I joined the company in 1979 under Beryl Grey’s directorship. I spent 17 years with the Company. First as a dancer from 1979
until 1991, and then Artistic Director from 2001 to 2005. I had worked with Sir
Anton Dolin who had been a guest in Stockholm where I started my career. I
had the conversation with Dolin saying I’d quite like to expand my horizons. Can you
advised me, and he said have you thought of Festival Ballet. I turned up first day
and it was like I knew I’d come home. It was a tough hard working
ballet company but I loved it. The experience of working with Christopher Bruce on
Swansong was tremendously exciting times for all of us. And of course the
result was a fantastic fine piece of work that was very relevant of its time.
Politically it had a message and choreographically it was innovative.
You know we have to see the specific context of its period when it was created, and we
performed it all over the world for the next several years. When I became Artistic Director, one of
my aspirations was to update the repertoire and start to bring in a
little bit more contemporary work. I gave Wayne McGregor his first commission
from a classical ballet company in 2 Human, the duet that he created for
Thomas Edur and Agnes Oakes. Michael Corder of course made this fabulous
piece Melody on the Move to popular English tunes. It was tremendously
successful. I think in that first year of my directorship, I think I commissioned a
total of of 70 new pieces. The essential qualities of English National Ballet, and
Festival Ballet as it was when I first joined, was always its ensemble, it’s the
sense of group feeling and particularly the female corps de ballet has been one
of the strongest of any ballet company I’ve known. I am proud of my association with
English National Ballet. Of course I am. It was such a big part of my life, not
just on my dancing career. You know, I met my wife through the Company, most of my great friendships. It’s part of your life. It has to be, and I think
everybody that has ever worked for the Company over the decades, will feel
similarly. Ultimately we all belong to the greater achievement of the Company as a whole.