Tamara Rojo CBE (born 17 May 1974) is a Spanish ballet dancer. She is English National Ballet's artistic director and a lead principal dancer with the company. She was previously a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet.
Tamara Rojo CBE (Montreal, Canadá, 17 de mayo de 1974) es una bailarina y directora de ballet española. En la actualidad es directora artística del English National Ballet en Londres. Anteriormente fue bailarina principal de The Royal Ballet. En enero de 2016 Tamara Rojo se doctoró ‘cum laude’ en la URJC.
Tamara Rojo was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Spanish parents who returned with her to Spain when she was 4 months old. At the age of 5 she began dance classes in Madrid and became a full-time student age 11 at Madrid's Royal Professional Conservatory of Dance.
Though her parents were pleased at her developing balletic talent, they insisted Rojo also complete an academic education through evening classes she could attend after studio rehearsals. Having graduated from the Conservatory at 16, she completed her secondary studies over the next two years. She went on to complete further degrees including a bachelor of dance, master of scenic arts and a PhD in performing arts, becoming DA magna cum laude in 2016 from King Juan Carlos University.
Tamara Rojo began her professional career in 1991 with the Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid, under the direction of Víctor Ullate. In 1994, she won Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance competition, together with a Special Jury Award from a panel including Natalia Makarova, Galina Samsova and Vladimir Vasiliev, three outstanding figures in the ballet world at that time.
In 1996 Galina Samsova, artistic director of Scottish Ballet, invited Rojo to join the company. There she performed principal roles in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, La Sylphide and Cranko's Romeo and Juliet. Derek Deane, then English National Ballet artistic director, asked her to join ENB the following year. For her he created the roles of Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" and Clara in "The Nutcracker" for which The Times named Rojo "Dance Revelation of the Year" in 1997. She also danced principal roles in Swan Lake, Paquita, Coppelia and Glen Tetley's The Sphinx.
Rojo approached Royal Ballet director Anthony Dowell in 2000 with a view to joining the company. Over the next 12 years, she performed major roles in most of the company's repertoire including ballets choreographed by 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 Ricardo Cué. The title role in Isadora was recreated for her by MacMillan's widow, the artist and set designer Deborah MacMillan, custodian of the late choreographer's ballets.
In 2000, Rojo was asked at short notice to replace the injured Royal Ballet principal Darcey Bussell in the title role in Giselle. Ignoring her own sprained ankle, Rojo learned the role in a fortnight and went on to receive rave reviews. In 2002, while dancing Clara in Nutcracker, Rojo began to tremble on stage. Sent to a private hospital after the performance, she learned her appendix had burst and was told to take six weeks off. However, she resumed dancing after only two, relapsed and returned to hospital. Rojo admitted some years later it was "completely wrong and I do not feel that anyone should do this. It really is not worth it."
In 2003, while preparing for the Royal Ballet's Australian tour, Rojo suffered an infected bunion so serious that her foot swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Doctors recommended surgery on her foot, a potentially career-ending operation. Months later, after countless hours of rehabilitation, she resumed dancing and said 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.
After this experience, she and her father developed a device to stretch pointe shoes in order to reduce pressure on bunions, and formed a company in 2017 to market it.
In April 2012 it was announced that Rojo would become the artistic director of English National Ballet.
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.
In 2014, she presented a documentary entitled Good Swan, Bad Swan: Dancing Swan Lake for the BBC 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. 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, and the company as a whole won an Olivier Award for Outstanding achievement in dance.
Rojo is set to make her choreographic debut with a Florence Nightingale-inspired version of Raymonda, set during the Crimean War. It is scheduled to premiere in January 2021, but the pandemic has postponed it.
Nació en la ciudad canadiense de Montreal donde residían sus padres, ambos de nacionalidad española. Cuando Tamara cumplió cuatro meses se trasladaron a España. Se inició en el Centro de Danza Víctor Ullate (1983-1991), completando su formación con David Howard y Renatto Paroni. Tras formar parte de la Compañía de Ullate (1991-1996), Galina Samsova la invitó a bailar en el Scottish Ballet (1996-1997). Con esta compañía interpretó, entre otras obras, El lago de los cisnes, El Cascanueces, Romeo y Julieta y La sylphide. Doctora con sobresaliente ‘cum laude’ en el Instituto Superior de Danza Alicia Alonso de la Universidad Rey Juan Carlos con la tesis: Perfil Psicológico de un Bailarín de alto nivel. Rasgos vocacionales del bailarín profesional. Anteriormente obtuvo el Máster en Artes Escénicas por la URJC.
Con 25 años fue bailarina principal en el English National Ballet (Ballet Nacional de Inglaterra) (1997-2000), categoría con la que se incorporó al The Royal Ballet de Londres, invitada por Anthony Dowell en julio de 2000.
Ha actuado, como artista invitada, entre otras compañías de ballet, con: el Ballet Mariinski, el ballet del Teatro de La Scala de Milán, el Tokyo Ballet, el ballet del Teatro Mijáilovski de San Petersbugo, el Ballet de la Ópera de Niza, el Arena de Verona, el Ballet Nacional de Cuba y el Ballet de la Ópera de Berlín y ha participado en numerosas galas de ámbito internacional.
Directora del English National Ballet a partir de septiembre de 2012, se comprometió a mantener los clásicos relevantes y renovados, lo que le encaminó a ofrecer al galardonado coreógrafo Akram Khan el desafío creativo de crear una nueva versión del ballet clásico Giselle. Bajo la dirección de Tamara Rojo, el English National Ballet fue invitado, por primera vez en la historia, a bailar del 21 al 25 de junio de 2016 en la Ópera de París Palais Garnier: Le Corsaire, de Marius Petipa y Konstantín Serguéiev, en la renovada versión de Anna-Marie Holmes.
En 2016 Rojo invitó al coreógrafo Akram Khan a recrear una nueva versión del icónico ballet romántico Giselle resultando un destacado éxito.
La pandemia de la COVID-19 retrasó el estreno de una renovada versión coreografiada por Tamara Rojo del ballet clásico Raymonda, inspirado en el espíritu revolucionario de la enfermera Florence Nighting para situar la escena en la Guerra de Crimea en 1854.