Darcey Bussell CBE
There aren’t many ballerinas who have managed to make the leap from dance fame to worldwide celebrity. Darcey Bussell is one of the few that have.
Ever since she became the youngest ever principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet aged just 20, Bussell has captured the hearts of audiences around the world with her grace and emotion. During her career, she has performed with the New York City Ballet, the Kirov Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet, playing the lead role in both classical and contemporary productions.
Bussell’s poise and outgoing personality has seen her feature in the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, whilst her image has appeared at Madame Tussauds and the National Portrait Gallery. She has also modelled for Mulberry, Marks & Spencer, the Gold Council and De Beers Diamonds. Bussell is a patron of the National Youth Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the international Dance Teachers Association and the New English Ballet Theatre.
Awarded an OBE at the age of 25, Bussell has gone on to become one of Britain’s most popular and recognisable female personalities. Who else could entrance an audience at the Royal Opera House, then have the humour to perform in a delightfully funny sketch for the hit television comedy The Vicar of Dibley?
Although she was a relative latecomer to the world of ballet, the late choreographer Kenneth MacMillan saw something exceptional in her technique and cast her in a principal role while still a student.
Away from the stage, Bussell has used her years of Pilates training to good effect, by becoming the author of two best selling pilates and workout books and a pilates DVD. The global demand for the book was such that Penguin has published Darcey Bussell’s Pilates for Life in 6 languages.
After 18 years as the country’s favourite ballerina, Bussell's last performance was at the Royal Opera House in June 2007, fittingly in MacMillan’s ballet Song of the Earth. As always, she left the audience wanting more.
Retirement has not kept Darcey out of the limelight, her 'Viva La Diva' style show with Katherine Jenkins was an outstanding success and sold out throughout the country. Darcey has also expanded her writing career to include a series of childrens ballet books, "Magic Ballerina", and in 2011, starred in a prime time Christmas Day special on BBC2.
On Christmas Day 2011, the BBC broadcast a 90 minute programme; ‘Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood’, which saw Darcey study and re-create her favourite Hollywood dances including ‘Puttin' on the Ritz’, ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘Singin' in the Rain’ and ‘The Band Wagon’. In 2012, Bussell was elected President of the Royal Academy of Dance. She is just the 4th President in the RAD’s 92 year history.
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Date of birth: 27 April 1969
Place of birth: London
Honours and achievements
2012: Joins the judging panel of BBC Strictly Come Dancing
2012: Elected President of the Royal Academy of Dance
2011: Stars in Christmas Day special ‘Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood
2010: Becomes ‘Godmother’ of MS Azura Cruise Liner
2008: United talents with singer Katherine Jenkins in the musical Viva La Diva
2007: Retires from the Royal Ballet
2006: Awarded CBE
2005: Darcey Bussell’s Pilates for Life is best-selling fitness book
2005: Joined Tony Blair’s trade delegation to China
1998: Guest appearance in BBC Comedy Vicar of Dibley
1998: Published her autobiography, titled Life and Dance
1995: Awarded OBE
1990: Youngest-ever principal at the Royal Ballet
1989: Becomes youngest-ever principal at The Royal Ballet
1987: Joins Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet