Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, will create a new version of the classic 19th-century ballet, Raymonda, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa. The Finnish premiere of the co-production between English National Ballet and the Finnish National Ballet will take place on 26 November 2021, following the world premiere of Rojo’s version in Manchester, UK on 14 October 2020.
The original Raymonda, which had its world premiere in 1898, was the Mariinsky Theatre choreographer Petipa’s final masterpiece. Its title character, a medieval noblewoman, has to choose between the safe and noble crusader Jean de Brienne and the mysterious Saracen knight Abderahman.
Rojo brings the story into the setting of the Crimean War in the 1850s, drawing inspiration from the ground-breaking spirit and work of the women supporting the war effort. In homage to the pioneering nurse, Florence Nightingale, in her bicentennial year, Raymonda is recast as a young woman with a calling to become a nurse.
“It’s part of my vision to look at classics with fresh eyes, to make them relevant, find new contexts, amplify new voices and ultimately evolve the art form. Raymonda is a beautiful ballet – extraordinary music, exquisite and intricate choreography – with a female lead who I felt deserved more of a voice, more agency in her own story,” Rojo says. ”Working with my incredible creative team, I am setting Raymonda in a new context and adapting the narrative to bring something unique, relevant and inspiring to our audiences. I have truly enjoyed delving into the creative process of adapting and choreographing a large-scale ballet and have been inspired by Florence Nightingale’s drive and passion.”
Rojo brings together a stellar production team for Raymonda with costume and set design by Antony McDonald, lighting design by Mark Henderson, dramaturgy by Lucinda Coxon, character dances by Vadim Sirotin, and choreology research and advice on the Sergeyev notation by Douglas Fullington. Alexander Glazunov’s original score has been arranged by Gavin Sutherland.
Tamara Rojo is one of the most internationally successful ballet dancers of the 21st century. She completed her dance education in Madrid. After winning the Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance Competition, she was invited to join the Scottish Ballet as a visiting principal dancer. Along with her tenures as a Principal at English National Ballet since 1997 and the Royal Ballet since 2000, she has visited a wide variety of ballet companies around the world. At the Finnish National Ballet, she performed in Manon in 2011 and in a ballet gala in 2014. Rojo was appointed Artistic Director of English National Ballet in 2012. She combines this role with her dancing career, performing as Lead Principal with the Company. Raymonda is Rojo’s first foray into choreography and direction.