Peter Wright’s excellent autobiography (written with Paul Arrowsmith) contains loads of juicy titbits, and there is something about being 90 that apparently frees you up and permits you saw whatever you like, which at 50 you might have thought twice about… though maybe Wright wouldn’t have blinked an eyelid about saying exactly what was on his mind even then.
There is no need to read between the lines when it comes to his comments about Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko and the problem that both had with alcohol, or what he thinks about Deborah MacMillan’s modifications to his ballets.
In David Jays’ interview with Wright in today’s Sunday Times, he comes out with some more fun recollections:
I did three television productions with Margot and was always amazed by the energy she put into everything. Mind you, when I first saw her in the war, she didn’t have the warmth she got later.
Fonteyn’s warmth came from working with Frederick Ashton, according to Wright.
He used to watch her performances and rehearsals and would advise her about how to use her eyes to reach up into the amphitheatre, which is very far away. At one time, it was considered bad taste to project too much. Communication! That’s what it’s all about, even in an abstract ballet.
“It was considered bad taste to project too much…” Isn’t that culturally fascinating; so very British. Certainly Lauren Cuthbertson as his Sugar Plum Fairy this year was projecting well past Drury Lane with her alluring sparkle.
Wright lived for a while in Stuttgart, where he collaborated for a period with Cranko. He also recounts to Jays how he met Rudolf Nureyev there for the first time when he visited for a gala.
I had to look after Rudolf. Very difficult. Very difficult. He didn’t really bother to learn the dance properly, but he was very fussy about what costume he wore. To put it crudely, he liked to show off his bum.
Apparently, he refused a tunic which “went below the cheeks” for a skimpier version. Of course, what dancer doesn’t think about the effect a costume has on their proportions or lines, but Wright just has a wonderful, impish way of putting things.
Wrights and Wrongs – My Life in Dance is strongly recommended!
[A review of Wrights and Wrongs will appear here shortly]