Tamara Rojo is to make the grand jeté fromleading lady to artistic director with the announcement that the Spanish ballerina has been appointed to turn around the fortunes of the under pressure English National Ballet (ENB).
Ms Rojo, a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, will replace Canadian Wayne Eagling – whose departure after seven years remains shrouded in mystery – in September.
She first came to the UK 15 years ago as a dancer with the ENB, before graduating to principal dancer. ENB chairman John Talbot said: "Her reputation was initially built here, and she has maintained contacts with the organisation."
He would still not be drawn on Mr Eagling's departure at the end of the season, but said Ms Rojo "will use her worldwide reputation and creative vision to form inspiring collaborations throughout the UK and the world." She will continue to perform in her new role, undertaking the potentially complicated feat of being at once director and dancer.
Ms Rojo, who is 37, said: "I have very fond memories of my time as a dancer with English National Ballet and nothing could make me prouder than to return to this internationally respected company, with its wonderful dancers and invaluable legacy in bringing dance to the nation."
Her first production for the ENB will be The Sleeping Beauty.