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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.

Tamara Rojo

Tamara Rojo1.jpg
Born (1974-05-17) 17 May 1974 (age 45)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
ResidenceBloomsbury, London, England
Alma materRey Juan Carlos University
OccupationBallet dancer
TitleArtistic director, English National Ballet


Early life and trainingEdit

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 five in Spain. At the age of 11, she became a full-time student at the Madrid Royal Conservatory of Dance Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma, studying under Víctor Ullate and Karemia Moreno. Though her parents were thrilled at her talent, they insisted that Rojo also complete an academic education so she would attend evening classes after studio rehearsals. She graduated from the Conservatory at 16, and completed her regular school studies over the next two years.

She went on to attain Bachelor of Dance and Master of Scenic Arts degrees and ultimately achieved a PhD in performing arts, becoming D.A. Magna Cum Laude from the King Juan Carlos University.[2][3][4]


Rojo began her professional career in 1991 with the Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid, under the direction of Victor Ullate. In 1994, she won the Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance competition plus a Special Jury Award given by Natalia Makarova, Vladimir Vasiliev, and Galina Samsova, a panel of some of the most outstanding figures of the ballet world.[5]

Early career in BritainEdit

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, the Artistic Director of the English National Ballet, Derek Deane asked her to join the company – he created the role of Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" for her; and the role of Clara in "The Nutcracker" for which The Times named her "Dance Revelation of the Year" in 1997. She also danced principal roles in Swan Lake, Paquita, Coppelia, and Glen Tetley's The Sphinx.[6]

Royal BalletEdit

Rojo approached Royal Ballet director Anthony Dowell in 2000 with a view to joining the company and was invited to become a principal dancer once a contract became available the same year.

Over the next 12 years, she performed the major roles in most of the company's repertoire, including the ballets of Kenneth MacMillan and Frederick Ashton, Dowell's Swan Lake, Makarova's La Bayadere, Rudolph Nureyev's Don Quixote, and Peter Wright 's The Nutcracker. She danced in the world premiere of Snow White, created for her by choreographer Richardo Cue. The title role in Isadora was recreated for her by MacMillan's widow, the artist and set designer Deborah MacMillan, who is the custodian of his ballets.

Major injuriesEdit

In 2000, 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.[7] In 2002, while dancing as Clara in the Nutcracker, Rojo started shaking while on stage. After the show, she was sent to a private hospital where she was diagnosed with a perforated her appendix had burst – she was advised to take 6 weeks off, but went back to dancing after only two, and had to attend 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.” [8]

In 2003, while preparing for the Royal Ballet's Australian tour, Rojo suffered an infected bunion that became so bad that her foot swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Doctors recommended surgery on her foot – a potentially career-ending operation. 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.[9]

After her experience with the serious infection, she and her father developed a device to stretch pointe shoes, to reduce pressure on bunions, and formed a company in 2017 to market it.[10]

English National BalletEdit

Rojo as Giselle in 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.[11]

Under her direction the English National Ballet, for the first time in history, was 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.[12]

In 2014, she presented a documentary entitled "Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake" for the BBC [13] and she followed up with "Giselle: Belle of the Ballet" in 2017, which included the history of the both the original production and the new ballet created for the ENB by Akram Khan.[14] She had commissioned Khan to re-imagine the story: Khan went on to win the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2017 for Best Classical Choreography and Alina Cojocaru won Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) as Giselle.,[15] and the company as a whole won an Olivier Award for Outstanding achievement in dance.[16]

List of ballets/roles performedEdit

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 Frederick Ashton 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 English National Ballet, Royal Ballet
Clara (Nutcracker) Derek Deane English National Ballet
Paquita Petipa English National Ballet
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) Derek Deane English National Ballet
Cinderella Ben Stevenson English National Ballet
Three Preludes Hans Van Manen English National 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 English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet
Consolations & Liebestraum Christopher Bruce ROH2
Tatiana (Onegin) John Cranko Royal Ballet
Cinderella Frederic Ashton Royal Ballet
Marguerite and Armand Frederic Ashton 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 Tokyo Ballet
Sugar Plum Fairy (Nutcracker) Peter Wright Royal Ballet
Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) John Cranko Scottish Ballet
La Sylphide Bournonville/Sorella Englund J.Covalli/J.Perrot Scottish Ballet, Royal Ballet
Giselle Petipa Royal Ballet, Ullate,B.N.Cuba
Kitri (Don Quixote) Petipa/Nureyev Royal Ballet, Ballet alla Scala
Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty) Petipa/Wright Birmingham Royal Ballet
Medora (Le Corsaire) A-M Holmes after Petipa and Sergeyev English National Ballet


  • 2016 Commander of the Order of the British Empire CBE for services to ballet.[17]
  • 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.”[18]
  • 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

Personal lifeEdit

Rojo lives in Bloomsbury, London.[19][20]


  1. ^ "Tamara Rojo". Front Row. 23 April 2013. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Tamara Rojo, Director Of The English National Ballet, Received Doctorate 'Cum Laude'". Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Tamara Rojo: interview". Time Out. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  4. ^ "The Inventory: Tamara Rojo". Financial Times. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Tamara Rojo in "Arrayan Daraxa" (1994)". Pointe Magazine.
  6. ^ "Tamara Rojo, ENB Principal (1998)". archive.
  7. ^ "Slaves to the rhythm". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Wainwright, Steven P.; Williams, Clare; Turner, Bryan S. (24 July 2016). "Fractured identities: injury and the balletic body". Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 9 (1): 49–66. doi:10.1177/1363459305048097.
  9. ^ "Best of Times, Worst of Times: Tamara Rojo". The Times.
  10. ^ "The Pointe Shoe Anti-Bunion Stretcher by Tamara Rojo".
  11. ^ "Tamara Rojo to be artistic director of English National Ballet". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  12. ^ "English National Ballet at Palais Garnier". Opéra national de Paris.
  13. ^ "Good Swan, Bad Swan". IMDB.
  14. ^ "Giselle: Belle of the Ballet". IMDB.
  15. ^ "Two prizes for Akram Khan's Giselle and musical theatre in the 2017 National Dance Awards". Seeing Dance.
  16. ^ "Olivier Awards 2017: Winners in full". BBC News.
  17. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N26.
  18. ^ "Olivier Awards 2010". Official London Theatre.
  19. ^ "My perfect weekend: Tamara Rojo, artistic director and principal dancer, English National Ballet".
  20. ^ "Tamara Rojo on English National Ballet's new First World War show,". 18 March 2014.

External linksEdit