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May-December partnership a triumph | The Australian

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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/may-december-partn...

by: Valerie Lawson From: The Australian February 09, 2012 12:00AM

English National Ballet's Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov. Picture: John Ross. Source: Supplied AT 38, Daria Klimentova was ready to retire when she was called to Wayne Eagling's office. The artistic director of English National Ballet had some unwelcome news for the company's most senior ballerina. For the end-of-year performances at London's Coliseum, "I told her 'I want you to dance with this 18-year-old just out of the school"'. That teenager was Vadim Muntagirov, a Russian newcomer to the company and a recent graduate of the Royal Ballet School. "Daria was very offended actually," Eagling says, "but in the end it worked out really well." That's quite an understatement. The dance partnership of Muntagirov and Klimentova - now aged 40 - is being compared with the charismatic May-December pairing of Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, which added more than a decade to the career of the middle-aged ballerina. Australian audiences can see Klimentova and Muntagirov in June when they appear in Sydney with 20 other dancers of English National Ballet. The season will include Suite en Blanc, showcasing all the visitors, Balanchine's Apollo, pas de deux from Act III of Swan Lake, Don Quixote, and Manon, and Trois Gnossiennes, a work by Hans van Manen. The Australian tour is one of many overseas visits this year for Muntagirov, who rose through the ENB ranks to become a principal in two years and is in demand as a guest artist internationally. Last weekend he danced as a guest artist with American Ballet Theatre in New York and will return in May. He also will dance in Tokyo and Cape Town and there are suggestions he is ripe for head-hunting by such companies as The Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. In London late last month, Eagling said he had heard Kevin McKenzie, ABT's artistic director, offered Muntagirov a principal dancer's contract, although there are no signs he has accepted.

11/02/2012 2:16 PM


May-December partnership a triumph | The Australian

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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/arts/may-december-partn...

When Muntagirov graduated from ballet school, the Bolshoi Ballet offered him a soloist's contract but Eagling wrangled him away from Moscow, telling the young dancer: "Very few people go back to Russia. They're trying to get out of Russia. You've been offered a soloist contract but as a soloist at the Bolshoi you'll be one of 400 people. "I want you to dance Albrecht (in Giselle) at the (London) Coliseum at the end of the year." Since then, Muntagirov has danced principal roles in Swan Lake, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet and The Nutcracker and been seen by the more than four million viewers of the BBC4 program Agony and Ecstasy: a Year with English National Ballet, a fly-on-the-wall documentary in which he and Klimentova are seen being bullied by the former artistic director of ENB, Derek Deane, during a rehearsal. The verbal abuse endeared the couple even more to their audiences, who watched their stamina and composure in the face of Deane muttering such asides as "God almighty, look at her!" and "absolutely dreadful". So, was this a case of good publicity for all - except Deane? "It does help, with a star couple," Eagling says. "The media here needs some convenient tag, and Daria is very good, and she is very flirty (with the media)." Last month in London, Klimentova was also a very happy woman as she bounded to the stage to accept an award for best female dancer of 2011 at the National Dance Awards. The first person she thanked was Muntagirov, "who makes me amazing on stage. I mean, who makes me feel amazing." English National Ballet performs at the Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney, from June 8-17.

11/02/2012 2:16 PM

120209_ The Australian Valerie Lawson article 9 Feb  

AT 38, Daria Klimentova was ready to retire when she was called to Wayne Eagling's office. The artistic director of English National Ballet...