TV Review: Agony & Ecstasy: A Year with English National Ballet: Episode 3: BBC4, 22 Mar 2011

The Eagling has landed. Or possibly not.

Oh Wayne, you're so much nicer than Derek. Daria Klimentova and Eagling get ready for The Nutcracker.

Lurking in the wings for the previous two episodes English National Ballet’s Artistic Director and choreographer Wayne Eagling finally landed the lead role in Tuesday’s Agony & Ecstasy. A genial looking chap he ambled about the rehearsals creating choreography for his brand new production of The Nutcracker. A scientific approach it was not; he appeared to be making it up as he went along and spent a great deal of time in the car park sucking on a pipe for choreographic inspiration like some Red Indian shaman.

   Impervious to the chaos that centered on (and was mainly caused by) him he left a six minute gap unplugged until opening night and despite producing ENB’s most popular Nutcracker ever couldn’t see beyond the mechanical failures of the hot-air balloon that closed the first act. Oh the unfathomable mysteries of creativity.

   It was a strange end to the series, floating around in its own Nutcracker bubble. There was no mention of the funding crisis that had been building in the previous episodes, no summing up and no sense of the company’s future. Nevertheless Agony & Ecstasy as a whole has been entertainingly educational and, Derek Deane aside, ENB came out of it rather well; over-worked, underfunded and a bit chaotic maybe but with everyone’s hearts endearingly in the right place you can’t help but feel that the company is in good hands.

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