Dame Darcey Bussell DBE - Former Principal Dancer Royal Ballet

Photograph: Charlotte MacMillan

Photograph: Charlotte MacMillan

Whilst still at the Royal Ballet School, choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan had noticed her exceptional talent and he created the lead role of Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas for her when she was just 19 years old. Darcey was a Principal dancer at The Royal Ballet for almost 20 years (ret. 2007). She danced in over 80 different roles and had 18 roles made on her. Coming out of retirement, she led a troupe of 200 dancers when she danced the Spirit of the Flame in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.

Darcey is patron of 16 charities, including being President of the Royal Academy of Dance, Campaign President of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the overseas Patron of the Sydney Dance Company. 

Amongst her many activities she presents The Royal Ballet’s worldwide cinema simulcasts and is a Principal guest coach at The Royal Ballet company. She has made documentaries on dance including her ‘Looking for series’ with the BBC, focusing on Margot Fonteyn, Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, and was a judge on Strictly Come Dancing for seven years to 2018.

Darcey founded DDMIX (diverse dance mix), a dance fitness program, whose primary aim is to have dance fitness incorporated into an expanded physical education in British schools. Awarded a CBE in 2007, she was made a Dame Commander in the 2018 New Years honours list.