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Jan McNulty

Press Release: Caroline Thomson Appointed Executive Director of English National Ballet

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Caroline Thomson Appointed Executive Director of English National Ballet

 

Farooq Chaudhry to join as Producer

 

Caroline Thomson has been appointed Executive Director of English National Ballet.  Caroline, who has been acting as interim Executive Director since May, takes on her new responsibilities with immediate effect.

 

Speaking of her new role, Caroline said: “Under the Artistic Direction of Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet has started an exciting journey of transformation and I am delighted to be able to play a part in leading it to success.”

 

Caroline Thomson, a former journalist and programme maker, has held a series of senior roles in broadcasting. She was Deputy Director-General of the BBC until September 2012. 

   

Justin Bickle, Chair of English National Ballet’s Board, welcomed her appointment: “I am delighted that Caroline has agreed to join English National Ballet in a permanent capacity.  She has had a long and distinguished career running creative organisations and will bring a wealth of experience to the role of Executive Director.  I know that she will prove to be an inspiring leader.”

 

Caroline’s first act in her new role was to announce that Farooq Chaudhry, co-founder and producer of Akram Khan Dance Company, will be joining English National Ballet as Producer. In this new role Farooq will support the creative vision of Artistic Director Tamara Rojo and the Company and will develop the commercial potential of the Company’s productions both in the UK and overseas.  

 

Farooq, who joins immediately, said: “English National Ballet has an energy and vision which excites me and reminds me of how Akram Khan and I started out.  It offers me an opportunity to flex my producer muscles in new and different ways. When Tamara Rojo tells me with utmost conviction she wants to change the way ballet companies are run, I believe her.  She is a visionary who sees things others don't and I am thrilled by the challenge of working with this remarkable woman and her team and helping to make English National Ballet a ballet company for today and the future.”

 

Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director, said: “This is excellent news.  In Caroline we welcome a leader of the highest credentials, in Farooq one of the most creative figures in the world of arts management.”                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

Notes to Editors

Caroline Thomson, Executive Director

Born in London, UK she graduated from York with a degree in History and Economics. Caroline who joined the a BBC as trainee journalist, went on to become Chief Operating Officer / Deputy Director General of the BBC (responsible for all non-programme parts across the entire organisation except Finance, operating budgets in excess of £800m). She also worked at Channel 4 (where she was in charge of science/business programmes and latterly as Head of Corporate Affairs)

 

She is currently Chair of Digital UK (responsible for digital terrestrial television); Non-executive Director of CN Media Group; Deputy Chair of the National Gallery and a trustee of Tullie House Gallery, Cumbria

 

Caroline Thomson was formerly a member of English National Ballet’s Board from which she steps down immediately.

 

Farooq Chaudhry, Producer

 

Farooq Chaudhry, co-founder and producer of Akram Khan Dance Company, plays a key role in forming innovative business models to support Akram Khan’s artistic ambitions as well as offering creative support during the development of Khan's projects. He is a 'project champion' for Arts Council England's Cultural Leadership programme, Chair of Dance UK's Board and a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee for Clore Leadership Programme. He is a regular speaker in arts management and cultural entrepreneurship courses. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledged him in a list of the world's top hundred cultural actors and entrepreneurs in 2008.

 

Farooq Chaudhry will continue to work with Akram Khan but sees his new role with English National Ballet as an opportunity to take on new challenges in a different context.

 

English National Ballet brings world-class classical ballet to the widest possible audience - delighting them with the traditional and inspiring them with the new. We aspire to be the most exciting and creative ballet company in the UK. We perform ballet anywhere.

 

For further information about English National Ballet 2013/14 Performance Schedule visit www.ballet.org.uk  You can find English National Ballet on Facebook and Twitter @ENBallet

 

 

 

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The news about Caroline Thompson is much to be welcomed, not least because her continuing in the position she has occupied on an interim basis avoids the risk of more turbulence within ENB.

 

Having read both the job description online and the press release above, I remain somewhat unclear as to what the role of Producer actually entails and what it is intended that his outputs and impact will be. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

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I know nothing of Caroline Thomson but I would disagree that Tamara Rojo is taking the ENB on an exciting journey,   as far as I am concerned she's on the road to ruining it,   her recent interview in the Guardian intimated she was not wanting "the grannys with their granddaughters" but was wanting to attract the "gays and single women"   nothing wrong with that of course but I'm a granny and I've spent a fortune following ENB and I'm insulted with her remarks,   there's no sign of Elena Glurdjize in Corsaire which is clearly mad and I for one won't be supporting them any longer,   I don't suppose she'll care though,   one less "Granny" .      

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Gosh did she really say that? Seems a bit careless on her part! There's room for grannies and granddaughters and gays and.....single women?.....are these a weird category on their own now then?!

She probably just means she wants to have a wider repertoire to suit all tastes etc but her comments do rather seem to stereotype people......there could be some gays out there who would love a diet of Fille and Swan Lake and some grannies who would look forward to Midnight Express!!

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......... there's no sign of Elena Glurdjize in Corsaire which is clearly mad........    

 

I know that this is going off topic but I absolutely agree about Elena - as do a number of posters on this site. She does have a number of Nutcacker shows, though - and fingers crossed that she will be cast for Juliet at the RAH in June.

 

However, I am sorry to learn that you will longer support ENB, QueenBee. The dancers need (and so much deserve) our continued interest.

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I know nothing of Caroline Thomson but I would disagree that Tamara Rojo is taking the ENB on an exciting journey,   as far as I am concerned she's on the road to ruining it,   her recent interview in the Guardian intimated she was not wanting "the grannys with their granddaughters" but was wanting to attract the "gays and single women"   nothing wrong with that of course but I'm a granny and I've spent a fortune following ENB and I'm insulted with her remarks,   there's no sign of Elena Glurdjize in Corsaire which is clearly mad and I for one won't be supporting them any longer,   I don't suppose she'll care though,   one less "Granny" .      

 

The actual quote:

 

"‘Ballet isn’t only for grandmothers with granddaughters. They are important, but there are also young people, gay men, single women — lots of single women — and men themselves. And that’s exactly why I chose an image with men — not only because Le Corsaire has five principal male roles, but also because it tells everyone that this is a different classical ballet: it’s about power, strength, masculinity.’"

 

Judge for yourselves.

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And I'm sure the grannies will be delighted with this too!! I can't wait for the Kings of Dance coming next March!

 

The quote within the context makes more sense of course so thanks for that.

 

I'm all for men's roles being upped and love men dancing as much as women. In class when a lot younger I loved having a go at some of the men's steps as well.

 

However I'm still not all that keen on her grannies with grand daughters reference!....even though I know she is trying to attract larger audiences to ENB which is a good thing.

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Not sure why Tamara singled out this particular audience demographic.  The journalist (not Tamara) uses the phrase "granny magnet" in the intro leading me to believe that either the interviewer herself created the granny context or Tamara decided to be controversial.  Whichever that was we will probably never know.  The link to the article below: 

 

http://www.spectator.co.uk/spectator-life/spectator-life-culture/9022501/viva-la-diva/

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I found the whole selection of audience demographic a bit weird, actually.  And slightly disappointed that she singled out "gay men" (yes, I know she does mention men in general later), which I think only reinforces the stereotype that straight men don't go to the ballet, whereas I'm sure that most ballet.coers, like me, know a lot of straight men who do.  If she's talking "power, strength, masculinity" for Le Corsaire, surely this actually ought to be an ideal opportunity to convince straight men that their perceptions of ballet are wrong?

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I think her intention was to just list seemingly random demographic groups, but it did come across a bit clumsy.

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If this is a direct quotation then I think that one has to bear in mind that Tamara was speaking off the cuff and, accordingly, her words should not be too closely analysed. She wants ballet to appeal to men, which presumably covers both straight and gay men, and to young people and I think that it is right to mention both these categories of audience member who are not as well represented at performances as women and older people. I don't think that she was being disrespectful to grandmothers.

 

As for Elena, it *is* puzzling and disappointing that she does not appear to be cast in Le Corsaire, particularly after she did not perform in Swan Lake, but perhaps there is a good reason for this that we on this forum are unaware of. Now that Alina has joined ENB, and following the engagement of guests both last season and this, I'm wondering whether Tamara is moving towards the model which I understand the company operated in earlier years, namely the importation of guest stars for different productions supported by the regular dancers of the company.

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I suspect the interviewer may have phrased the question in such a way as to suggest that the usual ballet going audience is made up of grannies and granddaughters.  Something along the lines of "Are you not in danger of alienating the normal, grannie/granddaughter audience..."

 

And I have a number of gay male friends, who would never go and see a classical ballet, but would consider booking a ticket for one of Matthew Bourne's productions.

Edited by Fonteyn22
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I wonder if she is after a more afluent audience?  Rather than come out with saying she wants to attract the A & B top earning groups, she alludes to gay men who tend to have high disposable incomes (ever heard of the 'pink pound'?), as do a lot of single women.

 

ENB has always had a devoted following which actually grew during the Eagling years, these fans tend to like quality rather than gimmicks though, so perhaps the aim is to replace one audience with another.

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 Now that Alina has joined ENB, and following the engagement of guests both last season and this, I'm wondering whether Tamara is moving towards the model which I understand the company operated in earlier years, namely the importation of guest stars for different productions supported by the regular dancers of the company.

 

Sorry Aileen, in the years I was an avid follower of ENB (1984 - mid 1990s) I can only remember guest artists on a regular basis in Onegin and that tended to be in London and not the provinces.  When was it the model to import guest stars?

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Well, I remember a few former company principals coming back to guest, and Evelyn Hart in Swan Lake (she was on the video), Lynn Seymour in Anastasia (oh, and Guillem in Bolero, how could I forget that), but generally not that many "starry" names post-Nureyev.  As you say, it usually tended to be for Onegin.

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Well, I must have misunderstood how Festival Ballet/ENB used to operate. Wasn't it a vehicle for Dolin and Markova at its inception and didn't Nureyev come in for certain production runs in which he was the star attraction and performed at every performance? Janet, you yourself have mentioned several (star) dancers who have danced with the company over the years and who I understood were guests rather than permanent members of the company. My apologies if I have misunderstood how the company has operated in the past.

 

I think that Tamara is trying to create an identity for ENB which is distinct from that of the RB. Only time will tell whether this is a good strategy or not.

 

Speaking of building a devoted following, my (Ballet Buddy) daughter has today received a birthday card from ENB signed by Daria(!) who happens to be her favourite dancer. She'll be thrilled to see it when she gets home from school.

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I think you may be right Aileen in the dim and distant past.  Most of the guests I saw were in Onegin and those were all London performances (apart from ex-company member Eva Evdokimova who stepped in at fairly short notice in Bradford and was utterly unforgettable).  I did see Nureyev with the company (in London) but it was in his own production of R&J. 

 

Alison, I didn't see Lynn Seymour in Anastasia with them.  She'd had to pull out through injury and Trinidad Sevillano did the performances I saw.

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I seem to remember dancers such as Noella Pontois, doing a season rather than becoming long term company members, others such as Peter Martins turned up for galas.  Occasionally a dancer would guest for a certain role e.g. Fonteyn in Night Shadow but in general I do remember more guests in the old days.

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Speaking of building a devoted following, my (Ballet Buddy) daughter has today received a birthday card from ENB signed by Daria(!) who happens to be her favourite dancer. She'll be thrilled to see it when she gets home from school.

 

This is a great idea!

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Love the birthday card from Daria to your daughter Aileen, run out of likes for today!

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As for Elena, it *is* puzzling and disappointing that she does not appear to be cast in Le Corsaire, particularly after she did not perform in Swan Lake, but perhaps there is a good reason for this that we on this forum are unaware of.

I dared to ask Elena why we don't see her in Swan Lake and Le Corsaire. She is neither injured nor pregnant. :)

After her last Raymonda I long to see her more and more.

Edited for typo.

Edited by Amelia
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The actual quote:

 

"‘Ballet isn’t only for grandmothers with granddaughters. They are important, but there are also young people, gay men, single women — lots of single women — and men themselves. And that’s exactly why I chose an image with men — not only because Le Corsaire has five principal male roles, but also because it tells everyone that this is a different classical ballet: it’s about power, strength, masculinity.’"

 

Judge for yourselves.

 

I see nothing wrong whatsoever with this quote and looking to widen the demographic. It's not disrespectful to anybody as far as I can see.

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I know nothing of Caroline Thomson but I would disagree that Tamara Rojo is taking the ENB on an exciting journey,   as far as I am concerned she's on the road to ruining it,   her recent interview in the Guardian intimated she was not wanting "the grannys with their granddaughters" but was wanting to attract the "gays and single women" ..." .      

 

The real quote implies no such thing.

 

Her point is clearly about broadening the audience and not about discouraging those who love ballet already. I was at an ENB Masterclass last night and it was full of what I'd call their traditional audience - enjoying being in the company of Tamara and the dancers. And visa versa.

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I wonder if she is after a more afluent audience?  Rather than come out with saying she wants to attract the A & B top earning groups, she alludes to gay men who tend to have high disposable incomes (ever heard of the 'pink pound'?), as do a lot of single women.

 

Not to mention the 'grey panthers'.  There are plenty of affluent pensioners around who have much broader tastes than the interviewer seemed to be aware of.  When you reach the grand old age of 65 you don't suddenly get a desire to see nothing more exciting than the Nutcracker!

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