Rising Stars

Sunday, February 4th, 2024!

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Darcey Bussell

Curriculum Vitae

Dame Commander of the British Empire
President, Royal Academy of Dance
Prize Winner, Prix de Lausanne 1986
Jury member, Prix de Lausanne 2012
President of the Jury, Prix de Lausanne 2024

Darcey Bussell is a former Principal with The Royal Ballet and the most famous British ballerina of her generation. During her nearly twenty years as a Principal she won global renown for her unique combination of having a tall and athletic physique whilst dancing with soft lyricism.

Bussell trained at The Royal Ballet School and joined the Company in 1988. She was promoted to Principal in 1989 after the premiere of Kenneth MacMillan’s The Prince of the Pagodas, in which Bussell had created the lead role. Bussell performed all the major classical roles numerous times throughout her career, including creating the role Masha in Winter Dreams and Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas, both choreographed by MacMillan, as well as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya and Gamzatti in La Bayadère, and the lead roles in Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Manon, and Giselle. Bussell remained with The Royal Ballet for her whole career, but also performed as a guest artist with many leading companies including New York City Ballet, Teatro alla Scala, Ballet du Kirov, Hambourg Ballet and Australian Ballet.

In total, she performed more than 80 different roles and 17 roles were created for her. In Sleeping Beauty alone, she performed Aurora in four different productions, one of which was Sir Anthony Dowell’s production which she opened in Washington in front of President Clinton. She retired from the Company in June 2007 with a performance of MacMillan’s Song of the Earth, broadcast live on BBC2. She came out of retirement to dance the Spirit of the Flame, leading a troupe of 200 dancers, at the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony.

Darcey is the President of the Royal Academy of Dance, the Chair of Theatre Royal Plymouth, International Patron of Sydney Dance company and patron of numerous other charities, including London’s Children’s Ballet, the Du Boisson Foundation and New English Ballet Theatre. She is an ambassador for the giving programme of the New Zealand School of Dance, is on the board of the Margot Fonteyn Foundation and is a patron of the medical charities Borne, Sight for All and the Henry Spink Foundation.

Darcey coaches at The Royal Ballet, presents the Royal Ballet’s cinema relays, makes documentaries and recently she founded both the charity Diverse Dance Mix, whose primary aim is to have dance fitness incorporated into an expanded physical education in schools, and Move-Assure which is a movement based social prescription to aid mental health.

She is a recipient of honorary doctorates from Oxford University and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and an honorary Fellowship from Arts University Bournemouth. She is a Prix de Lausanne gold medal winner. She is a gold medal recipient from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and recipient of the Carl Alan Award for contributions to dance. A full-length portrait of her by the artist Allen Jones RA, hangs in The National Portrait Gallery, in London. In 2006, at the Chelsea Flower Show, David Austin Roses launched a new crimson rose called ‘Darcey Bussell’.  Bussell is the “godmother” of MS Azura, a cruise liner of the P&O Cruises fleet.

Her extensive broadcast work includes being a judge on the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, documentaries including Darcey dances Hollywood, her ‘Looking for’ series and she has presented The Royal Ballet’s worldwide cinema live simulcasts since 2014. Bussell’s books include Darcey Bussell: A Life in Pictures, Evolved, the ‘Magic Ballerina’ children’s series and her autobiography.