Entertainment & Arts

Ballet star Tamara Rojo says modern children lack discipline

Tamara Rojo
Image caption Tamara Rojo became a principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in 2000

The principal dancer at the English National Ballet says many of today's pupils lack the discipline to succeed.

Tamara Rojo told Radio Times magazine that children were often praised for quick results rather than hard work.

"We live in a society that rewards fast success based on little talent or commitment, which is transient and a dangerous place to be," she said.

"Do we want to promote instant success and instant failure, or do we want to promote self-esteem and hard work?"

The Spanish dancer, who is also the artistic director of the ballet company, began classes at the age of five, and joined her first ballet company aged 11.

She said her success was based upon persistence and hard work.

"I never had natural flexibility or the physical abilities that some people had.

"I had a strong technique and was hard-working - I trained for six hours, six days a week from the age of 11 - and that made up for the things I didn't naturally have.

"I rose up the company very fast and was a principal by 18."

Carlos Acosta, who has partnered Rojo in several productions, including Romeo and Juliet, once attested to the ballerina's perseverance, saying she had "no sense of pain or exhaustion".


Rojo took over at the English National Ballet two years ago, shortly before her 38th birthday.

Since then, she has overhauled its programme with a new production of Le Corsaire, and a bold, contemporary season of works inspired by World War One.

One of those, Akram Khan's Dust, was performed at Glastonbury; while earlier this year, Rojo announced a triple-bill dedicated to female choreography for the ballet's 2015/16 season.

Image caption Rojo's many roles have included the Odette/Odile in Swan Lake

The ballerina, who is a judge on the BBC Young Dancer award, has previously spoken of her desire to create a legacy.

"I hope to inspire a whole new generation of dancers that will in turn become teachers, choreographers and managers themselves," she told the Telegraph last year.

"I think you can really transform attitudes both for the audience and the artists and therefore you can grow a healthy, productive and interesting art form."

Rojo is also a strong believer in government subsidies for the arts - which she says are necessary for companies to take creative "gambles".

She told the Radio Times it was "a shame that during the elections there is no money promised for the arts", adding: "We have proven the business case and we have proven the social case."

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