Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet and one of the biggest names in the industry, is stepping down after 10 years in the post, the company said on Tuesday.
The acclaimed dancer – who introduced groundbreaking works into the ENB repertoire, including more than 40 choreographed works by women – will leave at the end of 2022 to take on the role of artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet, where her husband, Isaac Hernández, was recently appointed principal dancer.
Rojo has been credited with giving ENB a new international spin, thanks to innovative and risky commissions such as Akram Khan’s Giselle.
She also led ENB into a new chapter in 2019 by moving it to the RIBA award-winning Mulryan Center for Dance in east London, several months before the pandemic hit. She has been a staunch advocate for the arts ever since, after ENB had to lay off 85% of its workforce and a large chunk of staff, including Rojo, suffered pay cuts.
Later this month, she will make her choreographic and directing debut with Raymonda, her first complete ballet, which ENB will perform at the London Coliseum. In a recent interview with The Guardian, she spoke about the transformation of the 1898 ballet, which takes place during the Crusades, into a new production inspired by Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War.
ENB has announced that it will appoint an artistic advisory committee to support the board of directors in the search for Rojo’s replacement. During this time, Rojo would become the first woman to lead the oldest professional ballet company in the United States, founded in 1933.
In a statement, she said it has been “an honor” to lead ENB since 2012. “I am incredibly proud of everything we have accomplished together, from the tremendous talent working within and alongside the company, to the creation and entry into the incredible new building that we now call our home, for the offstage communities that we have established with our education and engagement work, ”she said.
“The fundamental goal of the English National Ballet to deliver world-class ballet to the widest possible audience has always resonated with me. This is why the company has been a part of my life for so many years, from my performances here as a dancer at the start of my career until my return as artistic director in 2012. My admiration and my support doesn’t end there. I will remain invested in the continued success of the English National Ballet for years to come.
English National Ballet President Sir Roger Carr said Rojo had taken the company to new heights.
“After 10 years at the helm,” he said, “Tamara’s legacy will be lasting and it is hoped that in her new position in San Francisco she will have the opportunity to capitalize on past achievements and bridge the gap between these two great ballet companies for common efforts to our mutual benefit. He added: “I speak on behalf of all of us at English National Ballet when I offer my sincere thanks and wish Tamara every success in the world. ‘to come up.”