Somes, Michael

Somes, Michael
▪ 1995

      British ballet dancer (b. Sept. 28, 1917, Horsley, Gloucestershire, England—d. Nov. 18/19, 1994, London, England), was associated with the Royal Ballet for over 50 years and was considered the guardian of Sir Frederick Ashton's works, but he was best remembered for his 11-year partnership with Dame Margot Fonteyn. His affiliation with the Royal Ballet began when he was awarded (1934) the first scholarship ever given to a male by the school of the Vic-Wells Ballet, the company that—after first having changed its name to the Sadler's Wells Ballet—became (1956) the Royal Ballet. He joined the company in 1935. Somes possessed a musicality and sensitivity that soon took him from the corps to solo parts and, in 1938, to his first leading role—the Young Boy in Ashton's Horoscope—which was also his first partnership of Fonteyn. A serious injury during military service in World War II threatened his career, but he returned to the company and over the years created roles in some 30 ballets, including Symphonic Variations (1946), Cinderella (1948), Daphnis and Chloë (1951), and Ondine (1958). From 1950 to 1961 Somes was Fonteyn's official partner, his strength and noble sensitivity perfectly accompanying her precise characterizations and technique. He retired as premier danseur in 1961 but continued to perform in such character parts as Lord Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, the Emperor Franz Joseph in Mayerling, and, notably, Armand's father in Marguerite and Armand, which starred Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. From 1963 to 1970 Somes was assistant director of the Royal Ballet, under Ashton's directorship, and until his retirement in 1984 he was the company's principal teacher. Somes was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1959 and in 1981 received the Queen Elizabeth II award from the Royal Academy of Dancing.

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▪ British dancer
in full  Michael George Somes  
born Sept. 28, 1917, Horsely, Gloucestershire, Eng.
died Nov. 18, 1994, London
 English dancer, premier danseur and assistant director of the Royal (Royal Ballet) (formerly Sadler's Wells) Ballet. His extensive repertoire included leading roles, frequently as Margot Fonteyn's (Fonteyn, Dame Margot) partner, in both classical and contemporary ballets.

      In 1934 Somes received the first scholarship given to a male by the Sadler's Wells School, and in 1935 he joined the ballet company. By 1937 he was appearing in solo parts; his first major creation was in Frederick Ashton's Horoscope (1938). After serving in World War II, he returned to create additional important roles in ballets choreographed by Ashton, including Symphonic Variations (1946), Cinderella (1948), Daphnis and Chloë (1951), Tiresias (1951), and Ondine (1958). He also performed in such classical ballets as Swan Lake, Giselle, and The Sleeping Beauty.

      In 1950 Somes succeeded Robert Helpmann as Margot Fonteyn's official partner, and in 1959 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. After retiring as premier danseur (1961), he became assistant director of the Royal Ballet in 1963 and appeared in pantomime roles such as the Father in Marguerite and Armand (1963). Leaving his assistant directorship in 1970, he remained with the Royal Ballet as its principal teacher until 1984.

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