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Press Release: The Mayor of London officially opens English National Ballet’s new home in East London

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The Mayor of London officially opens English National Ballet’s new home in East London 

 

  • English National Ballet’s new state of the art home will provide a world-class centre for ballet in East London
  • £1million from the Mayor’s Good Growth Fund towards the new purpose-built home will generate jobs and apprenticeships for people in the local community 
  • The 93,000-sq ft. new home houses a production studio with fly tower, seven full-sized studios, state-of-the-art wardrobe and medical facilities and public spaces  

 

English National Ballet’s purpose-built new home in Canning Town East London, was officially opened last night by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and is now open to the public. 

 

The 93,000-sq ft. state-of-the-art building gives English National Ballet the space and facilities needed to continue to develop world-class artists, create new works that push the boundaries of ballet, and offer new jobs, skills and training opportunities for local communities. 

 

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Photo caption: Tamara Rojo, Deputy Mayor for Culture Justine Simmons and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the opening of English National Ballet's new building (c) Laurent Liotardo

 

While visiting the new premises, the Mayor of London saw a performance of the Olivier Award-nominated Playlist (Tracks 1,2) created by William Forsythe for English National Ballet and performed by 12 of its dancers in the new five storey production studio, fully equipped with fitted fly tower. 

 

Also on view were the seven full-sized studios and dedicated engagement and learning spaces showcasing English National Ballet’s work with local communities, including a rehearsal from young members of ENBYouthCo. The Mayor of London also met participants in English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s programme and Dancing East, a programme of weekly ballet classes for over 50’s. 

The Mayor also learnt about English National Ballet’s plans for an apprenticeship programme in its extensive wardrobe workshop and met some of the company’s dancers, production and wardrobe staff to hear more about its transformational new facilities.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London is a city full of creative talent so I’m delighted that these world-class facilities are opening up opportunities to all Londoners. By enabling the community to practise alongside internationally-renowned professional dancers, these new spectacular studios not only showcase our capital as a world leader for ballet, but help improve the lives and wellbeing of Londoners from all backgrounds.

“It shows the positive impact that culture can have on our communities and, with work on East Bank already underway, is the latest step towards creating a global cultural powerhouse in East London. This sends a clear message to the world that London is open to talent and creativity and always will be.”

Tamara Rojo CBE, Artistic Director of English National Ballet said: “Our new home is a hub for creativity, where imaginations will be ignited. It will be a springboard where artists from all disciplines can meet, grow, exchange, and inspire each other, creating work that can be shared with audiences up and down the country and across the world.

“It is a space where everyone can feel welcome, where we can increase our engagement with our local community, and where people of all ages, young and old, from all backgrounds can enjoy our art form.

“I truly believe that this is the best ballet centre in the world, which will transform the way ballet is created and open up the creative process to our audience.”

At four times the size of its former building in South Kensington, English National Ballet’s new home allows the company to open up the creative process for more people to participate in and benefit from the powerful art form of dance. The building, which has been designed by Glenn Howells Architects, has been designed to welcome in the local community, with views into the rehearsal studios, an exhibition space and café.

The Company’s work in the local community has already seen Dance for Parkinson’s taster sessions held in Waltham Forest, Newham, Redbridge and Havering and its Dancing East programme runs weekly ballet classes for over 50’s in five community centres in Tower Hamlets. A roadshow of youth workshops will be held in community centres across East London to support a recruitment drive for the ENBYouthCo and the Company’s youth dance projects and Ballet Explored workshops focusing on Akram Khan’s Giselle begin in secondary schools.  

The new home will become the focal point for ballet in the capital and on the world stage. It is the latest cultural centre to move to East and will be joined on London City Island by the London Film School. Future East London culture developments include East Bank, and the planned education district at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The Mayor of London invested £1million through his Good Growth Fund towards English National Ballet’s new building. With the support in creating exceptional facilities, the Company has the tools to launch our ambitious Bridging Neighbourhoods, Growing Talent project. Included in this is a skills programme that will provide training, apprenticeships, volunteering and learning opportunities for 4,000 Londoners over the next three years. This funding will also support new jobs at the facilities, supporting London’s creative industries to continue to grow.

English National Ballet’s new home on London City Island is also generously supported by Arts Council England’s Large Scale Capital Programme.

Claire Mera-Nelson, Acting London Area Director, Arts Council England said: ‘We are delighted that English National Ballet (ENB) are unveiling their new home on London City Island, which we supported with National Lottery funding. This new industry leading facility is future proofing their ability to develop world class artists and performances now and for generations to come. We look forward to seeing the impact on the local community the centre will have, how it will broaden offerings for children and young people and further their flagship Dance for Parkinson's programme to people across east London and beyond." 

The project received significant philanthropic support from individual donors and charitable foundations including the Clore Duffield Foundation, Dorfman Foundation, Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Linbury Trust, London Marathon Charitable Trust, Wigoder Family Foundation and Wolfson Foundation. The Costume Atelier is supported by CHANEL. The shell and core of the building was generously donated by EcoWorld Ballymore. 

English National Ballet School move into their spaces at the new building this winter.

ENDS

 


Notes to editors:

The fit-out team for English National Ballet’s new home is:
Architects Glenn Howells Architects, Project Manager & Quantity Surveyor Pulse Consult, M&E Consultant & Structural Engineer Hydrock, Acoustic Consultant AECOM, Production Studio design & build Unusual Rigging, Fit-out contractor BW Interiors, Graphic design We Not I, Project Director Jen McLachlan.

About the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund
The Good Growth Fund is the Mayor of London’s biggest regeneration fund and is delivered through the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). It was launched in June 2017 and provides capital funding from sources including the Local Growth Fund and European Social Fund, as well as expert regeneration advice, design support and knowledge sharing opportunities. For more information, see:  https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/regeneration/funding-opportunities/good-growth-fund-supporting-regeneration-london   

‘A case for dance infrastructure’
Earlier this year City Hall published the first-ever study of dance performance and studio spaces in London. The research, published in May 2019, made clear London’s dance spaces are in demand –more than 3,800 people are based at dance premises across London on any given day. The findingshighlighted the importance of access to affordable spaces to support all dancers in London, and the need for local authorities and developers to work together to widen access to dance spaces in the city. The full report is available HERE.

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 graduates joining prestigious dance companies worldwide. Currently a third of the dancers at English National Ballet are graduates of the School. The School also offer weekly children’s ballet classes, ENBS Juniors, for 3–10-year olds.

 

 

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There was a mention of this on the BBC London news at 1800 yesterday. Showed a short clip of class, a brief interview with James Streeter and a quick.look at the class and rehearsal facilities, which look exce!!ent.

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After all this time can't wait to see it in November now! 

What is the surrounding Square like .....are there any other outlets/shops there or is it just flats? And did you find it only about five mins walk from the station? 

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It is only about 5 minutes from Canning Town station - you have to get the right exit signed London City island and then a lift. And its just over the red coloured bridge. There is a place called The Grocer just a bit further along the development which is somewhere for a meal, drink or coffee rather than being a deli - but I think ENB might open their little bar area in the reception to encourage people to go inside. 

 

 

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It takes a little longer to negotiate the station itself and use the three lifts but it’s all really quick. If you don’t immediately see the sign to City Island at the station, follow the signs to Bow Creek.

The London Ballet Circle has a special tour of the building arranged for midday on Wednesday, 30th October when the dancers will be ‘in residence’.

https://www.tlbc.org.uk

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On ‎14‎/‎09‎/‎2019 at 17:45, LinMM said:

After all this time can't wait to see it in November now! 

What is the surrounding Square like .....are there any other outlets/shops there or is it just flats? And did you find it only about five mins walk from the station? 

 

I went on spec to see the new HQ as part of Open House weekend - the tours were supposedly fully booked, but there were some no-shows, so I managed to get in on one anyway!  To answer Lin's questions: it's pretty largely flats, with the odd business, but very little in the way of shops.  It probably is only about 5 minutes from the station - provided you can find your way onto the footbridge leading to the island in the first place!  Access seems to be largely via the bowels of Canning Town tube station - unfortunately, the sign for the exit is blocked from view from certain angles by a departure screen.

 

The new building and the facilities are quite stunning: the production studio is hugely adaptable, has a fly tower high enough for all scenery to be flown in, and is large enough to accommodate run-throughs (with orchestra!) of productions destined for the London Coliseum and the Royal Albert Hall, the company's largest venues.  The studios are state of the art, and the wardrobe department finally has all the space it needs, after years of being in very cramped quarters in Markova House.  The company's waited a long time for a new home, so they really deserve it.

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I sort of know my way out of the station and across the red bridge ....but have previously had to turn right at the end and head around to the deli/ grocer/ restaurant place. 

Not been allowed to go straight on into the Square before so wasn't sure what was in the Square apart from ENB.

Im sure somebody said there was a Sainsbury's in the Square joking that at least the dancers would be able to get some lunch!! 

But perhaps it's not open yet.

The nature reserve ....which goes on off to the right before you cross the bridge ....is well worth a trip if the weather is okay but the wind does seem to have an 8/10 days presence around there!! 

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Just to add, I went to the new ENB HQ last night for 2 taster classes in their adult recreational programme. It currently very much has the feeling of not being quite finished - I was quite early for the 7pm class and am pretty sure I was the first person ever to have used the general public ladies' changing room!  Which is a bit cluttered with debris and has no numbering on the lockers or their keys.  Because I was early, I was able to get an easily-retraceable locker at the end of the block, but for those who arrived later it was a bit of an intelligence test :lol:

 

The place feels HUGE and the Linden Studio on the 2nd floor (where both of my classes were) feels vast and airy.  In nice weather it's going to be beautifully light as well, though last night the weather was disgusting.  Very very grippy flooring though.  I kept getting the front half of my leather sole stuck when attempting a tendu to the side.

 

Three things in particular stood out about those who turned up for the taster classes (there was an introductions session at the beginning): firstly, many people at both the Absolute Beginners and the Improvers classes were really local, living in the new flats on the island.  This bodes well for the place's future as a community asset.  Secondly, the Absolute Beginners class had an encouragingly high number of men. Maybe 7 or 8 out of 30 people in the class.  I have literally NEVER been in a ballet class with more than three men in it before :lol:  And thirdly, it was really diverse in all possible respects - age, ethnicity, background etc.

 

The scheduling of the classes doesn't really work for me at the moment, but there's a good chance something might work in spring or summer term of next year - by which time I am expected to be based on that side of town for work.

 

The espresso bar in the foyer looks nice, but I didn't have a chance to check it out.

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I'm wondering whether I can sneak some classes in there while it's still reasonably accessible to me.  I'd thought it was out in the sticks, but Canning Town is actually quite doable at the moment.  Quite shocked to hear about the number of men - like you, I don't think we've ever had more than 3 in a class - but it's great to hear. 

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2 minutes ago, alison said:

I'm wondering whether I can sneak some classes in there while it's still reasonably accessible to me.  I'd thought it was out in the sticks, but Canning Town is actually quite doable at the moment.  Quite shocked to hear about the number of men - like you, I don't think we've ever had more than 3 in a class - but it's great to hear. 

 

The Improvers class had the one solitary bloke that tends to crop up in the majority of classes (not the SAME one bloke, but you know what I mean!)  I hope the number of men that turned up for Absolute Beginners translates into a similar ratio for ongoing classes, then maybe in a year or two there will be a few more of them in Improvers as well...

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Thanks for that info Ruth though am really disappointed to hear the floor is sticky.....even though ENB are holding a credit on my account for next term I am worried about the floor if it's very sticky will have to try out first........will PM you as want to mention another sticky floor somewhere else which I think could have contributed to my accident! Any sliding step on such floors can be dangerous but it's a new phenomenon for me as most floors can be the opposite a bit slippy but I still would prefer that as its easier to adjust to whereas the sticky can suddenly take you by surprise!! 

Does anybody know why these new dance floor coverings are so sticky ....should they be cleaned more often? 

The studios themselves do sound fab though ...large light and airy is just what I like!! 

I agree some of the scheduling is not ideal as some classes are so late!! Starting a ballet class at 8.20pm in the evening is not much fun and especially not in the winter. 

Im down originally to attend the Wednesday Intermediate class which starts at 7pm .....a much better time...but may decide to go with the Improvers class on Tuesday's just to get going again for the first term. 

Are you waiting to attend regularly until next term? 

 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, LinMM said:

Does anybody know why these new dance floor coverings are so sticky ....should they be cleaned more often? 

 

 

...

 

Im down originally to attend the Wednesday Intermediate class which starts at 7pm .....a much better time...but may decide to go with the Improvers class on Tuesday's just to get going again for the first term. 

Are you waiting to attend regularly until next term? 

 

I've got my eye on the Tuesday 7pm Improvers class, but not until summer term.  As you know, I'm currently committed to my City Lit Beginners class on Tuesdays, but am switching to City Lit Improvers on Thursdays for spring term - the thing is, Thursdays are better for me than Tuesdays next term anyway.  But then in the summer term, I've got a clear run of Tuesday evenings so would hope to nab a space in the ENB class then.

 

I hope the sticky floors might be something that will be "broken in", or fixable with the right treatment.  The teacher wondered if the stickiness might be caused by company dancers using shoe rosin, but I don't buy that - they've only been using it five minutes...

Edited by RuthE
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Ive been reading up about it and I think how often the floor is cleaned properly is very important! 

 

Ive been told that if a floor is exceptionally sticky one of the best things to do  is to put those "things" you put in shoes in the summer that slip around the foot but can't be seen above the shoe line.....I often wear in the summer inside ballet shoes instead of socks....anyway can't remember the proper name but apparently if you slip these OVER the shoe ..... then that can reduce the chances of jamming your foot or twisting it. Obviously you have to check doesn't go the other way and be too slippy eg : cotton ones may be less slippy than nylon ones etc.

I would really hope not to have to go to these lengths .....it just depends on just how sticky the floor is ....but on the day I had my accident another girl .....(in a different studio though) dislocated her knee!! So am now wondering whether too sticky floors are that safe to dance on! 

It could be that if the floor is very new as at ENB that it's a bit sticky at first too. 

 

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