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Ballet Encyclopedia

Darcey Andrea Bussell

born: 1969

Darcey Andrea Bussell was born in London on the 27th of April 1969 with the arts in her genes. Her mother had begun training as a dancer at the Royal Ballet School but later became a model, actress and fashion store owner. As a young child Darcey played football with the boys and competed in swimming, wanting to become a professional swimmer one day. She studied dance at the Arts Educational School until, at the age of thirteen, she was accepted to White Lodge, the Royal Ballet's Lower School. She was very dedicated and worked extremely hard; while the other young girls watched television she would practice by herself.

Darcey Bussell graduated to the Upper School in 1985 and stayed there two years participating in the school performances in 1986 and 1987 at Covent Garden. Kenneth MacMillan cast her in the principal role of his ballet Concerto for the 1986 school performance. She also won the Prix de Lausanne in 1986 and spent the prize money on classes with the Monte Carlo Ballet where she attended classes with Rudolf Nureyev.

Miss Bussell was asked to join the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, now the Birmingham Royal Ballet, for their 1987-88 season. During this first season Kenneth MacMillan chose her for the lead role of his new ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas, which he was choreographing for the Royal Ballet. Darcey transferred to the Royal Ballet Covent Garden in September of 1988 as a soloist and became First soloist in 1989. Three months later, on opening night of The Prince of the Pagodas, Miss Bussell was promoted to Principal dancer making her, at the age of twenty, the youngest principal dancer in the history of the Royal Ballet.

In July 1990 Darcey performed MacMillan's Winter Dreams final Pas de Deux at the Queen Monther's 90th Birthday Tribute at the London Palladium. Also that year, she was also voted Dancer of the year by readers of Dance and Dancers Magazine and won the Evening Standard Ballet Award. In 1991 Darcey Bussell received the Variety Club of Great Britain's Sir James Garreras Award for the most promising newcomer of 1990 and was a joint winner of the Cosmopolitan Achievement Award in the Performing Arts Category. A documentary on Darcey and another Principal dancer, Viviana Durante, was broadcast in October of 1992. A portrait of her by Allen Jones RA was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and unveiled on May 23rd 1994. She has also guested with the New York City Ballet in 1993 to dance the Agon pas de deux at the Balanchine Gala, in 1994 to perform Agon and Symphony in C and returned in 1995 for Balanchine's Act II Swan Lake and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1995, Dacey Bussell was named Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Darcey fell in love with a wondeful man named Angus Forbes and married him in 1997. In 1998, she danced with the Kirov at St. Petersburg performing Nikiya in La Bayadere and was the subject of an Omnibus documentary. Darcey now has two beautiful daughters: Phoebe born in 2001 and Zoe born in 2004.

One thing not many people know about Darcey is her sense of humour. On April 1st 2001 she played an April fool's joke on everyone writing on her website that she would be appearing in the next Bond movie. She was able to dupe the BBC and the Evening Standard. In 2002, she was named in the Top Ten of Britain's Most Elegant Women by Hello! Magazine. Over the years she has appeared on eight ballet videos and a movie named True Blue in 1996. Darcey has also written six books: Pilates for Life, A Dancer's Life, Life in Dance, The Illustrated Book of Ballet Stories, Favorite Ballet Stories and The Young Dancer. She is now in South Africa for the filming of her new Pilates DVD.

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