Monday, 21 January 2013

Tamara Rojo

Tamara Rojo, Ballet Association meeting, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church - 18th September

Artistic director of English National Ballet and former Royal Ballet principal, Tamara Rojo, spoke to the Ballet Association on Friday. Passionate and intelligent, she gave opinions on a variety of topics, a small selection of which are included here.
 
Rojo chatting to attendees after her talk
Photo: Laura Dodge
On Sergei Polunin: “You can ride on your talent and instinct up to a point but then you have to really work. Sergei has a gift – but it's also a curse. He didn't ask to be given that talent. We have to give him space.”
 
On Liam Scarlett: “Liam is one of the most talented choreographers around - we have only seen the beginning. He can take the most talented Royal Ballet stars and we all respect him and want to please him. I did think he shouldn't give up his dancing yet and I told him that; I think
choreographers with a longer dancing career have a better ballet language.
“When he first said, would you be naked onstage? [in Sweet Violets], I almost fainted! Fortunately I wasn't completely naked, but it took all my courage in rehearsal to do it the first time.”

On dancing Princess Epine in The Prince of The Pagodas:
Since I've worked with a sports scientist, my jump has improved. I enjoyed the role – Epine is a fantastic character. She's hard done by: her father split the kingdom unequally – what was she supposed to do?”
 
On Birthday Offering: “It was all about the dancers at the time. Even before we started rehearsing, we knew we'd lost. We were going to be compared to the original dancers and whether we were better or worse, we wouldn’t be the same. The audience and critics are never happy".

On reinterpreting ballets: “We need to interpret old choreographies like Shakespeare. Why do people go on and on about Hamlet? Because every production is different. I think we should do the same with ballets, otherwise no one will want to watch them in 50 years. Choreographers need to be less precious about their work and let new generations reinterpret it.”

On Kenneth MacMillan’s ballets: “Song of the Earth is my favourite Kenneth Macmillan ballet. It's a masterpiece. The last pas de deux is a joy to do.”

On becoming an artistic director: “Applying to be the Royal Ballet artistic director was a learning experience in how to convey my vision. It made me sure it was what I wanted to do. I'm very proud to be ENB's director.  
“I knew it was the right time because I wanted to do it. The position I hold as a ballerina is essential to do the things I want with the company such as draw media attention and attract collaborators. I have already achieved a lot as a dancer so I no longer feel hungry for myself.”
 
On English National Ballet: “I have an almighty team and I think it shows already. Loipa Araujo is the best ballet teacher and coach in the world.
"I want to give ENB an identity of its own. I don't want it to be considered the lesser ballet company in London.”
 
On future choreography for ENB: “In Petite Mort [part of the ‘Ecstasy and Death’ triple bill in April], the language is so specific that you can't change anything. We've been rehearsing since September and it’s a 20 minute ballet!
"My favourite ballet is Mats Ek’s Carmen. He's coming to see ENB at the end of the season. I will wine and dine him to get him to work with us!
"I want to bring lots of new choreographers as well as restore old repertoire, but I also want to save room for George Williamson and other choreographers from the company.”

 
On the challenges and successes of her new role: “I’m very busy – I don’t sleep much! But on tour, a child saw our Sleeping Beauty and then told me he wants to become a ballet dancer. That was my greatest success ever!"

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