Eagling's departure coincides with a time when questions are being raised by playwrights David Hare and Mark Ravenhill about the role of subsidised theatre companies. They believe such organisations should always prioritise creative risk-taking over installing bums on seats. In ballet, too, such questions need to be asked; both as a matter of artistic principle and because the issue of creativity can impact so crucially and cruelly on dancers. Unlike most actors, classical dancers often spend years with one company; there can be few members of ENB who imagined that their long years of training would lead to them performing on a current narrow treadmill. Tchaikovsky and Gershwin are both great composers. But they're not the stuff of a rounded dance career.
Mr Eagling, 61, did not give a reason for his departure and said it had been a "privilege to work with such a wonderful group of dancers and ballet staff".
But fourteen months ago he told the Daily Telegraph he feared Arts Council cuts and a reduction of ENB funding of around half a million pounds would harm the company's work.
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.