The English National Ballet and the English National Ballet School have a lot to look forward to; A new world-class home, designed by Glenn Howells architects, awaits them at Poplar’s London City Island.
At 93,000sq ft, it’s four times the size of its current buildings in Chelsea and will include three rehearsal studios, a lecture theatre, its own gym and green room. Built-in windows looking into the studios from the school will give students daily insights into what goes into the rehearsal and creation of outstanding ballet.
With the public opening date set for September 2019, Clipper sat down with four of the ENB’s members to find out how the move will change the day-to-day – and future – work of the world-renowned 70-year-old company.
Sarah Kundi, First Artist
How will the move change your short-term and long-term future with the ENB?
We’ll have an abundance of space, making our working environment a far more efficient place to work and create. I would love to go into teaching after my dancing career, and as the English National Ballet School shall be moving in with us, it will hopefully provide me with a platform to practice and transition.
Which features will help the most?
There will be a bigger facility for injury prevention, maintenance, rehabilitation and treatment, which is incredibly important for us dancers.
We currently have a small space which gets extremely cramped at times. But we’ve made do for many years, so having these new and expansive facilities will most definitely support and help us so much more.
Gerry Tiernan, Costume Production Manager
What are you most looking forward to about the move?
At the moment, our working space is a cluster of small rooms on the top floor of an old building, used by so many people and for so many purposes.
Everything from making, dying, painting and printing to costume fittings with the dancers, and all the admin side of things as well. Even small things [will make a difference]; the new space won’t have any doors, which really do get in the way where we are at the moment!
The new space is purpose-built for our needs – it’s big, airy and has lots of storage, which is essential for our team.
Are there any features that will help you do your job even better than before?
We’ll have more cutting tables which will be invaluable, with a separate room for dying. We’ll have enough space and equipment that no two people will have to use the same things at any given time – which will be amazing.
What have you got planned for once you’re settled in?
No rest for the wicked. We’ll be working on costumes for some of our upcoming ballets – which will include Creature by Akram Khan, Le Corsaire and, of course, the Nutcracker in the winter.
Rhys Antoni Yeomans, Artist of the Company
How do you think the new space will change the way you work?
At [our site on] Jay Mews we only have two small studios, so the workload is extremely intense in order to keep the incredibly high standard of our busy season’s repertoire.
The new building will allow us to have much more space and time to push the company further. It will also allow individuals such as myself to invest more time into my body, movement and versatility.
I also like to choreograph, so having this extra space will definitely benefit my personal choreographic education.
Alison Hartley, Head of Creative Programmes
What are you most looking forward to regarding the move?
Offering a creative space in the east of the city and welcoming the local community to come and participate in classes, workshops, projects or programmes, and exposing them to ENB’s creatives and creations. The new building is fully accessible.
With an increase in the number of available studios we can add additional layers to our engagement programme such as classes for young people as well as adults, build cultivation events into our outreach programmes for over 50s in east London, and so much more.
What’s on the agenda for the summer?
We’ll be popping up in and around east London until the new doors open, offering taster sessions for some of our programmes, including Dance for Parkinson’s.
Once we’re in the building, we’ll hit the ground running! And enjoy the roof terrace (sorry public, it’s staff only).
Clipper Magazine is produced for Republic by Courier Media.
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