Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023 | Foto: Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Tamara Rojo Artistic Director

Por: Diego Cerón

14, March, 2023 en Luxury Trending


By Heide VanDoren Betz

Tamara Rojo is a celebrated leader and award-winning principal dancer who was appointed Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet in January 2022. Prior to this appointment, she served as Artistic Director and Lead Principal of London’s English National Ballet (ENB) for nine and a half years, where she implemented groundbreaking programming, garnered the company accolades, and spearheaded a successful £50-million capital campaign to create a new headquarters for the company which opened in 2019.

Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

The dynamic Tamara Rojo has an impressive depth of experience through her 30-year career as a professional ballerina.

She holds a master’s degree of Theatrical Arts and a Bachelor of Dance Graduate with Honors from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid. She is on the Board of Arts Council East, Dance UK, the Anglo-Spanish Society, a Patron of the Ipswich-based Dance East Academy and Adviser to Spain’s Superior Counsel of Artistic Studies.

Tamara won a Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance Competition and a Special Jury Award unanimously given by a judging panel whose members included  ballet greats, Natalia Makarova, Vladimir Vassiliev and Galina Samsova. Ms. Samsova asked her to join the Scottish National Ballet where Tamara danced the principal roles in Swan Lake, Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet and Bournonville´s La Sylphide.

After SNB, she received a personal invitation from Derek Deane to join English National Ballet. Within six months she was promoted to Principal. Just a few of the principal roles she danced include Deane’s Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Makarova’s La Bayadere. Mr. Deane created the roles of Juliet (Romeo and Juliet) and Clara (The Nutcracker) for her. Her performances as Clara broke attendance records at the London Coliseum and The Times named her “Dancer Revelation of the Year.”

Tamara then joined The Royal Ballet as a Principal at the invitation of Sir Anthony Dowell shortly after her highly acclaimed Guest Artist debut with the Company in Peter Wright’s production of Giselle.

Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

She was a regular guest artist with The Mariinsky Ballet, La Scala Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, New National Tokyo Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, National Ballet of China, Lithuanian Ballet, Balletto Argentino, The Mikhailovsky Ballet, English National Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet and National Ballet of Finland. She regularly performed at the prestigious World Ballet Festival in Tokyo and many galas all over the world.

In April 2012 Tamara Rojo was appointed as director and Lead Principal Dancer of the English National Ballet. She also holds the Honor medal award of the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance 2014, II Award Foundation Banco Santander of Hispano-British Relations 2013, the Kennedy Centre’s Gold Medal in the Arts 2012, The Laurence Olivier Award, the Benois de la Danse Award, Gold Medal and the Special Jury Award at the Paris International Dance Competition, The Times Dancer Revelation of the Year, Critic’s Circle National Dance Award, Barclay’s Outstanding Achievement in Dance Award, Positano Dance Award, Leonide Massine Premio al Valore, the Italian Critic’s Award, and from the City of Madrid.

She has received Spain’s three highest honors: King Juan Carlos decorated Tamara with Spain’s three highest Honours, The Prince of Asturias Award, the Gold Medal of Fine Arts and Encomienda de Número de Isabel la Católica.

Tamara Rojo is SF Ballet’s first female Artistic Director, and just thefifth director, in the company’s 90 year history, succeeding Helgi Tomasson after a 30 year career .

Heide VanDoren Betz: Tell us a bit about your personal background. Where did you grow up? 

Tamara Rojo: I was born in Montreal but grew up in Madrid and began dancing at the age of five. My parents at the beginning didn’t love the idea of me becoming a professional dancer, though our house was always full of music, and I was always dancing, so soon they became completely supportive. I joined Víctor Ullate’s school, and by the time I was 19 I had moved to join the Scottish Ballet. In 1997 I move to London and began my career with English National Ballet. Shortly thereafter, I joined The Royal Ballet, and then returned to English National Ballet in 2012 as director and prima ballerina.

Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

HB: Who were some of your role models as a young dancer? And now? 

TR: Sylvie Guillem. I was a teenager when I first saw her dance, in Béjart’s La Luna, and I was fortunate enough to work alongside her for many years. She is a phenomenally gifted artist and person, and someone who continues to serve as inspiration for me and many other artists of all disciplines. As far as historic influences are concerned, I have always looked to Nureyev and Diaghilev for the enormous impact they had on the artform.

HB: What were some highlights of your time with the English National Ballet where you spent 10 years both as principal dancer and artistic director? 

TR: There are many! Commissioning and dancing in Akram Khan’s Giselle is a big one, as is spearheading the campaign that led to creating ENB’s new headquarters, which opened in 2019. I also had the great privilege of taking the company on tour to some of the most iconic theatres and cities around the world, like Paris, Madrid, and New York. Finally, choreographing Raymonda was a challenging and extremely rewarding experience—it was the first and only ballet I choreographed for the company in the decade I was there.

HB: Do you have a favorite or most inspirational role? 

TR: Giselle is particularly important to me, and I’ve also danced it many times and in many different productions around the world. As a dancer, the most challenging scene is the end of Act 1, the mad scene—you must suddenly go from being an innocent young woman full of life and optimism, to being a broken young woman who is also dying. That swift change is very demanding for an artist, but extremely rewarding.

HB: Why did you choose to come to SFBallet? 

TR: I’ve long admired SF Ballet as one of the most creative companies in North America. We have a shared vision for the artform, bringing the best quality of dance to the widest possible audiences. SF Ballet has been able to achieve this both creatively and artistically, particularly through its ongoing engagement and nurturing of so many different choreographic voices to create on and for the company.

Also, in the “industry,” you hear of companies with a strong camaraderie where dancers are very encouraging and supportive with each other. SF Ballet has had that reputation for many years and I found it to be true in my first couple of months here. There’s an openness about the dancers, a willingness to try new things, and a support of each other in both professional and personal ways. It’s very refreshing.

HB: What are your short terms goals for SF Ballet ?

TR: For the Company’s 90th anniversary season in general, we’re hoping to reflect the innovative, progressive, and accepting spirit of San Francisco. Like London, San Francisco is a deeply international and multicultural city, and we are honored to contribute to the city’s culture by uniting our community through dance. Ballet is a living and breathing art form, and we feel inspired by our community to strive towards what’s next.

Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Tamara Rojo Artistic Director © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

While Helgi Tomasson, my predecessor, programmed this season, it balances the classics with new works and commissions—a balance which remains important to me as SF Ballet’s new artistic director and as we look ahead to future seasons.

HB: What are your long term goals – with the slogan “ The future is now” for SF Ballet? 

TR: I have so many exciting ideas for SF Ballet! More abstractly, we know that ballet has the power to transform our culture and change the world for the better. It has had a colossal influence on fashion, music, literature, architecture, and every art form throughout history. And next year and beyond, we will think even bigger about what ballet can do—how we can harness our imagination and dream big.

HB: Are there any particular art forms, music or literature you look to for inspiration as a leader and creator? 

TR: I find inspiration in day-to-day moments, and by other art forms. I love theater, literature, and architecture. For example, seeing Sir Francis Bacon’s studies of the Velazquez portrait of Pope Innocent X at the National Gallery in London moved me greatly. I thought, “this is how you can admire and respect an original work, and then build from it, create something different and more daring.” This inspiration served me well when working in my version of Raymonda.

HB: How do you manage your demanding career plus being a wife a renowned ballet dancer (Isaac Hernandez)  and mother of a young son? Any advice for the partners and parents out there? 

TR: Honestly, you make do; we all do. You prioritize your time as best possible. As a dancer, life can often be completely focused on your career (or rather, your life becomes ballet, you breathe the art form), so I’ve had plenty of practice when it comes to discipline and balance. I will add: finding a good babysitter helps enormously!

HB: Is there anything else you would like us to know? 

TR: My relationship with ballet has taken many different shapes over the years: from student, to ballerina, to director, and I’ve also worked as scholar, teacher, advocate and activist. I’m proud of this career, and I am grateful for the chance to continue to cultivate these skills and interests. Ballet requires so much from dancers: passion, intelligence, and musicality. I continue to be passionate about this incredibly dynamic art form with such a strong history, lineage and tradition, and with so much potential for continuous evolvement!

HB: And a bit more about YOU: 

HB: Where / how do you relax, enjoy down-time?

TR: Lately on planes. It seems to be the only time I get to read a book or watch a movie without being distracted by emails.

HB: Where are your favorite vacation spots?

TR: I love the sea! The Mediterranean especially. Also, Tulum has a very special place in my heart.

HB: Your favorite food?

TR: A good authentic paella.

HB: A favorite drink/ Cocktail?

TR: Twinkle. A specialty of The Ivy Club in London. ( Recipe: Gin, sparkling wine and Elderflower)

HB: Favorite restaurants in San Francisco?

TR: Robin for amazing sushi. Papito in Hayes Valley for quick tasty tacos. Octavia for something a bit special and Rose’s Café for delicious pasta.