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English National Ballet and English National Ballet School announce plans for a new joint home in East London

CGI of English National Ballet's planned building at London City Island.© ENB. (Click image for larger version)
CGI of English National Ballet’s planned building at London City Island.
© ENB. (Click image for larger version)

Press Release – 22 May 2015

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School announce plans for a new joint home

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School today announce plans for a new joint home in East London. The move will bring under one roof one of the world’s leading ballet companies with a world renowned ballet school, and will create a centre that combines state-of-the-art training facilities, teaching and rehearsal studios alongside a unique production space unrivalled in the capital.

The joint home will be based at London City Island E14, a new neighbourhood from Eco World Ballymore. The development is a short distance from Canning Town and adjoins Trinity Buoy Wharf, which is home to an emerging creative and arts cluster. The companies seek to move into the new premises in Autumn 2018.

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School said; “I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve in the last few years, and I now want to push the Company to the forefront of excellence and innovation by developing top talent, collaborating with the best artists at every stage of the artistic process, and creating an environment to produce ground-breaking and lasting new work that will inspire and excite audiences.

Tamara Rojo at London City Island.© Perry Curties. (Click image for larger version)
Tamara Rojo at London City Island.
© Perry Curties. (Click image for larger version)

“I want to create a new space that allows us to produce and rehearse amazing work. Not only that, I want a building that will be available for other artistic organisations to rehearse too, whether they are staging opera, musicals or theatre. I want the space to echo to the sound of creative Britain.”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London commented; “The planned relocation of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School to East London is an exciting development for one of the finest dance companies and schools in the world. Having bespoke, state-of-the-art facilities will strengthen this internationally renowned company’s ability to create new work and to rehearse, as well as allowing its talent development and creative learning plans to flourish. The move will also open up new opportunities for local collaborations and further increase East London’s growing status as an important cultural centre.”

The new building is being designed by leading architects Glenn Howells Architects, and will include:

  • A theatre-sized studio space for the development and rehearsal of productions and creation of new commissions;
    • Eight large studios for rehearsals and teaching;
    • Training facilities including gyms, pilates and a modern rehabilitation centre;
    • Digital infrastructure which will allow both organisations to capture and share work and engage with audiences around the UK and the rest of the world;
    • Dedicated music room for the English National Ballet Philharmonic
    • Open spaces that will give the public access to English National Ballet and English National Ballet School’s archives, and encourage engagement with local communities.

The centrepiece of the new facility is a rehearsal and development space, which includes a ‘fly tower’, needed for dress rehearsals with full sets and orchestra. This requires a 600sq meter wide, 23 meter high space. The rehearsal space has been designed so it can be used for any theatre production, not only dance.

English National Ballet is currently based at Jay Mews in Kensington operating out of a 19th century building originally designed for student housing, with only two rehearsal studios and with small offices arranged over multiple floors. English National Ballet School inhabits part of the listed Carlyle building in Fulham where it began with 12 students working across two studios and is now training upwards of 75 students per year with very little additional space.

Caroline Thomson, Executive Director of English National Ballet said; “This move means we will have a new home with the kind of facilities one would expect from a world-class company, ensuring we can continue to deliver the kind of artistic achievements we have become synonymous with. I hope that our company will be inspired by the energy of the students from English National Ballet School, and the school will be inspired by the artistic excellence of our Company.”

Samira Saidi, Director of Dance at English National Ballet School said; “We are really pleased to be planning for a new home with English National Ballet. This will give our students not only the very best in training facilities, but the opportunity to live alongside and be inspired by the dancers of our Company.”

Delia Barker, Co-Director of English National Ballet School added; “It has been our ambition to make English National Ballet School the first choice for the next generation of international ballet dancers. This new dance hub will make us more competitive in attracting exceptional talent, both from home and abroad.”

Justin Bickle, Chairman of English National Ballet and English National Ballet School Board member, said: “Over the past two and a half years under the artistic and executive leadership of Tamara Rojo and Caroline Thomson, English National Ballet has been transformed into an innovative and outward looking touring ballet company, combining the best of the classics and ground-breaking work with new artistic partners. The Company is now ready to take the next logical step which is to move with English National Ballet School to a new long term home, with world class facilities fit for the dancers, students and staff. The creation of a tailor-made facility through our partnership with Eco World Ballymore will allow English National Ballet to cement its place as a real powerhouse in the dance world.”

Steve Sacks Chairman of English National Ballet School and Board member of English National Ballet, added; “This is an incredibly exciting step for the English National Ballet School. In addition to giving us a wonderful, new purpose-built facility, it gives our students the opportunity to work even more closely on a day-to-day basis with the Company.”

With generous support from Eco World Ballymore, who have committed to delivering the shell and core of the building, English National Ballet and English National Ballet School will jointly fundraise for the costs of fitting out the facility.

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, Chairman of Eco World Ballymore said, “One of the things which makes London such a great city to live in is its celebration of arts and culture. Apart from its clear economic and societal benefits, the arts enable us to reflect creatively on the past, expand our minds and uplift our imaginations to dream about the future. We are therefore delighted to welcome English National Ballet to London City Island. Their presence will add immeasurably to the unique living experience we seek to create for our customers, not just here but at each and every one of our developments.”

Sean Mulryan, Chairman and Group CEO of Ballymore Group commented, “This partnership demonstrates our deep commitment to establishing City Island as one of the most exciting new destinations in London and we are honoured that English National Ballet, a truly inspiring artistic institution, has decided to make its new permanent home there. Recognition for City Island has so far been outstanding and we are confident that this partnership will help us to create a very special sense of place; a vibrant, dynamic new neighbourhood with creative innovation at its heart.”

English National Ballet and English National Ballet School announced their intention to find a new home in July 2014, appointing national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) to identify opportunities and advise English National Ballet Board Member Grenville Turner on the process. LSH will now oversee the planned move to the new premises and manage the sale of English National Ballet’s existing facilities at Jay Mews, SW7.

For further information about English National Ballet visit


About English National Ballet
English National Ballet has a long and distinguished history. Founded in 1950 as London Festival Ballet by the great English Dancers Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, it has played a major role in the growth and history of ballet in the UK. Today, English National Ballet is renowned for taking world-class ballet to the widest possible audience through its national and international tour programme, offsite performances at festivals including Glastonbury and Latitude, its distinguished orchestra English National Ballet Philharmonic, and being a UK leader in creative learning and engagement practice and delivery, building innovative partnerships to deliver flagship programmes such as English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s. Under the artistic directorship of Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet has gained new acclaim as it introduces innovative new works to the Company’s repertoire while continuing to honour and reinvigorate traditional ballet.

About English National Ballet School
English National Ballet School is a world-renowned specialist training centre for aspiring and highly talented young ballet dancers aged 16 to 19. Founded in 1988 by English National Ballet, today the school exists as a separate entity but maintains strong links with its parent company, sharing its commitment to excellence and access. Its mission is to nurture and develop the next generation of world-class dance artists; artists who are confident and versatile, able to push boundaries and bring their creativity to the fore. Students participate in a three-year programme, validated by Trinity College London, with 90% of graduates joining prestigious dance companies worldwide. Currently a third of the dancers at English National Ballet are graduates of the School.

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