British ballet is making a habit of mysterious departures. A month after rising star Sergei Polunin shocked the Royal Ballet by exiting stage left, for reasons that remain best known to himself, it emerged that the artistic director of the English National Ballet (ENB) is also set to leave, without giving any indication why.
Wayne Eagling, whose profile soared following the recent screening of a behind-the-scenes documentary about the ENB, has headed the company for almost seven years. He will leave at the end of its season in August.
The ENB refused to elaborate on the reasons behind the move, saying only it was by "mutual consent". Eagling himself went to ground and could not be reached for comment beyond an official line that it had been "a privilege to work with such a wonderful group of dancers and ballet staff". His is the second major departure for the ENB, which was set up in 1950, after managing director Craig Hassall left last month.
John Talbot, chairman of the ENB, said the artistic director's contribution had been "outstanding", adding it had been "a time of tremendous achievement for the company. We look forward to working with him on many projects in the future."
In an interview with The Independent in December 2010, Eagling suggested he would be at the ENB for at least a decade and possibly more. He said after five years at the company "my contract runs out in another five years officially. Then it's up to them. If I'm still stimulated and I haven't made too many mistakes then I wouldn't necessarily stop because it was the end of a contract."
He did indicate some frustration with the job, though.
"There's a lot of time spent on the things I'm not particularly enamoured with. Office stuff. I'd much rather be in the studio choreographing or coaching."