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Wendy Ellis Somes (born December 6th, 1951) is a former principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet in London, England, and is now a worldwide producer of the Sir Frederick Ashton ballets Cinderella and Symphonic Variations.

She was born as Wendy Rose Ellis in Blackburn, and received her early training at the Carlotta School of Dance, later winning a British Ballet Organisation scholarship. In 1963 she was selected to study at the Royal Ballet School, and moved to London with her parents to continue training. She started there in 1963 and joined the Royal Ballet in 1970.


Early career at the Royal Ballet[edit]

Initially part of the corps de ballet, Ellis quickly progressed to solo roles such as Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty, the Young Girl in Ashton's The Two Pigeons and Lise in another Ashton ballet, La fille mal gardée. It was during this time that she met and fell in love with her future husband Michael Somes.

Ellis later danced many leading roles in Royal Ballet productions, notably ballets by Ashton (Cinderella, La fille mal gardée, Symphonic Variations, The Dream, Enigma Variations, A Month in the Country, Façade) and Sir Kenneth MacMillan (Romeo and Juliet, Mayerling, Gloria), with the role of Princess Stephanie in Mayerling [1] , and her role in Gloria [2] , created for her by MacMillan. She retired from dancing in 1990.

Career as a ballet producer[edit]

After retiring, Ellis began to work more closely with Somes on ballet production. Somes and Ashton had been friends and collaborators since before World War II in 1939, and Somes had staged many of Ashton's ballets [3] at the Royal Ballet and elsewhere after his retirement from classical dancing in 1961 (he continued in character roles for a number of years after). Ashton bequeathed his Cinderella and Symphonic Variations to Somes on his death in 1988. Ellis and Somes together staged Cinderella with the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm, and Symphonic Variations with American Ballet Theatre [4] in New York. Somes subsequently willed his Ashton ballets to Ellis, and they passed to her on his death in 1994.[5] Ellis has since produced Ashton's Cinderella with the New National Theatre [6] in Tokyo, the Royal Ballet itself [7] (creating a new production with designers Toer van Schayk [8][9] and Christine Haworth [10] ), the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago [11] and Los Angeles [12] , the Polish National Ballet [13] in Warsaw, and Ballet West [14] in Salt Lake City. She has also produced Symphonic Variations with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, the Royal Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet [15] in San Francisco, the Birmingham Royal Ballet [16][17] at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London and Sarasota Ballet [18][19] in Sarasota, Florida.


Ellis was part of the 1978 South Bank Show television documentary [20] about Mayerling.

At the invitation of Margot Fonteyn, Ellis featured in the 1979 BBC Television series "The Magic of Dance" [21] hosted by Fonteyn, performing Lise in an excerpt from Ashton's La fille mal gardée.

Ellis also appeared as an interviewee in the 2005 Tony Palmer film about Fonteyn, entitled "Margot".


  • "The music is what inspired me to dance, and it always comes first"
  • "The steps are only a means to an end. It's the quality that's important" [22]


  1. ^ "Kenneth MacMillan, Mayerling". 
  2. ^ "Kenneth MacMillan, Gloria". 
  3. ^ Jane Simpson (30 September 1997). "Michael Somes". Ballet magazine. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Symphonic Variations". Ballet Theater Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Anna Kisselgoff (26 November 1994). "Michael Somes, 77, Ballet Star and Longtime Fonteyn Partner". NY Times. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "NNT Cinderella Dec 2012". NNT. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "ROH Cinderella Production and Wendy Ellis Somes". ROH. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Toer van Schayk on NL Wikipedia". NL Wikipedia. 
  9. ^ "Toer van Schayk biography". Het Nationale Ballet. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  10. ^ "Christine Haworth". Crysalis. 
  11. ^ "Cinderella, Joffrey Ballet". Joffrey. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Debra Levine (24 January 2010). "Joffrey Ballet to perform Cinderella in LA". LA times. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Cinderella ballet dances back into Poland". Warsaw Business Journal. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  14. ^ Kathy Adams (8 February 2013). "Ballet West: Creating a new version of the classic 'Cinderella'". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Renee Renouf (14 February 2004). "Wendy Ellis Somes interview". Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  16. ^ Graham Watts (21 October 2011). "Birmingham Royal Ballet in Autumn Glory:Checkmate/Symphonic Variations/Pineapple Poll at Sadler's Wells". Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Dixon, Mike; Weiss, Deborah (2011). Kauldhar, Emma Manning, ed. "Checkmate Symphonic Variations Pineapple Poll". Dance Europe. London: Dance Europe (157). ISSN 1359-9798.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  18. ^ Anna Dearing (20 November 2012). "Dance Review: Symphonic Variations, There Where She Loves and Company B". Observer Group. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  19. ^ "Sarasota Ballet". 
  20. ^ "The South Bank Show: MacMillan's Mayerling". BFI. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "The Magic of Dance, part 5, The magnificent beginning". Worldcat. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  22. ^ Carrie Seidman (9 November 2012). "From dancer to dancer, a ballet is preserved". Sarasota Herald Tribune. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 

Related Links[edit]