Tamara Rojo: Axing dance in schools will restrict ballet to wealthy
Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of the English National Ballet criticised the decision of former education secretary Michael Gove to cut dance from the school curriculum
Artistic Director and principle dancer Tamara Rojo & Fabian Reimair from English National Ballet rehearse Akram Khan ‘s new work: Dust, as part of a program entitled ‘Lest We Forget’ in commemoration of the start of World War I, at The Barbican Centre in London Photo: Araud Stephenson
By Keith Perry 11:47PM GMT 05 Dec 2014
Tamara Rojo, the artistic director of the English National Ballet has criticised the decision of former education secretary Michael Gove to cut dance from the school curriculum, saying it risks making dance a preserve of the better off.
Ms Rojo said it was unfair as it meant “those that don’t have the means won’t have access to dance”.
She told the Evening Standard that is was particularly unwise to take dance out of schools as there was evidence of overwhelmingly improved results in maths taught through movement and 100 per cent increase in confidence.
The ENB itself offers tickets for as little as £10 to enable people to enjoy live dance. “We try to ensure that it is an art form that is accessible to everybody,” she said.
The Spanish dance star and her company are preparing to open their traditional Christmas production of Nutcracker followed by a run of Swan Lake.
Rojo said Nutcracker was important because the company had been performing it for more than 60 years. She added: There are two dozen Nutcrackers going round the United States. it is a very important tradition because for so many people it’s the first time they come to see ballet at all or to see a live performance in an orchestra.
“It’s a family tradition that goes from generation to generation and serves as an introduction to the art form.”
The challenge, she said, was to keep those first-time visitors – but audiences for dance have been growing. She praised both Billy Elliott, which overturned many prejudices about boys doing ballet, and Strictly Come Dancing for helping to foster a new passion.
But she rejected any notion she might follow Darcey Bussell in becoming a judge on the BBC show saying: “I think Darcey does a wonderful job.”
Rojo, 40, boosted the ENB’s fortunes when she returned as principal and boss two years ago but she said the pressure was shared with the arrival of major dancers such as Alina Cojocaru and guests including and guests including Ivan Vasiliev.
But she warned she would not be able to dance for as long as Sylvie Guillem who will retire next year at 50.
“She has an incredible physicality that I sadly don’t have. My end will come much earlier than that.
The Nutcracker runs at the London Coliseum from Thursday to January 4.