Tamara Rojo at London City Island.  Photo Perry Curties

Tamara Rojo at London City Island.
Photo Perry Curties

David Mead

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School have today (May 22) announced plans for a new joint home in East London.

The joint home will be at London City Island, E14, a new neighbourhood under development by Eco World Ballymore, who have committed 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 already home to an emerging creative and arts cluster. The companies seek to move into the new premises in Autumn 2018.

The new building is being designed by 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 at home and abroad.
  • A dedicated music room for the English National Ballet Philharmonic.
  • Open spaces that will give the public access, including 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. The rehearsal space has been designed so it can be used for any theatre production, not only dance.

London City Island CGI

London City Island CGI

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School 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.”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London commented; “The planned relocation of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School to East London is an exciting development for one of the finest dance companies and schools in the world. Having bespoke, state-of-the-art facilities will strengthen this internationally renowned company’s ability to create new work and to rehearse, as well as allowing its talent development and creative learning plans to flourish. The move will also open up new opportunities for local collaborations and further increase East London’s growing status as an important cultural centre.”

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 (which trains dancers from age 16-19) 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.

Samira Saidi, Director of Dance at English National Ballet School said; “We are really pleased to be planning for a new home with English National Ballet. This will give our students not only the very best in training facilities, but the opportunity to live alongside and be inspired by the dancers of our Company.”