Darcey is widely recognised as one of the greatest British ballerinas of all time. She has performed as a guest artist with leading international ballet companies and, since retiring from professional ballet in 2007, has continued to be active in the world of dance. She also replaced Alesha Dixon on the Strictly Come Dancing judging panel for the 2012 series.
When she was promoted to Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet, London in 1988, she was the youngest ballerina to be given the honour. At just 19 years of age, her first performance as Principal was in Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet The Prince Of The Pagodas.
Darcey Bussell CBE continued as a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet London until her retirement in 2007, during which time she performed every major classical role numerous times and guested with the Kirov, Paris Opera, New York City Ballet, Australian ballet and Hamburg ballet amongst others.
Following her retirement, Darcey teamed up with the Welsh opera sensation Katherine Jenkins to perform a musical called Viva La Diva, which toured the United Kingdom. The performances were a sell out success, indeed tickets to the value of over two million pounds sold within two weeks of the first shows going on sale.
In addition to managing a highly successful dance career, Darcey has collaborated on a series of Magic Ballerina books for children, established an on line commercial enterprise and published the book; Pilates For Life.
She joined the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing judging panel in the final stages of the 2009 series. In the semi-final of the competition she danced a jive with the professional dancer Ian Waite. In December 2011 she featured in a television show where alongside choreographer Kim Gavin she recreated some of Hollywood’s famous dance routines including some by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly from films such as Singing In The Rain and Top Hat (“Cheek to Cheek”) on BBC Four.
During an outstanding career in ballet, Darcey Bussell was recognised with numerous awards: In 1986 she won the Prix de Lausanne. In 1990, she was named Dancer of the Year by readers of the Dance and Dancers Magazine, she won the Variety Club’s Sir James Garreras Award for the Most Promising Newcomer and received the Evening Standard Ballet Award. In 1991 she was selected as the joint winner of the Cosmopolitan Achievement Award in the Performing Arts category. She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1995 and subsequently a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2006.
Darcey has also been honoured as one of Madame Tussaud’s waxworks and a portrait of her hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London.
During Darcey’s meteoric rise to the very top of The Royal Ballet she faced numerous obstacles and personal challenges which makes for a story that is both enchanting and engaging, which gives her presentations a human dimension.