Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of English National Ballet and one of the biggest names in the industry, is stepping down after 10 years in the role, the company announced on Tuesday.
The acclaimed dancer – who has introduced groundbreaking works into the ENB’s repertoire, including more than 40 works choreographed by women – will step down in late 2022 to take up the role of artistic director at San Francisco Ballet, where her husband, Isaac Hernández, was recently appointed a principal dancer.
Rojo has been credited with giving ENB a new, international allure, through innovative and risk-taking commissions such as Akram Khan’s Giselle.
She also led ENB into a new chapter in 2019 by moving it into the RIBA award-winning Mulryan Centre for Dance in east London, several months before the pandemic hit. Since then, she’s been a strong advocate of the arts, after ENB had to furlough 85% of its workforce and many of the staff, including Rojo, took pay cuts.
Later this month, she will make her choreographic and directorial debut with Raymonda, her first full-length ballet, which ENB will perform at the London Coliseum. In a recent interview with the Guardian, she spoke about turning the 1898 ballet, set during the crusades, into a new production inspired by Florence Nightingale and the Crimean war.
ENB said it will appoint an Artistic Advisory Panel to support the board in the search for Rojo’s replacement. Meanwhile, Rojo will become the first woman to lead the oldest professional ballet company in the US, founded in 1933.
In a statement, she said it had been “an honour” to have led ENB since 2012. “I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved together, from the tremendous talent working within and alongside the company, to creating and moving into the amazing new building we now call our home, to the off-stage communities we have established with our education and engagement work,” she said.
“English National Ballet’s fundamental aim to bring world-class ballet to the widest possible audience has always resonated with me. It is the reason the company has been a part of my life for so many years, from performing here as a dancer early in my career, to returning as artistic director in 2012. My admiration and support do not end here. I will remain invested in English National Ballet’s continued success in the years to come.”
English National Ballet’s chair, Sir Roger Carr, said Rojo had propelled the company to new heights.
“After 10 years at the helm,” he said, “the legacy that Tamara leaves will be long lasting and it is hoped that in her new position in San Francisco she will have the opportunity to capitalise on past achievements and build a bridge between these two great ballet companies for joint endeavours to our mutual benefit.” He added: “I speak on behalf of us all at the English National Ballet when I offer my sincere thanks and wish Tamara every success in the future.”