Tamara Rojo

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Tamara Rojo
Tamara Rojo1.jpg
Born (1974-05-17) 17 May 1974 (age 44)
Alma materRey Juan Carlos University
OccupationBallet dancer
TitleArtistic director, English National Ballet

Tamara Rojo CBE (born 17 May 1974) is a Spanish ballet dancer. She is the artistic director of the English National Ballet, as well as a lead principal dancer. She was previously a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet.

Early life and training[edit]

Rojo was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Spanish parents who moved back to Spain when she was four months old.

Rojo started taking local dance classes at the age of 5 in Spain. By the time she reached age 11, Rojo became a full-time student at the Madrid Royal Conservatory of Dance Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma, studying under Victor Ullate and Karemia Moreno. Though her parents were thrilled at her talent, they insisted that Rojo also complete an academic education. Therefore, after studio rehearsals every day, Rojo would attend evening classes. When Rojo was 16, she graduated from the Conservatory and had only two more years until her completion of regular school studies.

Rojo has a PhD in performing arts and D.A. Magna Cum Laude from the King Juan Carlos University of Madrid [2]


Rojo began her professional career as a dancer with the Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid, under the direction of Victor Ullate. In 1994, she became notable after winning the Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance competition and a Special Jury Award given by Natalia Makarova, Vladimir Vassiliev, and Galina Samsova, a judging panel consisting of some of the most outstanding figures of the ballet world.

Early career in Britain[edit]

In 1996, Rojo was invited by Galina Samsova to join the Scottish National Ballet. While there, she performed the principal roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, and Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. In 1997, she joined the English National Ballet, and danced principal roles in Swan Lake, Paquita, Coppelia, ad Glen Tetley's The Sphinx and Voluntaries. Derek Deane, Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, created the roles of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Clara in The Nutcracker for her. Rojo was named "Dance Revelation of the Year" in 1997 after her performance as Clara, breaking attendance records at the London Coliseum.[citation needed]

Royal Ballet[edit]

After receiving praise from both critics and audience, Rojo was officially invited to become a principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in 2000; she has been working with the company extensively ever since.[3] After joining The Royal Ballet, she took on principal roles in Dowell’s Swan Lake, Makarova’s The Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere, Mason's The Sleeping Beauty, Nureyev's Don Quixote, and Wright's The Nutcracker. She has performed many roles in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's works, recreated for her by Deborah MacMillan, including the title roles in Isadora, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, Mary Vetsera in Mayerling, The Woman in Song of the Earth, The Chosen One in Rite of Spring, Masha & Olga in Winter Dreams, Requiem, My Brother My Sisters, and Danses Concertantes. In addition, her repertoire includes Cinderella, Ondine, Marguerite and Armand, Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan, Homage to the Queen and A Wedding Bouquet. She danced in the world premiere of Snow White, created for her by choreographer Richardo Cue.

Major injuries[edit]

In 2000 Rojo approached Royal Ballet director Anthony Dowell, having researched and decided that this company was one she would flourish with. "I'd have taken a corps de ballet contract, anything, but there wasn't one," she told Jann Parry, who was at that time the Observer's dance critic. Later that year, though, a principal contract came up and Rojo was recommended. Then later that year Rojo was asked to replace an injured Darcey Bussell in Giselle. Ignoring her own sprained ankle and the short notice, she learned the role in two weeks and went on to receive rave reviews[4] In 2002, while dancing as Clara in the Nutcracker, Rojo started shaking on stage. After the show, she was sent to a private hospital where they determined that her appendix had burst and she stayed there to heal for 6 weeks. However, two weeks later she was back dancing and she was forced to go to a hospital again. Rojo admitted that it was “completely wrong [to continue dancing while injured or ill] and I do not feel that anyone should do this. It really is not worth it.”[5] In 2003, while preparing for the Royal Ballet’s Australian tour, Rojo was once again plagued with another setback when she suffered an infected bunion that became so bad that her foot swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Doctors determined that Rojo needed to have it drained and to have surgery on her foot – a potentially career-ending operation. Nevertheless, she knew that this operation was a necessary step to take if she were ever to walk, let alone dance, again. A mere twenty-four hours after her operation, an Ambassador from Spain called to inform her that she had been honoured with an award and needed to be in Cadiz the next week. The King of Spain presented her with the Royal Gold Medal of Fine Arts, a prestigious honour that few can say they have achieved. Months later, and after countless hours of rehabilitation, she returned to dancing and said that the injury changed her perspective on life, her body, and dance. She felt that she valued each and every day more and learned that nothing in life should be taken for granted.[6]

After her experience in overcoming injuries and inconveniences such as bunions, Tamara Rojo undertook the commercialization in 2017 of a stretching device for ballet pointe shoes; The Pointe Shoe Anti-Bunion Stretcher by Tamara Rojo.

English National Ballet[edit]

Rojo as Giselle full length ballet choreographed by Akram Khan

In April 2012 it was announced that Rojo would become the artistic director of English National Ballet, replacing Wayne Eagling, whose departure from the role had been announced in February.[7] Tamara Rojo;The Woman Who Has Transformed English National Ballet By Roslyn Sulcasnov. Nov. 18, 2016.

Under the direction of Rojo, the English National Ballet was, for the first time in history, invited to dance from 21 to 25 June 2016 at the Paris Opera Palais Garnier, the most famous ballets in its repertoire: Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev's version of Le Corsaire in a revival by Anna-Marie Holmes.[citation needed]

List of ballets/roles performed[edit]

The following is a list of repertoire of Tamara Rojo's performance in various ballet company.

Role Choreographer Company
Les Sylphides Michel Fokine B.B.Com.Madrid, Royal Ballet
Clara (Nutcracker) Wayne Eagling English National Ballet
Ondine Cranko Royal Ballet
Theme and Variations G. Balanchine B.C.Madrid-Ullate, Royal Ballet
Allegro Brillante G. Balanchine B.Com.Madrid-Ullate
Grossa Fuga Hans Van Manen B.Com.Madrid-Ullate
In the Future Glen Tetley B.Com.Madrid-Ullate
Arraigo Victor Ullate B.Com.Madrid-Ullate
Simum Victor Ullate B.Com.Madrid-Ullate
Three Cornered Hat Léonide/Massine Bal.Opera de Nice
Le Beau Danube Léonide Massine Bal.Opera de Nice
Rite of Spring Kenneth MacMillan E.N.B., Royal Ballet
Clara (Nutcracker) Derek Deane English Nat. Ballet
Paquita Petipa English Nat. Ballet
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) Derek Deane English Nat. Ballet
Cinderella Ben Stevenson English Nat. Ballet
Three Preludes Hans Van Manen English Nat. Ballet
Nascita di Orfeo Luca Veggetti E. P. Arena de Verona
Odette/Odile (Swan Lake) Deane/Makarova/M.Mason/Nureyev Kirov Ballet
Blancanieves Ricardo Cue Music: E. Aragón – Teatro Arriaga
Odette/Odile (Swan Lake) Petipa - Ivanov ENB/Scottish Ballet
Consolations & Liebestraum Christopher Bruce ROH2
Tatiana (Onegin) John Cranko Royal Ballet
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Isadora Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Mary Vetsera (Mayerling) Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Manon Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Song of the Earth Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Requiem Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Winter Dreams Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
My Brother, My Sisters Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet
Symphony in C Balanchine Royal Ballet
Jewels Balanchine Royal Ballet
Tzigane Balanchine Royal Ballet
Dances at a Gathering Jerome Robbins Royal Ballet
Rushes Wayne McGregor Royal Ballet
Chroma Wayne McGregor Royal Ballet
Kitri (Don Quixote) Vladimir Vasiliev Ballet Alla Escala
Sugar Plum Fairy (Nutcracker) Peter Wright Royal Ballet, E.N.B.
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) Cranko Scottish Ballet
La Sylphide Bournonville/Sorella Englund J.Covalli/J.Perrot Scottish Ballet, Royal Ballet
Giselle Petipa /Deane/A. Dowell/ Royal Ballet, Ullate,B.N.Cuba
Kitri (Don Quixote) D. Deane/Petipa/Ashton/Nureyev Royal, ENB, Tokyo Ballet
Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty) Kenneth MacMillan R.B & English National Ballet
Medora (Le Corsaire) A-M Holmes after Petipa and Sergeyev English National Ballet


  • 2016 Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE.
  • 2013 Spanish-British Relationships of II Fundación Banco Santander Prize.
  • 2012 The Gold Medal for Fine Arts 2012 of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
  • 2011 Encomienda de número de Isabel la Católica.
  • 2010 Laurence Olivier “Best New Dance Production” award for her collaboration with choreographer Kim Brandstrup in “Goldberg: The Brandstrup-Rojo Project.”
  • 2008 Prix Benois de la Danse
  • 2008 Comunidad de Madrid’s International Medal of the Arts
  • 2007 City of Madrid’s Interpretation Award
  • 2005 Premio Principe de Asturias a las Artes
  • 2004 Premio Positano "Leonid Massine"
  • 2002 Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes - Consejo de Ministros del Reino de España.
  • 2002 Gold Medal of Fine Arts from King Juan Carlos
  • 2002 London's Critic's Circle Dance Awards
  • 2001 Sherringtons Awards Best Female Dancer of the Year
  • 2000 Barclays Theatre Awards: Outstanding Achievement in Dance
  • 1996 First Price of Italian Critics as Best Dancer of the Year
  • 1994 Grand Prix Femme et Medaille Vermeille de la Ville de Paris (à l'unanimité) - Concour International de Danse de Paris

Rojo was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to ballet.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Rojo lives in Bloomsbury, London.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Tamara Rojo". Front Row. 23 April 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. ^ Levene, Louise (15 May 2011). "Called to the barre: Tamara Rojo interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  3. ^ Mackrell, Judith (25 November 2009). "Tamara Rojo's leap of faith" – via The Guardian.
  4. ^ Jennings, Luke.The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk, 2010.
  5. ^ Wainwright,Steven. Health Journal. Sage Publications, 2005, p.57.
  6. ^ Fox, Sue.The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk, 2003.
  7. ^ Brown, Markq. "Tamara Rojo to be artistic director of English National Ballet". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  8. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N26.
  9. ^ "My perfect weekend: Tamara Rojo, artistic director and principal dancer, English National Ballet".
  10. ^ "Tamara Rojo on English National Ballet's new First World War show,". 18 March 2014.


  • Fox, Sue. "The Times". The Sunday Times, 2003.
  • Jennings, Luke. "The Observer" 2010
  • Marriott, Bruce. "Ballet.Co" 1998
  • Mackrell,Judith. The Guardian UK:Tamara Rojo's leap of faith. 2005
  • Wainwright,Steven. Health Journal. Sage Publications, 2005, p. 57.
  • Grainger, Lisa. Tamara Rojo’s Travelling Life. The Telegraph. 2010.

External links[edit]