Jump to content

Letter of protest against Wayne Eagling's resignation (Dancing Times)


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 132
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Mmm, I thought that. There's nothing wrong with objecting to the loss of a Director so I wonder why the authors would feel the need to hide behind anonymity? Why not just write saying how sad it is for the company and ask if anything can be done?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been wondering who should take over from Wayne Eagling since his resignation was announced a few weeks ago. The post of AD at ENB must be one of the most difficult ones in the ballet world. ENB's position as the poorer younger sister of the RB with a requirement to tour makes it difficult to balance the need to make money with the need to keep its dancers happy with interesting repertoire.

 

I have to admit that I was shocked by the monstrous ego (and poor time management) shown by WE when he was choreographing The Nutcracker in the Agony and Ecstasy programme. Notwithstanding this, IMO he has some positive attributes and has been successful in a number of ways. As a former principal dancer and free spirit he seems to understand the needs and frustrations of young (particularly male) dancers. He has brought some very good young talent into the company and given them opportunities to develop as dancers. He has put on some interesting repertoire eg Roland Petit, the Beyond Ballets Russes programmes and Suite en Blanc while recognising the need to balance the books. He has been innovative in trying to bring in new audiences; the recent Tate residency, the ballets for children and the Flawless collaboration are recent examples. I'm sure that some people do not approve of these types of projects but I support them as long as the company continues to perform the classical repertoire at a high standard, which I believes that it does

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have no inside knowledge whatever on ENB but, if the Board is indeed as described, the anonymous approach taken here is unlikely to have much effect and will presumably be ignored accordingly. The authors clearly wanted to get this off their chests but, as a matter of practical politics, I'd have thought that some 5 or 6 of the most senior or better-known of them would have put their names to it, adding "and xx others," the sort of thing frequently done in letters to the Times, for example. And, of course, had they written to a major broadsheet, there would be little likelihood of the letter being published without some signatories fronting up publicly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yee-ouch. I quite agree with Graham Watt's references on the site to the "OTT comments", and even to much of the tone in places, but think I would support the general gist. As for remaining anonymous, well, presumably Dancing Times still requires details signatories to letters before it will publish them (remember the days when it, and/or Dance and Dancers, used to print people's full addresses as well as their name?!), but I suppose it might have been impracticable to print all the names, and you can't really pick some and not others. After all, when you don't have your own publication to express your views in, the "trade press" is probably the best place to do it.

 

Hello, MAB: good to see another "blast from the past". Oddly enough, only a few days ago I was driving through the area where you (used to?) live, and thought "we haven't heard from MAB in ages", and now here you are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have no inside knowledge whatever on ENB but, if the Board is indeed as described, the anonymous approach taken here is unlikely to have much effect and will presumably be ignored accordingly. The authors clearly wanted to get this off their chests but, as a matter of practical politics, I'd have thought that some 5 or 6 of the most senior or better-known of them would have put their names to it, adding "and xx others," the sort of thing frequently done in letters to the Times, for example. And, of course, had they written to a major broadsheet, there would be little likelihood of the letter being published without some signatories fronting up publicly.

 

Any dancers from ENB putting their names to this might well jeopardize their future careers. Also, important as the issue may seem to ballet lovers, it is unlikely that a letter to the press would get printed. Personally I'm grateful that there are people out there prepared to take a stand over this regardless of whether they remain anonymous or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello, MAB: good to see another "blast from the past". Oddly enough, only a few days ago I was driving through the area where you (used to?) live, and thought "we haven't heard from MAB in ages", and now here you are.

 

Thanks Alison, nice to be remembered and no, I haven't moved.

 

Since reading the Dancing Times letter, I've been inspired to send a letter in a similar vein to the Arts Council: it was not anonymous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And I meant to finish by saying that IMO WE is leaving the company in good shape considering everything. I don't know if it will be good for ENB if WE moves on. That depends on whether the ENB board can find someone "better" to replace him, whatever that means. Only time will tell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Any dancers from ENB putting their names to this might well jeopardize their future careers. Also, important as the issue may seem to ballet lovers, it is unlikely that a letter to the press would get printed. Personally I'm grateful that there are people out there prepared to take a stand over this regardless of whether they remain anonymous or not.

 

Yes, I was thinking about this earlier and wondered if some of the people involved are ENB dancers. My first instinct is to think that the dancers as a body aren't behind it, because I think they would probably ask for a meeting with management, but if one or two individual dancers have signed the letter then it could indeed jeopardise their careers, in which case I'm not surprised at the request for anonymity.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not convinced that public criticism of the ENB board (and petitions and individual letters to The Arts Council) will be helpful to the ENB dancers and staff. If a grant-giving body believes that an organisation is dysfunctional it may decide to withdraw the grant altogether and fund other organisations instead. It would have been better if the authors of this letter had asked for a private meeting with the board to discuss their concerns but perhaps they have tried this approach already and have not got anywhere. We don't know who the authors are. If they are major donors they would obviously have more influence than a group of dancers and ballet-lovers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting to see that those behind the letter had so little belief in their convictions that they refused to put their names to it.

 

My 2p as an individual...

 

Its a very poor show when people want to heavily criticise others but don't have the guts to publicly and clearly stand behind their views and be properly accountable for them.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As for remaining anonymous, well, presumably Dancing Times still requires details signatories to letters before it will publish them (remember the days when it, and/or Dance and Dancers, used to print people's full addresses as well as their name?!), but I suppose it might have been impracticable to print all the names, and you can't really pick some and not others.

 

Perfectly easy to publish all the names on the web page under the letter. If necessary the hardcopy edition could direct people to the web page to see the names.

 

A gutless carry-on.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that anonymous letters are not 'good'. I also accept that some of the contents of this letter are abusive and not helpful.

 

That said - I agree with what the letter says about Wayne Eagling and his 'resignation' from ENB.

 

Let us try to separate the issue of anononous letters from the issue of Wayne Eagling's departure from ENB.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am glad to see that the letter in the Dancing Times, as OTT as it is, has provoked discussion about the sacking of Wayne Eagling. I can confirm that the board tried to sack him last summer but, when the dancers and ballet staff heard what was about to happen, they confronted John Talbot en masse and the Board had to back down. I myself sent John a letter (signed) in support of Wayne and his response ended “please rest assured that neither I nor the Board would take any action that we were not convinced was in the long term interest of English National Ballet. As you will now be aware, Wayne continues as our Artistic Director.” I was therefore shocked by the announcement in February that Wayne was leaving. This time, he was sacked and gagged (presumably told he would lose his severance package if he talked) before the company had any inkling of it and therefore the ballet staff and dancers had no chance to protest although I know the ballet staff have since then written letters in support of him and have tried unsuccessfully to organise meetings with the board. The unseemly haste of the closing date for applications (ten days after the announcement) seems to suggest that the board had no intention of letting Wayne remain in post and were negotiating with his successor before he had even been given his notice.

 

I should at this point state that I am the custodian of Mary Skeaping’s “Giselle” and had the privilege of spending most of the 2009/2010 season with the company so I can talk of my personal experience of working with Wayne and seeing how he directs the company.

 

From that experience, I have been impressed by the continued improvement in artistic and technical excellence of the dancers at all levels in the company and I think that was showcased in the recent performances of “Rite of Spring”. Indeed, two former members of the Royal Ballet were at the Saturday matinee and both agreed that the Royal Ballet never danced it with the commitment shown by ENB. I have also been impressed by Wayne’s promotion of talent at all levels within the company (multiple casts of all solo roles in “Giselle”), including taking the risk of giving Albrecht to Vadim Mutagirov in his first three months with the company, straight out of the Royal Ballet School. It was also Wayne’s inspired decision to partner him with Daria Klimentova when his original partner was injured and we all know what an exciting partnership that has become. During the “Giselle” tour, Wayne would often be called back to London for administrative/budget meetings taking him away from the rehearsal room where he excels, especially in coaching partnering work. For me, I was very grateful for his total support in restoring the dramatic element, especially in Act I of “Giselle”, something Mary Skeaping was insistent upon although she did not always get it. Wayne also realised that a whole season of “Giselle” was not challenging enough for the men in the company, even though they have much more to do than in any other production. He therefore created “Men Y Men” to showcase their talent at all levels. I must have seen at least 60 rehearsals and performances of this work and it never failed to mesmerise me and showed a level of excellence in male dancing unequalled in the company’s history. As with “Resolution”, the creative process was slow and painful but that is how Wayne works and the dancers have come to accept it, knowing that the finished product will be worth it.

 

I note Aileen’s comment about the monstrous ego shown in the Agony & Ecstasy programme but one has to remember that a year’s filming was edited to provide ‘interesting’ television and that we saw only a tiny bit of ’Nutcracker’ rehearsals which had been going on for several months. (Rehearsals of “Giselle” were filmed but not used as nothing controversial ever happened in them.) Here we saw Wayne at his absolute worst and, by theatre standards, it was actually pretty tame. In his defence, he was frustrated at the whole Nutcracker saga. It had originally been scheduled for 2009 but the Board got cold feet at the thought of spending money (on a ballet guaranteed to have sell-out performances at the Coliseum!) and the project was ditched in favour of another run of the Hampson production. In 2010, he was given the go-ahead but not at the budget required to reproduce his Dutch National Ballet production so a lot of it had to be reworked and redesigned. It seems rather shameful to me that the Dutch were willing to spend more money on a sure-fire hit than the ENB board. As it was, he managed to come up with a admirable production, even if it was finished at the 11th hour.

 

What people outside the company are perhaps not aware of is how amenable Wayne is to letting dancers at all levels in the company guest all over the world. This keeps morale high and enhances the reputation of ENB, something of which I had personal experience when “Giselle” was staged for me in Japan by the extremely talented Yuri Uchiumi with Fabian Reimair guesting as Albrecht at extremely short notice (replacing an injured Japanese dancer) which meant rejigging the ENB casting for that week. In fact, I would describe Wayne as a very affable person, easy to talk to (witness the fact that members of the audience feel able to have a chat with him in the intervals), and there is no question of any type of impropriety, such as bullying, on his part. He has had a few run-ins with dancers but which Artistic Director has not? It is to his credit that very few dancers have left the company in the last seven years through disgruntlement. He has galvanised the company repertoire with classics such as “Manon” and the Roland Petit programme but I feel he has been let down by the poor marketing of these ballets, especially outside London.

 

In my perfect world, an Artistic Director should be allowed to do what he does best, i.e. create wonderful performances, with the support of a knowledgeable Board and a very strong administrator/general manager to deal with the day to day running of the company and funding.

 

With all these points in his favour, I wonder what the Board actually wants in an Artistic Director. I do feel that the timing of his sacking showed a total insensitivity on the part of the Board towards artistic matters: the company was in the middle of rehearsing six major works for the Coliseum season including two completely new pieces, one of which is by Wayne himself. It is to their credit that Wayne, the ballet staff and all the dancers have risen above this kick in the teeth and have given magnificent performances with more to come.

 

In my perfect world, an Artistic Director should be allowed to do what he does best, i.e. create wonderful performances, with the support of a knowledgeable Board and a very strong administrator/general manager to deal with the day to day running of the company and funding.

 

I fully intend to write a similar signed letter to newspapers and magazines but I expect it will have to be severely curtailed if I want any chance of it being published. I am therefore grateful to this forum for the chance to offer my thoughts in full and I will be interested in the response of other members.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Irmgard, I am really pleased to see your response to the letter in the Dancing Times as you obviously know ENB well. Apart from what I saw as a shortcoming in Wayne Eagling (not giving the dancers enough time to rehearse because he was so late in finishing the choreography) I agree with the points which you make in his favour, most of which I had mentioned in my post. I should also add that, although WE seems to enjoy choreographing, he does not insist that all new choreography is done by him and neither has he fallen into the trap of wanting to put on (his own) new choreography and re-choreographed classics all the time at the expense of the acknowledged classics. There is a good balance between old and new choreography.

 

It must be very hard for the dancers to cope with all this controversy and uncertainty but they are not letting this show. I have seen Programme 1 twice and enjoyed it tremendously. I thought that it was a very well thought out programme and Rite, with its new costumes, tremendous dancing and really superb playing by the orchestra, was a tour de force. I found it more exciting than the RB's last year and I thought that the new costumes improved the work particularly the hair pieces which made the dancers look more human rather than insect-like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I can't believe how little interest in this topic there is on this forum (apart from people tut-tutting about anonymous letters). No-one seems to have gone to see the Beyond Ballets Russes programme either. I conclude from this that, with a few exceptions, most of the members are only interested in the RB. If this letter had been written about the RB I'm sure that there would have been dozens if not hundreds of responses. Is this site actually for RB supporters and I hadn't realised it? If there is a site for ENB supporters perhaps someone will point me in the right direction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aileen, I'm glad you noticed that Wayne doesn't insist on all new choreography being his - I actually made that point in my letter to John Talbot last year (fortunate to have an AD "who is not intent on flooding the repertoire with his own productions")! Hence he doesn't have the monster ego of some former directors of the company!

I agree that the new costumes for 'Rite' allow us to see the humanity of the dancers and actually clarify a lot of the choreography - the section where they lie on the floor while the Chosen One dances through them looks particularly stunning with the bare limbs against the black costumes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe everyone should tut about anonymous letters. On the old ballet.co my tag was my initials but my signature was my full name. My full name is now shown on postings for full accountability.

 

I haven't seen the Ballet Russes programmes because I had booked for BRB before I realised they were on and it is not a cheap undertaking to travel to London with the possible requirement for overnight stays. Sadly ENB no longer tour their mixed programmes to the provinces.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Irmgard

 

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the circumstances of Wayne Eagling's departure from ENB we will never get the full story from all sides. I am sure that many will agree with you that he has done many good things for the company and are puzzled and upset by what has happened.

 

I am glad that you acknowledge your professional links to ENB. I am however slightly surprised that, whether by oversight or not, you did not append your name to the posting, especially in view of earlier comments here about the anonymous writers of the Dancing Times letter and your stated intent to write to the papers under your own name.

 

Your posting is very critical of the ENB board's decision. Our stated policy is "If a member chooses to make highly critical comments this must be done in their own name and not behind an anonymous user name and email address."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I can't believe how little interest in this topic there is on this forum (apart from people tut-tutting about anonymous letters). No-one seems to have gone to see the Beyond Ballets Russes programme either. I conclude from this that, with a few exceptions, most of the members are only interested in the RB. If this letter had been written about the RB I'm sure that there would have been dozens if not hundreds of responses. Is this site actually for RB supporters and I hadn't realised it? If there is a site for ENB supporters perhaps someone will point me in the right direction.

Aileen, It seems to me that there are two problems here. First as regards the Eagling departure we may all raise our eyebrows, write him a testimonial or whatever but very few have anything more than speculation to offer. Second, as regards "no-one" posting about the Ballets Russes programme, I think the problem is that most of the members here don't post. They may see things but then don't have the time, confidence or inclination to post about them. I would hate to think that this a "Royal Ballet only" site. My own experience of people who see ballet in London is that they will gobble up anything, as I do myself: RB, BRB, ENB, Northern, Scottish, any visiting ballet company. We would also hope that people who see performances abroad will tell us about them. As this is a site of information exchange I would hope that more members will voice their thoughts. The ENB Ballets Russes thread is here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, you are one of the few people on the site that actually uses his real name. There is a lot of very critical comment on this forum and yet I have never seen anyone asked to give his/her real name. Do you ask members who have a close personal connection with schools and companies to declare it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, I can't believe how little interest in this topic there is on this forum (apart from people tut-tutting about anonymous letters). No-one seems to have gone to see the Beyond Ballets Russes programme either. I conclude from this that, with a few exceptions, most of the members are only interested in the RB. If this letter had been written about the RB I'm sure that there would have been dozens if not hundreds of responses. Is this site actually for RB supporters and I hadn't realised it? If there is a site for ENB supporters perhaps someone will point me in the right direction.

 

I wouldn't call 23 posts since yesterday "little interest", to be fair. This site is for ALL lovers of ballet, whether one has a favourite company or not. I try to spend what precious little money I have spare equally between ENB and RB, but ENB gets the lion's share, because the Coli gives a better discount for disabled people.

 

However, at the moment money is horribly tight, as I'm sure it is for many people. That doesn't mean people aren't interested in ENB. And nobody should feel obliged to justify what they spend their money on, nor what they post on (or don't, as the case may be).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Irmgard is my real name - it is not an anonymous username and I am very happy to give my surname as well if necessary. Apologies if I have inadvertently broken your policy rules. As regards my professional connection to ENB, please be assured that any work I did on "Giselle" was in an honorary capacity. I was only paid by the company in a freelance capacity to give pre-performance talks on "Giselle".

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

John, you are one of the few people on the site that actually uses his real name. There is a lot of very critical comment on this forum and yet I have never seen anyone asked to give his/her real name. Do you ask members who have a close personal connection with schools and companies to declare it?

Aileen, For ages I posted as JohnM but I gave that up when I joined the team here. We don't have a policy about using full names apart from the policy about critical postings as quoted. If you look elsewhere (YouTube comments for instance) you'll find really nasty comments which would never be made by people under their own name. (I'm not suggesting that anything like that happens here.)

 

As for declaring an interest it very much depends what the interest is. I assume that most postings in Doing Dance come from people (mainly parents) with a close connection with one or other institution. That is understood, acknowledged and often declared. It's very evident from Irmgard's post that she has worked quite extensively with ENB and she describes her connection precisely. What we particularly want to avoid is people who are in the business either covertly touting for custom or making comments without declaring their bias. As a rather poor hypothetical example we would not be happy to see a member of the Royal Ballet making highly critical comments of an ENB production without declaring that they were in a rival company.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spannerandpony, nobody has to justify what they spend their money on or what they post on, but IMO little interest is shown in ENB on this site. Think of the vast number of posts on one dancer's (Melissa Hamilton's) recent debut, R@J and the revival of Alice at the ROH; in contrast, not one person seems to have gone to the current ENB programme apart from me. I'm not asking anyone to do anything; I'm just making what I believe to be a reasonable observation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The fact that people may not post as much about ENB as they do about RB doesn't mean they aren't interested though, nor does it mean that people don't go to see certain ballets. People might not feel knowledgeable enough to post about a ballet they've seen, but it doesn't mean they're not interested.

 

Forgive me if I sounded a little defensive, but your post did (perhaps unintentionally) have a slightly accusatory tone to it. I appreciate it's not always easy to make your tone clear in written form.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...