Muntagirov quits English National Ballet to become the youngest male principal at the Royal Ballet

When Wayne Eagling was artistic director of English National Ballet he feared that the young dancer he mentored, Vadim Muntagirov, would be poached by Kevin McKenzie, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre.

Instead, the Russian dancer has quit ENB to join the Royal Ballet, a happy moment for that company after a bad spell which has seen the departure of Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg and now the soloist, Dawid Trzensimiech, who is leaving the Royal next month to become a principal at the National Romanian Ballet directed by Cojocaru’s fiance, Johan Kobborg.

The news of Muntagirov’s departure was reported in The Telegraph by Anita Singh who wrote that “Muntagirov’s first Royal Ballet performance will be on March 25 as Prince Florimund in The Sleeping Beauty, partnering Akane Takada. He will also appear in Christopher Wheedon’s new full-length ballet, The Winter’s Tale, which opens in April”.

Muntagirov will become the seventh male principal at the Royal Ballet – and, at 23, the youngest.

Vadim joined English National Ballet in 2009, when he graduated from the Royal Ballet School. He rapidly climbed the ranks from first artist to first soloist and to a lead principal in 2012.

A new year always brings action on decisions that have been brewing. Although Muntagirov had a successful and artistically fulfilling partnership with Daria Klimentova at ENB, at 42, her retirement may be not that far away. Also, as Muntagirov has acknowledged, there’s the touring factor. The tours through England by ENB are strenuous and far from glamorous.

The recent ENB production of Le Corsaire opened at Milton Keynes Theatre before touring to Southampton, Oxford, Bristol, back to London with a final season at Manchester next month.

(For an even less enticing itinerary it’s hard to go past the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Every year it splits into two touring groups that cover provincial cities and towns, this year Shrewsbury, Durham, Buxton, Cheltenham, Poole, Truro, and High Wycombe.)

Muntagirov’s departure means there are only three male principals at ENB, Zdenek Konvalina, a principal since 2011, Arionel Vargas, who joined the company in 2004 and Dmitri Gruzdyev, who has been a principal for the remarkably long time of 20 years.

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