Philanthropist helping English National Ballet dance its way out of Covid crisis gets studio named after him
- Credit: Piers-Allardyce
A state-of-the-art dance production studio with high-tech gallery and seating for audiences at English National Ballet’s new east London HQ has been named after the philanthropist who paid for it.
The new Holloway studio at the London City Island centre in Leamouth has been named after Charles Holloway “in recognition of a substantial charitable donation” to the troubled ballet comany.
A special “socially distanced” ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening this week to comply with Covid restrictions, followed by performances from finalists of this year’s Emerging Dancer competition.
“We are grateful to the philanthropy to our artists,” the ballet company’s chairman Sir Roger Carr said.
“The scale of the Holloway studio has helped us slowly get our dancers rehearsing after lockdown.”
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The Covid crisis has had a devastating effect on the City Island complex which opened 12 months ago, now having to keep its head above water with emergency Arts Council funding.
It had to furlough 85 per cent of its dancers and staff and was now scaling back performances to cope.
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Many productions have had to be scrapped because of theatre closures with the company losing two-thirds of its income.
Artistic director Tamara Rojo said: “Ballet can be a part of the solution to this crisis.
“The scale of the new Holloway studio has transformed the way we work, giving us freedom to be creative and open up to other theatre and music companies so that its benefits are shared.”
Two productions were postponed because theatres closed under lockdown.
They are being rescheduled, Creature by Akram Khan, now having its premiere next year at Sadler’s Wells, and a new version of Raymonda with a date not fixed yet.
Nine new commissions are on the cards this autumn, however, including Le Corsaire and Akram Khan’s Giselle.
The English National Ballet moved to east London last September from Kensington to its purpose-built 93,000-sq ft City Island centre, replacing the cramped labyrinth of rehearsal rooms next to the Royal Albert Hall that had been used since the company was set up in 1951.
The new complex won the Architect’s Journal Building of the Year award for its tower rigged with a technical gallery, lighting, sound desks and its retractable seating for audiences up to 175 to see productions in their formative stages.
But the unexpected pandemic hit the first two seasons with the repertoire having to be reduced for the next 18 months.