaders of the Future.

The Emerging Dancer finalists are now back in the studio, being mentored by their peers and preparing to perform in front of a panel of eminent judges including Edward Watson, Kerry Nicholls and Kenneth Tindall, on 22 September. Audiences around the world will be able to pay to watch this live streamed event for a fee of £5 and for the first time, will also be invited to cast their own votes by text and select a People’s Choice winner.

In all, English National Ballet will present nine new commissions this Autumn Season.

English National Ballet in Akram Khan’s Giselle © Laurent Liotardo.

The new ENB at Home on demand platform will not only host filmed performances of new works and events, but will also be a home for additional high-quality on-demand ballet content beyond the stage, such as performances including Le Corsaire and Akram Khan’s Giselle, both of which were recorded specifically for screen, and selections from the archives following the success of English National Ballet’s recent Wednesday Watch Parties.

Building on the popular series of classes which ENB made available online during lockdown, the ENB at Home platform will continue to give people the opportunity to actively engage with ballet-based exercise from home with a subscription-based class programme. Opting for either a monthly or annual subscription, users will gain access to over 100 hours of material including ballet classes, yoga, and fitness sessions. The launch date for the ENB at Home digital platform will be announced shortly.

English National Ballet’s planned UK premieres this Autumn of Creature by Akram Khan and the Company’s new version of Raymonda, choreographed by Tamara Rojo after Marius Petipa, have been postponed owing to the closure of venues, and the difficulty in achieving the original timeline for the creation of these two new large-scale ballets under lockdown. Creature will now have its premiere in September 2021 at Sadler’s Wells, whilst Raymonda’s premiere date is to be announced.

Plans for English National Ballet’s Winter Season 2020/2021 will be confirmed in due course. With changes in government guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic now allowing indoor performances with socially distanced audiences, English National Ballet is exploring options with partner venues.

As well as other company’s, English National Ballet‘s 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 seasons have been greatly affected by the unexpected advent of the global pandemic. The repertoire has been reduced, and the costs must be reduced as well. The Company are delighted to acknowledge members of the company with promotions this year, but sadly say goodbye to others who following discussions have chosen to leave English National Ballet to pursue other projects:

  • Francisco Bosch, 8th Year Artist, after 17 years with the Company
  • Fernando Bufalá, First Soloist, after 7 years with the Company
  • Barry Drummond, First Artist, after 10 years with the Company
  • Shevelle Dynott, 8th Year Artist, after 15 years with the Company
  • James Forbat, First Soloist, after 15 years with the Company
  • Daniel Kraus, Junior Soloist, after 16 years and 11 months with the Company
  • Adela Ramirez, First Soloist, after 22 years with the Company
  • Maria José Sales, 8th Year Artist, after 6 years with the Company
  • Jia Zhang, First Artist, after 11 years with the Company

Earlier this year, the company also said goodbye to First Soloist Crystal Costa and 8th Year Artist Joshua McSherry-Gray, after 12 and 11 years with the Company respectively. Jane Haworth, who joined us as a dancer in 1983 and then became Character Artist and Artistic Coordinator, retired in June. Artist of the Company Maeve Nolan also left at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Francesco Gabriele Frola as Conrad in Le Corsaire © Laurent Liotardo.
Francesco Gabriele Frola as Conrad in Le Corsaire © Laurent Liotardo.

Everyone at ENB wants to thank all these dancers for their contribution and dedication to the Company over the years. Their performances, smiles and generous work mentoring younger artists will be remembered.

“I want to offer heartfelt thanks to these dancers”, says Artistic Director Tamara Rojo. “Their talent and artistry will be missed by all, colleagues and audiences alike. We wish them all the best for the future.”

Lead Principal Jurgita Dronina, who previously split her time between us and National Ballet of Canada, will not return next season. Jurgita will continue to dance in Canada and we hope to work with Jurgita again in the future.

“During my time with English National Ballet I have shared some of my best performances”, said Jurgita, “and been able to witness and be part of the historical change and accomplishments the Company has achieved so far. I am looking forward to hopefully finding a different way to continue my association with the Company when times are more certain.”

Precious Adams. Photo by Pickled Thoughts

ENB also announces the following promotions which have been made within the Company:

  • Gabriele Francesco Frola has been promoted to Lead Principal.
  • Daniel McCormick has been promoted to Soloist.
  • Precious Adams, Julia Conway, Anjuli Hudson and Erik Woolhouse have been promoted to Junior Soloist.
  • Emily Suzuki has been promoted to 8th Year Artist of the Company.
  • Matthew Astley, Noam Durand, Rhys Antoni Yeomans, Victor Prigent and Miguel Angel Maidana have been promoted to 6th Year Artist of the Company.
  • Carolyne Galvao and Rentaro Nakaaki have been promoted to 5th Year Artist of the Company.

Tamara Rojo said: “Congratulations to all of our promoted dancers, this recognition is well-deserved and I’m looking forward to seeing them all continue to develop and flourish in the Seasons to come.”

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