The English National Ballet’s new artistic director Tamara Rojo is paying tribute to legendary dancer and choreographer, Rudolf Nureyev with three works to commemorate the 75th anniversary of his birth and the 20th of his death.
Speaking of the Nureyev legacy, Rojo released a statement: “Nureyev is without a doubt the most inspiring figure in the history of male dancing. His defection caused a huge stir, but most importantly he changed forever the way we viewed the role of the male ballet dancer in the west. His huge legacy left an imprint throughout the classical repertoire and he continues to be an inspiration to the generations of young dancers today.”
The three works that will be staged include Michel Folkine’s “Petrushka”, Maurice Bejart’s “Song of the Wayfarer” and Nureyev’s “Raymonda, Act III”. The triple bill entitled “A Tribute to Nureyev” celebrates the dancer’s legacy and pays homage to his most celebrated roles and progression as an artist from the 19th century classics, to contemporary French work, and Nureyev’s restaging of the Petipa classic.
This is the first time ENB will be performing Nureyev’s staging of “Raymonda”, which was first performed in 1964 in Italy but Act III was adapted in 1969 as the wedding scene between Raymonda and her knight. Marius Petipa choreographed the original ballet in 1898 for the famed Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg and Nureyev performed the role of the knight many times during his career with the Kirov before defecting to the West in 1961. The triple bill will be performed at the London Coliseum from July 25-27, 2013.
Rojo also announced that she wants to take new risks with ENB by inviting new choreographers to work with the dancers while respecting the classics. The company will perform Jiří Kylián’s “Petite Mort” for the first time and newly appointed Associate Artist, George Williamson, will create “My First Cinderella” to give young audiences an introduction to ballet. The intended audience is for ages three an over and the aim is to cultivate an interest and appreciation for ballet. “My First Ballet” will also give students from the English National Ballet School the experience of working with a professional company, as they will be working with Williamson, who is an alumni of the School, during the staging of the piece, as well as performing it on tour.
“I want to transform English National Ballet into England’s most creative and most loved ballet company, embracing and commissioning brave new works whilst keeping the classics relevant. The English National Ballet will build on its great tradition to nourish artists be they dancers, choreographers, composers, designers or teachers,” said Rojo.
The spring season will also include Roland Petit’s “Le Jeune Hommes et la Mort”, whose enchanting role of the tormented young lover to a faithless woman have attracted the likes of Baryshnikov and Nureyev, Harald Lander’s “Etudes”, and the classics in the autumn with “Swan Lake”, “The Sleeping Beauty”, and “The Nutcracker”.
Rojo will perform the roles of Aurora and the Sugar Plum Fairy in the company’s productions of “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker” in addition to her directorial duties. To focus on the company and the new direction she is taking it, Rojo said she would not be performing as a guest dancer with any companies this year.