Wright is Founding Director Laureate of BRB
8 September 2022
Reporter: Vera Liber
Forty-five years after Sir Peter Wright was appointed Director of Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet has announced that his title will change from Director Laureate to Founding Director Laureate of the company to recognises his role moving Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, the touring company of The Royal Ballet, from London to Birmingham in 1990 and changing the company’s name.
To celebrate, BRB will perform three of the ballets that he created for Birmingham Royal Ballet in the 2022–23 season: Coppélia in Plymouth and Birmingham followed by the £1 million refurbished production of his Nutcracker in the company’s home city, and in the spring Swan Lake will tour across the UK.
He said, "I can’t wait to see the refurbished version of my Nutcracker in all its original glory, this Christmas. I made the show as a gift to the City when we moved to Birmingham. In 2020, the company had plans to mark the 30th anniversary of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s bold move to the West Midlands, so this moment feels like a delayed celebration of that to me."
Born in 1926, his mother took him to a performance of Les Sylphides when he was 16 and he decided to pursue dance as a career. After leaving home at the age of 17, he auditioned for Ninette de Valois at what is now the Royal Ballet School and was rejected, but then became an apprentice with Ballets Jooss, returning to London to study with Vera Volkova, a leading teacher of the Vaganova method, before re-auditioning for Valois, who offered him a contract to dance with the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet.
In 1955, de Valois gave Wright his first opportunity to direct, then in 1957, he received his first commission as a choreographer, creating the ballet A Blue Rose for the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1961, he went to work for John Cranko at Stuttgart Ballet, but in 1969 returned to The Royal Ballet and in 1977 was appointed Director of Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, taking the Company to Birmingham in 1990, when it became Birmingham Royal Ballet.
He was awarded a knighthood in the 1993 Queen's birthday honours list, in 1994 an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Birmingham and the Critics' Circle Award 1995 for Distinguished Services to the Arts.