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Changes at the ENB:


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I tried to start a fresh topic, being positive about Tamara Rojo's appointment as AD of ENB. Why was it closed and my post moved to this old topic which has rather negative comments about her?

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  • Doubleturn


  • HullDancer


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We try/ like to keep the comments regarding same topic in one thread. That way all sides, angles, perspectives give us an opportunity to be exposed to and, hopefully, develop a well-rounded and more informed opinion. Negative takes are all part of it. :wink:

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But it isn't the same topic. This thread is about Wayne Eagling stepping down. It's practically done and dusted now - ancient history. The one I tried to start is about Tamara Rojo, the future. Many people who aren't interested in Wayne Eagling might not bother to read this thread any more, but I am sure a lot of people out there are very interested in Tamara Rojo!

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Thank you for the summary of the interview. I wish Ms. Rojo the best of luck. It won't be easy but she's one smart cookie!

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Thanks for changing the thread title; it got my attention as I've always been interested in Rojo's career.


Merde to Rojo!

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Rojo is my favorite dancer I've ever seen live across the board. There are some dancers that I like in particular things, but I've loved her in everything (even when I've loved other dancers in the same roles) because I can see how much thought she's brought to what she's doing. I've seen her in classes and rehearsals several times, and she is always working hard.


I've been following the coverage and will post here when I have time, but this interview stood out to me, and yes, La Rojo, you have something to say:


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I changed my post as it fitted the one in Cross Talk more. I hope I'll get to see her when I move to London, I'll definitely take the chance while living there to see both RB and ENB.

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Doubleturn - I can only assume you are accusing me of being negative about Rojo, which is only partly true. My concern with her is less about her ability, her ambition, her creativity etc... and more to do with the fact that I do not believe she is right for ENB. I don't really give a monkeys who is at the helm as long as they can be a stable hand on the tiller, which Eagling managed to be (with varying degrees of success). It's a shame that nobody else was really in the frame for the job, as I just can't seeing this being a happy marriage.


We ENB fans have seen it all before, the appointment of a director who is going to clash with the management over their 'artistic vision' and end up out of a job in a couple of years because the ideas are not realistic for a company of ENBs size. She is already talking about commissioning a whole load of new repertoire, which is just not going to be possible whilst balancing the budget, developing the companies commercial success and also fulfilling its mandate to tour affordable ballet around the UK and abroad. Also, it might be her vision for the company, but will her plan to diversify the repertoire be right for audiences? I don't think so... and ENB proving its worth for government subsidy by attracting big audiences is a must.


In 15 years of watching ENB on a regular basis, the only time I have seen packed houses is for their reworking of Nutcracker with designs by Gerald Scarfe. This was a triumph, and most importantly, theatres were full of young families, and children watching with absolute silent rapture. This is tradition with a twist of the contemporary, and is the only way ENB will continue to be successful.


Rojo's grand ideas for a move away from tradition and classics will not bring audiences to ENB. It might impress the critics, but it won't get bums on seats. And out there in the regional theatres, the bums on seats need to be children and young people who need inspiring by ballet. Unfortunately, children are not going to aspire to dance a Wayne McGregor style 'ballet'... but show them a bright, fluffy, zesty production of an age old fairy story and you've got their attention. Change for changes sake would be wrong for ENB on so many levels.


Rojo is right for a company like the Royal Ballet. They have their subsidy and are in no risk of losing it, or having it significantly cut. A director can walk in there and try brave, radical ideas without any risk. The Royal Ballet can do what it likes, it doesn't matter if the house if full or empty, as long as it maintains its world class status. ENB is a whole different ball game and I think she will ultimately be another director in the chain who arrive with all the fanfare, but who will end up falling foul of the management, the whole thing turning sour and sneaking out the back door.

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Thank you for explaining your concerns about this appointment, Hulldancer. I understand where there is room for concern there, but I think that all we can do now is really hope that she will have what it takes to make things work for ENB. Most everyone seems to be quite excited about Ms. Rojo becoming Director, and, since I do not know her except for her performing, I can only join in that excitement and really hope that she will be wonderful.


I don't think we can ever really know what to expect when starting with a new director, whether of a school, a ballet company, or actually almost any kind of company or organization. It is especially difficult when the person is relatively young and not experienced in this end of the organization. It can be kind of like a new young choreographer, in that they frequently just have so much ambition and enthusiasm that they overdo the ballet. Too many steps, and often just too much going on for it to work cohesively. With new young directors there can be the same tendency, that is, to try to do way too much too quickly. We have heard that she is full of ideas and things she wants to change. That is fine, but I hope that she has both the intelligence and the guidance from more experienced people, to know that she can't do everything the first day, or even the first week, month or year! Changes take time, and with time and experience in the job, perhaps one learns that some of those great ideas will work and some will not.

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I'm rushing out the door (to class!) in a minute, but wanted to reply. Hulldancer, I'm not only a fan of Rojo and the RB, but a huge fan of the ENB and BRB, companies which I got to see often, which my former teachers danced with, etc etc. If I could move back to the UK... sigh. That is for a different thread.


I've read I think almost every article and interview that has come out about Rojo (if folks want links, I am happy to share? Don't want to swamp this thread), and I have observed her in London going to a variety of other performances and asking serious questions whenever there is a pre or post-performance chat. One of the things I love about her is her inquisitiveness and work ethic, as you've rightly noted as well.


I've also seen those moments in the articles when she talks about new rep, etc. Simultaneously, in those same articles, I've read her own statements about making sure the classics are there (keeping the classics that are already scheduled for next season, to start with), and acknowledging the need to fill seats. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm reading a different emphasis into these articles - which makes sense, after all, as we all have our own starting points!


Let's hope that some of the balance that she's expressed is the way forward - I agree with you that ENB needs that balance, and is in particularly.... strange (?) position in regards to funding, facilities, and all that... and I think (hope?) that she's considered this. For the company that we both love, let's sit and watch, and hope that we like the show we see... I do think it may be until the 2013-2014 season until we see her full programming at work.

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I'm afraid I am just going to have to disagree with you HullDancer. I have been watching English National Ballet since it was London Festival Ballet and seen the ups and downs over the years. The Nutcracker with Gerald Scarfe designs was replaced with a new production this year, why if it was so good?


It was the rehearsals for this new production that featured in one of the episodes of "Agony & Ecstasy", the documentary about ENB. In this episode my heart sank when Wayne Eagling reduced the head of the shoe department to tears by telling her to throw away all the hand dyed boots for the men and start again. He had changed his mind about the length they should be. This was thousands of pounds worth, I should think at least equivalent to a corps de ballet salary. Such profligacy at a time when the budget was being cut seemed unbelievable. So I was not at all surprised to learn he was leaving ENB. Obviously there is more to the decision, but that was a very public mistake.


We all want the same thing - for ENB to flourish and so let's hope that Tamara Rojo will be able to realise her vision. In many of her interviews she reaffirmed ENB's charter to bring Classical Ballet to people in the UK at affordable prices.

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The Nutcracker with Gerald Scarfe designs was replaced with a new production this year, why if it was so good?


It was replaced because the critics savaged it, particularly finding fault that elements of the design weren't appropriate for children (machine gun props and so on). This wasn't audience feedback, but the critics doing what critics do - they reserve particular venom for occasions when a subsidised arts organisation dares to appeal to the mass market instead of the snobs (Judith Mackrell at the Guardian being the worst). The fact that the production was a sell-out commercial success seemed to bypass them, so the management decided to shelve it. Wayne Eagling actually fought to keep the Hampson production in the repertoire, hence the 2003 UK tour which was never meant to have gone ahead.


The Rojo thing aside, perhaps it's just me but I think that as the ballet company for 'the people', ENB should be in the business of selling tickets, not pleasing critics, and they are not going to achieve that by diversifying the repertoire. New English Contemporary Ballet was hailed as the great new ballet company touring new wave ballets round the country, but the second it's funding was cut it went into administration and it turns out they were playing to half empty houses at most venues. Surely if people wanted to see this kind of work, these type of companies would be flourishing? Arts council subsidy is surely there to SUPPORT a company, not prop-it-up against all the odds.


I suppose in my mind this all points to what really engages the audience with ballet, and the only way to judge that is on commercial success. And there's lots of companies that are filling theatres night after night, without government subsidies, and how are they doing it? They are doing it by peddling the classics, the Swan Lakes, the Nutcrackers, the Giselles, not contemporary nonsense that they don't understand. Have a look at Moscow Ballet La Classique, European Ballet, Vienna Festival Ballet, they survive because they give the audience what they want.


ENB can survive with a streamlined budget if it sticks to a selected repertoire of popular ballets done well. The subsidy then just means they are able to present these on a larger scale with better production values and a world class cast. And if it must be forced into arts council pleasing fare, then perhaps follow the model of other high profile companies and present modern works within a triple bill of more popular work.

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