Undoubtedly one of the greatest examples of the contemporary high culture of Spain lies in Tamara Rojo – who is one the greatest ballet stars performing now. In fact, The Telegraph has just nominated her number 2 in their (2014) list of the best ballet stars in the world, praising her for her ‘keen intelligence and total dramatic engagement’. She was only beaten into second place by Sylvie Guillem, who is a living legend within the ballet world.
According to The Telegraph’s dance critic, Mark Monahan, Tamara Rojo has: ‘talent, brains, beauty’, which is strikingly obvious to anyone who has seen her perform. An extraordinary dancer, she is renowned for the dramatic boldness and brilliance of her dancing, which is enough to mesmerise and delight anyone who loves dance – let alone ballet.
Tamara Rojo has performed virtually all the major roles that you would expect of a world class ballerina. Now the artistic director of English National Ballet, she was for many years the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet, having first arrived in the UK from Spain to dance with the Scottish Ballet in 1996. This was after winning, in 1994, the Gold Medal at the Paris International Dance competition and a Special Jury Award.
In fact, Tamara Rojo was born in Canada but her parents were both Spanish and by the time she was four months old she had returned to Spain. She started dancing ballet at the age of five, despite her anti-Francoist parents not being professional artists themselves (her father was an industrial engineer and her mother a finance director). Clearly, she had talent from a young age but she has also claimed that this was combined with a ‘bloody mindedness’ that gave her the determination to become the best there is and, almost certainly, Spain’s greatest ballerina.
I rather liked her comment about arriving at the Scottish Ballet at the tender age of twenty from Spain. She was far from fluent in English and is quoted as saying “I spoke no English at this time but it did not matter; neither did they.”
Meanwhile, I recently read an interview with Tamara Rojo talking about want makes a performance of hers truly great – in her own eyes. She said: It’s alchemy, something beyond your control. It’s almost like you come out of yourself, you become something bigger than yourself. You gel with the public, with your partner, with the music. Some of those great shows haven’t been technically spotless, but something else did take over.”
That sounds like duende (see Understanding Flamenco) to me – which confirms her Spanish roots, if ever that were needed!
The question, of course, is whether Tamara Rojo’s finest performances are now behind her – after all she is now 40. However, as Sylvie Guillem has shown this, may well not be the case. Nonetheless, if you get a chance, do go and see her as soon as possible. Her dance perfection cannot last forever. However, few people would deny that she is Spain’s greatest ballerina and someone whose reputation will last for many years to come…
Incidentally, if you want see more information about Tamara Rojo then she has her own web site at: http://www.tamara-rojo.com/
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