Sir Peter Wright

Last updated: April 25, 2024

Sir Peter Wright

Sir Peter Wright CBE made his debut as a professional dancer with the Ballets Jooss during World War II and in the 1950s worked with several dance companies, including the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, for which he created his first ballet A Blue Rose in 1957. In 1959, he was appointed Ballet Master to the Sadler’s Wells Opera and teacher at The Royal Ballet School.

In 1961, Sir Peter went to Stuttgart as teacher and ballet master to the company being formed by John Cranko. There he choreographed several ballets, including The Mirror Walkers, Namouna, Designs for Dancers and Quintet and mounted his first production of Giselle, which he has subsequently produced for The Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and many other international companies. His other interpretations of the classics include The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker and these productions now feature regularly in opera houses throughout the world. During the 1960s, he established himself as a successful director of television ballets and choreographed various West End musicals and revues.

In 1969, Sir Peter returned to The Royal Ballet as Kenneth MacMillan’s Associate Director. In 1977, he was appointed Director of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, taking the company to Birmingham in 1990, when it became Birmingham Royal Ballet. On his retirement in 1995, he was made Director Laureate of Birmingham Royal Ballet. He received the Evening Standard Award for Ballet in 1981 and in 1985 was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). In 1990, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from London University, the University of Birmingham conferred on him the title of Special Professor of Performance Studies and he was presented with the Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dancing. In 1991, he was made a Fellow of the Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. He also won the 1991 Digital Premier Award, which he used to commission a new ballet. He was awarded a knighthood in the 1993 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, and in 1994 an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Birmingham and the Critics’ Circle Award in 1995 for Distinguished Services to the Arts. He is President of the Benesh Institute (Dance Notation) and a Vice President of the Royal Academy of Dance. Sir Peter retired in 2003 from the Governors of The Royal Ballet School after 30 years of service. He won the de Valois Award from the British National Dance Awards for the most outstanding achievement of 2004. His book Wrights & Wrongs was published by Oberon Books in 2016.

More recent productions include Swan Lake in Buenos Aires (2013), revivals of The Nutcracker by The Australian Ballet (2014, 2019), a revival of The Sleeping Beauty, designed by Philip Prowse, for the Vienna State Ballet (2014), a new production for the Hungarian National Ballet (2016), a revival of Giselle in Munich (2016) and a new production in Sarasota (2019). His choreography is incorporated in the new production of The Nutcracker for the Birmingham Royal Ballet by David Bintley at the Royal Albert Hall in London (2017, 2018 & 2019).

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