News: English National Ballet move East

Friday 22 May 2015 by Carmel Smith

Tamara Rojo at London City Island. Photo courtesy Perry Curties

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School today announce plans for a new joint home in East London. The move will bring under one roof one of the world’s leading ballet companies with a world renowned ballet school, and will create a centre that combines state-of-the-art training facilities, teaching and rehearsal studios alongside a unique production space unrivalled in the capital.

English National Ballet is currently based at Jay Mews in Kensington operating out of a 19th century building originally designed for student housing, with only two rehearsal studios and with small offices arranged over multiple floors. English National Ballet School inhabits part of the listed Carlyle building in Fulham where it began with 12 students working across two studios and is now training upwards of 75 students per year with very little additional space.

The joint home will be based at London City Island E14, a new neighbourhood being created by Eco World Ballymore – who are supporting the development by committing to delivering the shell and core of the building. English National Ballet and English National Ballet School will jointly fundraise for the costs of fitting out the facility. The development is a short distance from Canning Town and adjoins Trinity Buoy Wharf, which is home to an emerging creative and arts cluster.The companies hope to move into the new premises in Autumn 2018.

Tamara Rojo, who has transformed and invigorated English National Ballet since she was appointed as Artistic Director in 2012 said “I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve in the last few years, and I now want to push the Company to the forefront of excellence and innovation by developing top talent, collaborating with the best artists at every stage of the artistic process, and creating an environment to produce ground-breaking and lasting new work that will inspire and excite audiences.
“I want to create a new space that allows us to produce and rehearse amazing work. Not only that, I want a building that will be available for other artistic organisations to rehearse too, whether they are staging opera, musicals or theatre. I want the space to echo to the sound of creative Britain.”

The new building is being designed by leading architects Glenn Howells Architects, and will include:
• A theatre-sized studio space for the development and rehearsal of productions and creation of new commissions;
• Eight large studios for rehearsals and teaching;
• Training facilities including gyms, pilates and a modern rehabilitation centre;
• Digital infrastructure which will allow both organisations to capture and share work and engage with audiences around the UK and the rest of the world;
• Dedicated music room for the English National Ballet Philharmonic
• Open spaces that will give the public access to English National Ballet and English National Ballet School’s archives, and encourage engagement with local communities.

The centrepiece of the new facility is a rehearsal and development space, which includes a ‘fly tower’, needed for dress rehearsals with full sets and orchestra. This requires a 600sq meter wide, 23 meter high space. The rehearsal space has been designed so it can be used for any theatre production, not only dance.

Caroline Thomson, Executive Director of English National Ballet said “This move means we will have a new home with the kind of facilities one would expect from a world-class company, ensuring we can continue to deliver the kind of artistic achievements we have become synonymous with. I hope that our company will be inspired by the energy of the students from English National Ballet School, and the school will be inspired by the artistic excellence of our Company.”

With East London Dance’s long track record of work in the locality, Sadler’s Wells due to open a new space in the Olympicopolis development on Stratford Waterfront and Wayne McGregor basing his company and new studio facilties in Here East (the London 2012 media building) East London is fast becoming a focal point for dance. The Guardian talks more about the gentrification of the East.

“Canning Town, in the borough of Newham, remains one of the most deprived parts of the country. However, amid London’s ongoing property boom, it is experiencing renewed construction, most notably at London City Island… The ENB’s move emphasises two ongoing trends within London: first the breakneck speed of gentrification amid even previously unfashionable central districts; and second, a gradual but definite eastward shift for the city’s artistic scene.”

Read more: The Guardian, 22 May 2015

Photo: Tamara Rojo at London City Island by Perry Curties

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