Wayne Eagling departs English National Ballet

Vera Liber

The ballet world is in a state of turmoil, again. What does this augur? Sign of the economic times… creative differences? Recently Sergei Polunin upset the apple cart at the Royal Ballet (whose Artistic Director Monica Mason is retiring this summer), now comes the surprise announcement that Wayne Eagling is stepping down as Artistic Director of the English National Ballet this August. With no reasons given…

Those of you who watched the BBC documentary, Agony and Ecstasy—A Year with the English National Ballet, will know the pressures the ENB were / are under, not least the financing. Former managing director / chief executive, Craig Hassall, kept their financial balls in the air, but he left last month for greener fields—are there any?

Is Eagling, Artistic Director of ENB since 2005, leaving a sinking ship? ENB has lost 15 percent of its funding over the next three years, they have to shoulder a reduction of £700,000 this year and next, and apparently Hassall revealed that they lose £100,000 a week on tour: the financial strains are enormous.

But to lose both MD and AD with such short notice is alarming for the future of the ENB. They say their Beyond Ballets Russes programme at the London Coliseum in March will not be affected, but what then? The tensions within the company could be at breaking point.

Are they beyond redemption? One hopes not. They have a wonderful stable of young dancers. Go and get a taste of them at Tate Britain, where they will be in residence 27 February—4 March 2012, morning till evening every day, enhancing the Picasso exhibition.