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Darcey Bussell

(b. 1969)


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(b London, 27 Apr. 1969)

British dancer. She trained at the Royal Ballet School (1982–7), won the Prix de Lausanne in 1986, and joined Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet in 1987. The following year, still in the corps de ballet, she was famously chosen by Kenneth MacMillan to create the leading role in his full-length ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas. After its Covent Garden premiere, on 7 Dec. 1989 she was immediately promoted to principal. A tall, long-limbed dancer, Bussell broke the mould of the ‘traditional’ British ballerina with the athleticism and scale of her movement. Admired by audiences and critics alike, she became the first British ballerina since Fonteyn to achieve international stardom outside the dance world, thanks in part to her celebrity as a fashion model and her exposure on television. As a dancer, she was particularly acclaimed for her Aurora, Odette-Odile, and Cinderella, although she also excelled in the Balanchine repertoire and was invited several times to perform with New York City Ballet—a company considered by some to have been her natural home. In 1998 she guested with the Kirov Ballet, dancing La Bayadère with Igor Zelensky. She created roles in Bintley's Spirit of Fugue (1988), MacMillan's Prince of the Pagodas (1989) and Winter Dreams (1991), Page's Bloodlines (1990), Tharp's Mr Worldly Wise (1995), Christopher Wheeldon's Pavane pour une infante défunte (1996), Tryst (2002), and DGV (2006), and Tetley's Amores (1997), among others. In 2007 she retired from the Royal but continued to dance in occasional productions including Viva La Diva—a dance and music revue which she performed with singer Katherine Jenkins.

Subjects: Dance.


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