This is ‘not a conventional autobiography’ but it is a fascinating and inspiring account of 75 years of work in dance and theatre. Immensely humorous, Wright seems to have known almost everybody in the ballet world, and he conjures up vivid images of dips in the freezing January sea with Henry Danton at Eastbourne in the 1940s, Princess Margaret backstage at the Birmingham Hippodrome holding her breath to avoid the whiff from the gents’ loo, or of Michael Somes who could be ‘very difficult’, ‘particularly at full moon’.

For those of us outside the professional ballet world, the book sometimes ‘joins the dots’, and fills the gaps that other, more discreet, accounts have left in obscurity. I imagine that Wright’s colleagues and acquaintances will have looked for their names in the index with some trepidation, for he is almost as frank about the living as he is about the dead. (more…)


A chance to see live transmission of  The Royal Ballet performing at the top of its game in a great production of a major work.  Giselle is the quintessential Romantic ballet.  It transformed the dance world when it was first performed in Paris in 1841 and remains at the centre of the classical repertory.  Although choreography and designs have undergone many changes over the years, the essence of Giselle remains the same, a love affair that begins in the real world and continues beyond the grave.  Sir Peter Wright’s production for The Royal Ballet is based on Marius Petipa’s classic version (after original choreography by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli), which was first staged in St Petersburg in 1884.  The ballet’s title role offers one of the great challenges of the ballet repertory, as Giselle transforms from an innocent peasant girl, duped into love, to a forgiving spirit who saves her lover from death. For the ballerina this is a role of two contrasting halves: in Act I she must appear naïve and artless, her dancing alive with an earthy enthusiasm; in Act II she transforms into light and air, her dancing so ethereal as to seem weightless. In Wright’s production, the dual aspect of the ballet is perfectly achieved: the first act dramatized in rich, naturalistic detail and the second with a spectral, moonlit beauty.  Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov star as Giselle and Count Albrecht; designs are by John Macfarlane and the tuneful score is by Adolphe Adam.

Performance:  Wednesday 6th April 7.15pm

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford  OX2 6AE

Tickets from £8-£20

Book online here or call 0871 902 5736

Natalia Osipova’s Giselle flings us into the maelstrom of emotion that she resolves with an aura of serene compassion and unearthly forgiveness in the second act.  Her Giselle is an utterly engaging and very human young woman;  shy but passionate, fun-loving but vulnerable, and she sweeps us along with a conviction that sometimes even makes us forget that she is dancing. (more…)


In life, Sarah Lamb’s Giselle is swift and airborne with a restrained diffidence; in death, those qualities transform her into a ghostly and ethereal apparition.  As a Wili, her cool manner enhances the otherworldly feel of her dancing, although in the first act last night she did not completely convince me that she was a peasant girl driven mad by the shock of betrayal and I wasn’t quite sure that she had actually killed herself, rather than dying of a broken heart. (more…)


A chance to see The Royal Ballet in one of the most popular Romantic ballets of all time.  The story of Giselle brings together an engaging mix of human passions, supernatural forces and the transcendent power of self-sacrificing love.  The production by Sir Peter Wright catches the atmosphere of this great Romantic ballet, especially in the perfection of its second Act, with ghostly maidens drifting through the forest in spectacular patterns – one of the most famous of any scenes for the corps de ballet. Giselle dances with lightness and fragility, giving the impression of floating through the mist.  This is one of the Royal Ballet’s most loved and admired productions, faithful to the spirit of the 1841 original, yet always fresh at each revival.  This live transmission from the Royal Opera House at the Phoenix Picturehouse on Monday 27th January features the company’s new star dancer Natalia Osipova in the title role, partnered by Carlos Acosta. (more…)


The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia return to Oxford’s New Theatre for a short season 16th to 18th January. Formed in 1981, The Russian State Ballet of Siberia has quickly established itself as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and has built an international reputation for delivering performances of outstanding quality and unusual depth. The soloists and corps de ballet are superb and never fail to delight audiences with their breathtaking physical ability and dazzling costumes.

“The dancing was sharp, precise and light of foot throughout…”  Oxford Times January 2010

Monday 16th, Tuesday 17th January 7.30pm:  Giselle

The most poignant of all classical ballets combines powerful emotions and visual splendour in a chilling and heart-rending tale of love, treachery and forgiveness from beyond the grave.  The story of Giselle and her aristocratic but duplicitous lover Albrecht is set to a glorious score and brought to life by the magnificent costumes and virtuoso performances of the Russian State Ballet of Siberia.

Wednesday 18th January 2.30pm and 7.30pm: The Sleeping Beauty

Every child’s favourite fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty is the classic story of love and magic set to Tchaikovsky’s sublime score featuring stunning choreography, sumptuous costumes and wonderful sets.