English National Ballet

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English National Ballet
General information
Name English National Ballet
Previous names
  • The Festival Ballet
  • London Festival Ballet
Year founded 1950
Patron HRH The Duke of York
Principal venue Markova House
39 Jay Mews
Website www.ballet.org.uk
Senior staff
Chief Executive Caroline Thomson
Director Tamara Rojo
Répétiteurs Associate Artist Director: Loipa Araújo
Repetiteurs: Hua Fang Zhang
Yohei Sasaki
Associate Artist: George Williamson
Artistic Co-ordinator: Jane Haworth
Artistic staff
Artistic Director Tamara Rojo
Music Director Gavin Sutherland
Official school English National Ballet School
Formation Lead Principal
Character Artist
First Soloist
Junior Soloist
First Artist

The English National Ballet is a classical ballet company founded by Dame Alicia Markova and Sir Anton Dolin and based at Markova House in South Kensington, London, England. Along with the Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet, it is one of the four major ballet companies in Great Britain. English National Ballet is one of the foremost touring companies in Europe, performing in theatres throughout the UK as well as conducting international tours and performing at special events. The company employs approximately 65 dancers and a symphony orchestra, and there is also an associate school, the English National Ballet School, which is independent from the ballet company. The company regularly performs seasons at the London Coliseum and has been noted for specially staged performances at the Royal Albert Hall, the Concert for Diana[1] and for producing a new ballet based on the animated TV character Angelina Ballerina.[2] The Patron of English National Ballet is HRH The Duke of York.


The English National Ballet was originally founded in 1950 by the renowned British dance couple, Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin.

Markova and Dolin were leading stars of the Ballets Russes, one of the most influential ballet companies of the 20th century. After the death of its director Serge Diaghilev in 1929, the company was disbanded and in 1931, one of its dancers, Ninette de Valois, founded the Vic-Wells Ballet company in London, with Markova and Dolin as Principal dancers, Markova becoming Prima Ballerina in 1933. Markova and Dolin left the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1935 to tour as the Markova-Dolin company and following the success of their performances, they decided to form their own company with the sole purpose being to tour both nationally and internationally, taking ballet to audiences that had not had the opportunity to see the art form.

Elena Glurdjidze as Swanilda & Aroniel Vargas as Franz in the ENB's production of Coppélia. Southampton's Mayflower Theatre. Also in the picture (bowing) is Michael Coleman as Dr. Coppelius.

The London Festival Ballet was founded in 1950 with the financial backing of the Polish impresario Julian Braunsweg. The name was inspired by the then imminent Festival of Britain, however the company would later be renamed to today's English National Ballet. Dolin was the company's first Artistic Director and established the company as a touring group both nationally in the UK and Internationally, touring abroad for the first time in 1951. Dolin also introduced a number of educational programs in the early years, designed to make ballet accessible to new audiences. Dolin remained as artistic director until 1962, succeeded by John Gilpin, who was also principal dancer with the company from 1950 to 1960 and 1962 to 1971. The company grew in size and status, undertaking extensive national and international tours, presenting a new generation of dancers—all while repeatedly facing bankruptcy. Braunsweg left in 1965 and Donald Albery took over until 1968, stabilising the budget with safer programming. Former Royal Ballet dancer Beryl Grey directed the company (now named the London Festival Ballet) from 1968 to 1979, raising technical standards, touring widely and inviting prominent guest stars and choreographers including Leonide Massine and Rudolf Nureyev, who picked ballerina Eva Evdokimova to be his first Princess Aurora in his production of The Sleeping Beauty in 1975. Evdokimova in turn became the prima ballerina of the company under Grey's leadership and continued to reign under successive directors John Field and Peter Schaufuss.

It was Evdokimova who suggested to change the name to English National Ballet to reflect the company's role as Britain's only classical ballet company dedicated to touring ballets nationwide at an affordable price for audiences. The name change was implemented in 1989.

Ivan Nagy (until 1993), Derek Deane (until 2001) and Matz Skoog (until 2006) directed the company before Wayne Eagling, former head of Dutch National Ballet, took over in 2006. In April 2012, following the February sudden announcement of resignation by Eagling, principal dancer for the Royal Ballet Tamara Rojo was announced to become his successor at the end of the 2012 season, in August of that year.[3]


Artistic Directors:


The company's dancers are listed on the official website with photographs and linked biographies.[5]

Lead principals[edit]

Name Nationality Training Joined ENB Rank Other Companies
Alina Cojocaru  Romania Kiev Ballet School
Royal Ballet School
2013[6] Lead Principal Royal Ballet
Kiev Ballet
Hamburg Ballet
Elena Glurdjidze  Georgia Tbilisi Choreographic School
Vaganova Ballet Academy
2002[6] Lead Principal Russian Ballet Company
St Petersburg State Academic Ballet
St Petersburg Ballet Theatre
Dmitri Gruzdyev  Russia Vaganova Ballet Academy 1993[6] Lead Principal Kirov Ballet
Daria Klimentová'[7]'[8]  Czech Republic Prague Conservatory 1996[6] Lead Principal National Theatre Ballet, Prague
Cape Town City Ballet
Scottish Ballet
Zdenek Konvalina  Czech Republic Brno Conservatory 2011 Lead Principal Houston Ballet
National Ballet of Canada
Fernanda Oliveira  Brazil Centro de Dança, Rio de Janeiro
Royal Ballet School
2000 Lead Principal Chilean National Ballet
Tamara Rojo  Spain Victor Ullate School of Dance

Bachelor Degree and Master in performing arts from Rey Juan Carlos University

2012 Lead Principal and Artistic Director Royal Ballet

English National Ballet

Erina Takahashi  Japan Kushiro Ballet Academy
English National Ballet School
1996 Lead Principal


Name Nationality Training Joined ENB Rank Other Companies
Begoña Cao  United Kingdom Arts Educational School
Royal Ballet School
1997 Principal
Yat-Sen Chang  Cuba Cuban National Ballet School 1993[6] Principal Cuban National Ballet
Jeune Ballet de France
Sarah McIlroy  United Kingdom Royal Ballet School 1992 Principal
Aroniel Vargas  Cuba Cuban National Ballet School
Laura Alonso & Ivan Montreal
2004 Principal Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Bridgett Zehr  United States Sarasota Ballet School
Harid Conservatory
2011 Principal Houston Ballet
National Ballet of Canada

Guest artists[edit]

As of May 2014, guest artists include Carlos Acosta, Vadim Muntagirov, Friedemann Vogel, and Alban Lendorf.[5]

Character artists[edit]

  • Jane Haworth

First soloists[edit]


Junior soloists[edit]

First artists[edit]

Notable Productions[edit]

Le Corsaire[edit]

Alina Cojocaru and Vadim Muntagirov in the roles of Medora and Conrad of Le Corsaire produced by the English National Ballet

In 2013, ENB became the first British company to perform the ballet Le Corsaire as a complete work. The production will tour the UK, with performances in Milton Keynes, Southampton, Oxford, Bristol, London and Manchester. The company will also perform the ballet at the Teatros del Canal in Madrid in 2014. Widely considered one of the great classic ballets, Le Corsaire was originally created by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev, to a selection of music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Ricardo Drigo and Prince Oldenbourg. The libretto for the ballet was written by Jules-Henri de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier, based on Lord Byron's 1814 poem The Corsaire.

Lest We Forget[edit]

A mixed bill of ballets created to honour the 100th anniversary of World War I. The production consists of George Williamson's staging of The Firebird and new works created by the award winning British choreographers Akram Khan, Russell Maliphant and Liam Scarlett. This production is the first collaboration between Khan, Maliphant and a classical ballet company.

Simone Clarke[edit]

In 2006/7, English National Ballet was the focus of the British media after The Guardian newspaper reported on 21 December 2006 that Principal dancer Simone Clarke was a member of the far-right British National Party.[9] Following the report, a number of other stories appeared in the press and on television and Clarke became known as the "BNP Ballerina".[10]

The British National Party is a small political party in the United Kingdom that is often criticised for promoting extremist and racist policies. Clarke admitted being a member of the BNP, stating that her reason was to oppose mass immigration in Britain. She voiced her belief that the BNP was the only political party willing to take a stand against immigration, stating that she would continue to be a member of the party.[11] Following a number of stories in the press and a protest at the Coliseum by anti-racism protesters, Clarke refused to comment further on the issue and English National Ballet denied calls to terminate her employment, releasing the following statement:

"English National Ballet does not comment on political affiliations of any of its employees nor any other aspects of their personal lives. Any personal view expressed by one of our employees should not be considered as endorsed by the company. English National Ballet is an equal opportunities employer and prides itself in the ethnic diversity of all its employees."

Clarke has a daughter with her former partner Yat-Sen Chang, who is currently a Principal with English National Ballet and is of Chinese-Cuban origin. She retired from professional dance in 2007 and opened her own school.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "English National Ballet at Concert for Diana". BBC. 1 July 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  2. ^ "Angelina's Star Performance". 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Brown, Mark (13 April 2012). "Tamara Rojo to be artistic director of English National Ballet". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ "English National Ballet announces Tamara Rojo as its new Artistic Director". Ballet News. 13 April 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Dancers". English National Ballet. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d e joined ENB as principal dancer
  7. ^ ""Cupcakes & Conversation" with Daria Klimentová, senior principal". Ballet News. 28 July 2009. 
  8. ^ "Valentine’s Day photo shoot with Daria Klimentová & Vadim Muntagirov". Ballet News. 14 February 2011. 
  9. ^ Ian Cobain (27 December 2006). "Exclusive: inside the secret and sinister world of the BNP". London: Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "'BNP Ballerina' returns to the stage". BBC News. 12 January 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Storm grows over 'BNP Ballerina'". BBC News. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2011. 

External links[edit]