East London has further entrenched its credentials as the new artistic heart of the capital with another significant cultural coup.
English National Ballet has announced that it will be moving to London City Island, the new Manhattan-style development on the Limmo Peninsula next to Canning Town station.
The ENB plans to bring together the company and its world-renowned ballet school under one roof from autumn 2018.
Artistic director Tamara Rojo said: “I want to push the company to the forefront of excellence and innovation by developing top talent, collaborating with the best artists at every stage of the artistic process, and creating an environment to produce ground-breaking and lasting new work that will inspire and excite audiences.
“I want to create a new space that allows us to produce and rehearse amazing work. Not only that, I want a building that will be available for other artistic organisations to rehearse too, whether they are staging opera, musicals or theatre. I want the space to echo to the sound of creative Britain.”
The ENB will be in good company. Sadler's Wells is one of the blue-chip cultural companies taking space at the Olympic Park, with a medium-sized auditorium and a special interest in urban dance while artistic hub Trinity Buoy Wharf is right next door.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson called ENB’s decision an “exciting development”.
He said: “The move will open up new opportunities for local collaborations and further increase east London’s growing status as an important cultural centre.”
City Island developers Ballymore has donated the shell and core of the building. CEO Sean Mulryan said: “We are honoured that English National Ballet has decided to make its new permanent home there. We are confident that this partnership will help us to create a very special sense of place – a vibrant, dynamic new neighbourhood with creative innovation at its heart.”
The new building will include open spaces that will give the public access to English National Ballet and English National Ballet School’s archives, and encourage engagement with local communities.
The centrepiece is a rehearsal and development space, which includes a “fly tower”, needed for dress rehearsals with full sets and orchestra designed so it can be used for any theatre production, not only dance.
English National Ballet is currently based at Jay Mews in Kensington operating out of a 19th century building originally designed for student housing.
ENB executive director Caroline Thomson said: “This move means we will have a new home with the kind of facilities one would expect from a world-class company, ensuring we can continue to deliver the kind of artistic achievements we have become synonymous with.”