English National Ballet moves to video-on-demand for the autumn

David Mead

Having cancelled or postponed all its originally planned performances for Autumn 2020, English National Ballet has announced that it will be instead moving entirely online with a new video-on-demand service.

A new digital season of short works for camera will include films choreographed by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Yuri Possokhov, Arielle Smith and ENB Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur. This will be the first time Cherkaoui and Smith have created work for ENB’s main Company, and the first time Possokhov has created work for a UK Company.

To be shown in a series of mixed bills in November and December 2020, these new works will be available to rent via ENB at Home.

Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet says, “It is testament to the talent of our dancers and the spirit and reputation of our Company that we have such incredible choreographers working with us on our digital season. I’m thrilled that not only will we have new pieces by renowned choreographers to share with our audiences, but that even in these challenging times we are also continuing to support young talent too. I can’t wait to see what they create.”

Following the cancellation of performances at Southbank Centre, ENB will now perform and stream its 11th annual Emerging Dancer competition from its own production studio at London City Island. This year’s finalists Ivana Bueno, Carolyne Galvao, Miguel Angel Maidana, Victor Prigent, Emily Suzuki and William Yamada will perform a classical pas de deux followed by contemporary pieces choreographed by Jeffrey Cirio, Stina Quagebeur and Mthuthuzeli November. Last year’s winners Julia Conway and Rhys Antoni Yeomans will also dance a new creation by Arielle Smith.

Scheduled for September 22, audiences around the world will be able to pay to watch the live streamed Emerging Dancer for a fee of £5, and will also be invited to cast their People’s Choice votes by text.

The new ENB at Home on demand platform will not only host filmed performances of new works and events, but will also be a home for additional on-demand ballet content beyond the stage, such as performances including Le Corsaire and Akram Khan’s Giselle, both of which were recorded specifically for screen, and selections from the archives following the success of English National Ballet’s recent Wednesday Watch Parties.

The ENB at Home platform will also include a subscription-based class programme of ballet-based exercise. Opting for either a monthly or annual subscription, users will gain access to over 100 hours of material including ballet classes, yoga, and fitness sessions.

Akram Khan’s Creature will now premiere in September 2021 at Sadler’s Wells, while dates for Rojo’s new Raymonda are yet to be announced.

Plans for English National Ballet’s Winter Season 2020/2021 will be confirmed in due course. With government guidance now allowing indoor performances with socially distanced audiences, the company is exploring options with partner venues.

Rojo comments, “Our artform is vital to the millions of people whose lives are enriched by the performing arts. No matter how difficult the situation, I truly believe ballet can bring people together and be a part of the solution to this crisis. Whilst it is with great sadness that we have had to delay some of our planned Season, I’m so pleased that through our new digital season and ENB at Home service we have found a way to continue to create, challenge, and inspire our audiences and, we hope, go some way in boosting the morale of the country.”

Patrick Harrison, ENB executive director gave some details of the hit the company has taken from the coronavirus crisis. He explains that, with over two-thirds of income lost, the continued closure of the theatres, cancellations of tours, and the ongoing uncertainty about when full performance and commercial activity might return, means that the organisation has had to scale back to protect it for the longer term.

Good news is that ENB has been successful in its application for a grant from the Arts Council of England’s Emergency Fund, which secures its immediate survival.


ENB also announces the following promotions which have been made within the Company:

Gabriele Francesco Frola to Lead Principal.
Daniel McCormick to Soloist.
Precious Adams, Julia Conway, Anjuli Hudson and Erik Woolhouse to Junior Soloist.
Emily Suzuki to 8th Year Artist of the Company.
Matthew Astley, Noam Durand, Rhys Antoni Yeomans, Victor Prigent and Miguel Angel Maidana to 6th Year Artist of the Company.
Carolyne Galvao and Rentaro Nakaaki to 5th Year Artist of the Company.

…and leavers:

Francisco Bosch, 8th Year Artist (after 17 years with the Company)
Fernando Bufala, First Soloist (7 years)
Barry Drummond, First Artist (10 years)
Shevelle Dynott, 8th Year Artist (15 years)
James Forbat, First Soloist (15 years)
Daniel Kraus, Junior Soloist (16 years)
Adela Ramirez, First Soloist (22 years)
Maria Jose Sales, 8th Year Artist (6 years)
Jia Zhang, First Artist (11 years)

Earlier this year, ENB also said goodbye to First Soloist Crystal Costa and 8th Year Artist Joshua McSherry-Gray after 12 and 11 years with the company respectively. Jane Haworth, who joined as a dancer in 1983 and then became Character Artist and Artistic Coordinator, retired in June. Artist of the Company Maeve Nolan also leaves at the end of the current season.

Lead Principal Jurgita Dronina, who previously split her time between ENB and National Ballet of Canada, will not return to ENB next season.