Tamara Rojo joined the elite, though thankfully growing, roster of female ballet company directors seven years ago when she took the helm at English National Ballet. Since then she's managed the even more uncommon feat of continuing to perform as a leading principal dancer for ENB while directing the company. Rojo began her remarkable career in her home country of Spain, but at 22 years old she left for the UK, dancing with Scottish National Ballet, ENB, and then The Royal Ballet, where she spent 12 years as a principal and earned international acclaim for her assured technique and passionate stage presence. Her performances, like this 2009 La Bayadère, show an artist truly in command of her craft.
As Nikiya in final scene in Act I, Rojo is mesmerizing and heartbreaking, going through a full gamut of emotions from wounded, to joyous, to utterly betrayed. She enters to discover that she must dance at the engagement celebration of her beloved Solor and the conniving Gamzatti (played by Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez, whose superb acting in their small moments of mime are also a highlight.) The somber adagio that follows is a stunning display of Rojo's flexibility and control. At 2:30, her développé into penché is achingly slow, yet also smooth and suspended. Her pure movements reflect Nikiya's purity of heart, stirring up our compassion when she ultimately sacrifices herself. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!