CriticalDance Forum

English National Ballet 2012
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  English National Ballet 2012

English National Ballet's performance of Derek Deane's "Strictly Gershwin" at The Coliseum is reviewed by Sarah Frater for the Evening Standard.

Evening Standard

Zoe Anderson for The Independent.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Ismene Brown reviews "Strictly Gershwin" for The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Louise Levene reviews "Strictly Gershwin" for The Telegraph.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Wayne Eagling resigns as artistic director of English National Ballet, effective in Summer 2012. Ismene Brown reports for the Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

This has come as a complete surprise: Wayne Eagling saw off a board attempt to oust him last year so I imagined his position was secure, particularly as he had the support of the dancers. ENB is a company that relies on touring for much of its revenue and in the current financial climate it has been losing money hand over fist as the cash-strapped regional punters stayed at home. This article in today’s Independent seems to confirm that Eagling had a long-term commitment to the job and that an early exit was something he wasn’t planning on: ... 37417.html

Wayne Eagling has maintained high standards during his tenure as director and in as far as he was able to, has also kept the repertoire interesting. During the London seasons it has been apparent that the company retains a sparkle that has long been lost at the Royal Ballet and their performances have been notable for the enthusiasm that pervaded the entire company together with technically high standards that most other touring outfits simply don’t match.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Further press accounts of the Eagling resignation.

Matthew Holehouse for the Telegraph.


Valerie Lawson for the Australian.


Judith Mackrell for the Guardian.


Author:  David [ Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

The official press statement gives nothing away simply saying the Eagling will step down at the end of the season on 11 August 2012, and noting his achievements during his tenure. It's hard to argue with the company when they say he has reinvigorated the Company's repertoire, in London at least. But the touring rep remains steadfastly conservative; a solid, if largely uninspiring diet of full-lengths. Of course, that is what puts bums on seats, and in this day and age, with funding cuts and all, that is hugely important. It seems that it's not only ENB where programming is affected significantly by such issues - just take a look at Birmingham Royal Ballet's 2012-3 season; not exactly exciting.

Eagling has also undoubtedly raised the standard of dance in the company too, and for that we should all be grateful.

I can certainly imagine him being rather happier in the studio being creative than in the office doing admin and paperwork. He wouldn't be the first artistic director (even in the last 12 months) to resign for just that reason. It also seems that the days of directors being in post for long spells are disappering. Change seems to be ever more frequent in dance, just as it has become in other industries.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

It has been almost a month since the news about Wayne Eagling's departure and I have to report that I have never known quite such a reaction from the London ballet goers. Blind fury best sums up the mood of the people that have contacted me over this. I knew Eagling was a popular director but it seems he has a small army of vociferous supporters that are furious over his leaving ENB and I have to say that it is a catastrophe for both the company in particular and British ballet in general. Press articles leave me in little doubt that this situation is all the fault of the bunch of amateurs that make up the board of ENB, What a shame they could not have been persuaded to resign instead of Wayne Eagling.

Author:  Soutenu [ Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Yes, Cassandra, I agree absolutely not only with your assessment of Wayne Eagling as a popular director but especially with your concern about the future of ENB. The company is in great shape, every year we as ballet lovers enjoy interesting new programmes created by this Artistic Direcor.
Why this successful AD, who obviously loves and enjoys his job, should depart long before he reached the age of retirement? Why no explanation is given of his “resignation”?
If Wayne Eagling made this decision voluntarily, why a celebratory gala has not been announced by the board of directors as a way of thanking him for his achievments?
If his departure is not voluntary, why the board of directors doesn’t explain publicly to the paying ballet-goers and the taxpayers who support the company - the reason for the forced resignation of this valuable leader of the company?
In my view, the Directors owe us this explanation. I personally would like to hear it.

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Soutenu wrote:
If Wayne Eagling made this decision voluntarily, why a celebratory gala has not been announced by the board of directors as a way of thanking him for his achievments? quote]

That is a very valid observation Soutenu, it is tradititional to celebrate the achievements of out going directors (a lot of achievements in Wayne Eagling's case) but this tradition isn't being observed in this instance. Strange isn't it?

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Ismene Brown reviews the Ballets Russes program ("Firebird," "L'apres-midi d'un faune" and "The Rite of Spring") for the Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Neil Norman reviews the same program for The Stage.

The Stage

Zoe Anderson reviews the same program for the Independent.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Jeffrey Taylor reviews the "Beyond Ballets Russes" program for the Sunday Express.

Sunday Express

Luke Jennings reviews the same program for The Observer.


Clement Crisp reviews the same program for the Financial Times.

Financial Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Jenny Gilbert reviews "Beyond Ballets Russes" for the Independent.


Author:  David [ Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

Beyond Ballets Russes I
(Firebird, L’après midi d’un faun, Faun(e), The Rite of Spring)
English National Ballet
London Coliseum; March 20, 2012

David Mead

English National Ballet has long been known for its popular productions of the classics, but under the leadership of Wayne Eagling, London audiences at least have been treated to some innovative and exciting mixed programmes often featuring new or little seen works. Last week’s first programme in their Beyond Ballets Russes season was a classic example and one the Coliseum audience lapped up. All told, it makes artistic director Wayne Eagling’s forthcoming departure intriguing to say the least.

New versions of “Firebird” are almost as rare as the mythical beast. Rather sensibly, and it has to be said rather bravely, young choreographer George Williamson decided to abandon pretty much everything from the well-known Fokine ballet save Stravinsky’s score, preferring to go for something completely new.

The programme notes referred to humankind thinking it can control nature as it pushes the world’s resources and environment to the limit. I assume that the Firebird represents nature, and that the plucking of her feathers by the Lead Celebrity and Army Captain is supposed to reflect the rape of the natural world by man. Later, and in a very dramatic and impressive moment, nature is finally devoured by the hoard as the she leaps into a mass of bodies, before, and in a sign of hope, she reappears, reborn and held high above the throng as the curtain falls. It has to be said, though, that such meaning gets lost almost immediately and would be nigh on impossible to decipher if it wasn’t for the programme.

Williamson’s “Firebird” is, though, a more than watchable ballet. His neo-classical choreography fits very neatly with Stravinsky’s score, and there is plenty of interest. His handling of groups of dancers is impressive, although Ksenia Ovsyanick’s Firebird gets all the best steps. A special mention too for David Bamber’s retro, comic-book, sci-fi designs that place proceedings at some indeterminate date in the future. Williamson only graduated from the ENB School in 2010, and while “Firebird” has its issues, there’s more than enough here to make you want to see more of his work.

Nijinksy’s “L’Après-midi d’un Faun” was most disappointing. Dmitri Gruzdyev in particular struggled to get to grips with the highly stylised choreography, looking rather uptight and all together too princely; indeed anything but an adolescent coming to terms with his sexual desires. Mind you, it was all so gloomily lit, it’s a wonder he saw Elena Glurdjidze and the other nymphs anyway.

Far more pleasing was David Dawson’s “Faun(e)”, performed to a piano version of the same score played live on stage, and here danced by two men, although as the title suggests, it can also be danced to two women. An older man dances to the music; steps, it seems, coming from nowhere but his own imagination. He is joined by a younger man, who he leads, and who eventually takes on the lead role as the former slips into the background. It is a total contrast to the Nijinsky: a stripped back stage, well-lit, simply costumed, and full of flowing, sinuous dance that comes with such ease.

The programme closed with Kenneth MacMillan’s “The Rite of Spring”, with new designs by Kinder Aggugini. Like Williamson’s “Firebird” it had a rather futuristic feel about it, helped along by the dancers black costumes with deep red blocks that make them look like an alien army, each with their lungs transposed to the outside of their bodies. The corps were quite stunning, dancing with urgency and a great sense of togetherness. Even when all 48 of them were doing the same thing it was impossible to spot a single one even half a second out of step. But it is the diminutive Erina Takahashi as the Chosen One who sticks in the memory most, he tiny body shaking with intensity, and probably a certain amount of exhaustion, as she pushes to her inevitable end..

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: English National Ballet 2012

I WONDER what John Talbot, Chairman of ENB’s Board of Governors, saw in front of him on the Coliseum stage last Thursday? It was certainly not what I saw, a company clearly head and shoulders above the almost fatal artistic and financial morass inherited from previous directors.
Talbot must have missed the revitalised dancers, the discipline, the honest commitment, the sky-high production values; even the ENB orchestra played like a dream. Not to mention an audience going wild with excess enthusiasm.
The restoration of these thrilling, audience-pleasing qualities has taken ENB back to the excellence we dance lovers adore and respect.
However, what planet was John Talbot occupying on the opening night of their current London season, a brilliant and exciting affair?
He had already dismissed artistic director Wayne Eagling, the man responsible for the inspiration and guts we celebrated last week. Since his appointment nearly seven years ago, Eagling has salvaged the company from almost certain liquidation.
As the audience repeatedly rose to its feet around him, did the question “why?” never cross Talbot’s mind? Rumour has it that Chairman Talbot tried to rid himself of Eagling at the end of last year, but the dancers said no. This time an allegedly surprise manoeuvre succeeded. Mystifying.

In his excellent review of ENB’s ‘Beyond Ballet Russe’Programme (full review here: ... nal-Ballet ) Jeffrey Taylor nails the problem facing ENB. He also confirms the rumours that Wayne Eagling didn’t jump – he was pushed.

It is John Talbot who should be sacked and Wayne Eagling reinstated forthwith.

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