Watch 'Bollywood on pointe'

Very busy - that is Tamara Rojo's brief reply to how she finds the time to fulfil her roles in English National Ballet as artistic director and lead principal dancer.

Hectic days are par for the course for the 40-year-old Spaniard, who took over the reins in 2012. Before the appointment, she was a principal dancer with the company for more than a decade.

While it is difficult to juggle both a physically demanding role and leadership of the company, she says the roles are complementary. "It gives me an insight into the everyday lives of my dancers," she says. "I know how they feel, how tired they are and how much more I can still ask from them, as I experience it myself with them."

She will be staging the company's production of Le Corsaire here at the Esplanade Theatre from Thursday to Sunday.

She will be sharing the role of harem girl Medora with fellow lead principal dancers Alina Cojocaru, Erina Takahashi and and Fernanda Oliveira.

Created by Marius Petipa for Russia's Mariinsky Ballet, which premiered it in 1863, Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling caper in which a pirate journeys across high seas to save his darling, Medora, from a storm of kidnapping and double-crossing.

This is the first full-length work that Rojo commissioned for the English National Ballet and all eyes were on her maiden production. It premiered in 2013.

She says: "When I became the company's artistic director in 2012, I wanted to introduce innovative new works into the repertoire, while continuing to honour traditional ballet. "When this production premiered, I was so thrilled by the audience's reaction and the critical acclaim."

The Financial Times called it a "roaring, madcap success". The Independent wrote that "Corsaire delivers both exotic designs and rigorous dancing, then adds a radiant performance by ballerina Alina Cojocaru". Rojo says the role of Medora is "very complicated from a choreography point of view" and adds: "It has all the technical elements of great classical repertoire and also a lot of romantic qualities."

The costumes, which were designed by Bob Ringwood of Troy and Batman fame, are a rainbow of midriff-baring teal and mauve, dripping with crystals and sequins.

The set is also laden with enough gold doubloons, chalices and chains to draw a dragon's envy, which led The Guardian's Luke Jennings to call it "visually gorgeous... Bollywood on pointe".

Rojo says: "Singapore is the first place outside of Europe that we are taking Le Corsaire to. I can't wait for the audience to experience this epic work."

This article was first published on May 12, 2015.
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