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Repertory Archive

Wendy Ellis Somes


Wendy Ellis was born in Blackburn, England. She trained with Peggy Wilson at the Carlotta School of Dance, later winning  a British Ballet Organization scholarship. In 1963 she was selected to study at the Royal Ballet School, and moved to London with her parents to continue training. She joined The Royal Ballet in 1970 and was promoted to Soloist in 1975, then Principal in 1979. Her talent was such that when still in the corps de ballet she was dancing Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, the Young Girl in The Two Pigeons and Lise in La Fille mal gardée, and later danced leading classical ballet roles such as Juliet, Aurora, Titania and Cinderella. Other roles included Fairy Spring and Autumn (Cinderella), Golden Hours in Elite Syncopations, Polka in Façade, the pas de trois and second solo in Raymonda Act III, Sunday’s Child and Tuesday’s Child in Jazz Calendar, Katia and Vera in A Month in the Country, Moyna and peasant pas de deux in Giselle, Dora Penny in Enigma Variations, Dark Elegies, the Bride in A Wedding Bouquet, Les Sylphides, My Brother, My Sister, Serenade, Monotones I, Liebeslieder Walzer and Birthday Offering. Kenneth MacMillan created Princess Stephanie in Mayerling and a role in Gloria on her and she danced in the Company premieres of Agon and Four Schumann Pieces. Margot Fonteyn invited her to dance Lise with David Wall for her 1979 BBC television series ‘The Magic of Dance’, which included footage of rehearsals with husband Michael Somes (former danseur noble and Assistant Director of The Royal Ballet). The same year, Frederick Ashton also created a role for her in his film Stories from a Flying Trunk.

After retiring in 1990, she worked closely with Somes through to 1994, staging and producing Ashton’s Symphonic Variations and Cinderella, and is now their owner and custodian.  Regarded as an important link in passing down the Ashton tradition and in much demand around the world, she has since staged these ballets in Tokyo, Stockholm, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Sarasota, Salt Lake City, Amsterdam, Warsaw and London.