9 March 2016 at 10.45am | Comment on this article
Regarded as one of Australia's most accomplished dancers, Benjamin will return to her native country to receive the award – over three decades after she left to study in London at The Royal Ballet School.
The honour is the highest recognition an Australian can receive for outstanding achievement and service.
‘I am incredibly honoured to receive this award, particularly as I am a proud Australian', says Benjamin. 'It recognizes all the sacrifices my parents made to enable me to follow my dreams.’
'I am so grateful and proud to have enjoyed a career as a professional ballet dancer. Since my retirement as a ballerina, I am thrilled to have been able to find new ways to contribute to the ballet world, passing on the knowledge I have, and to pursue new areas of interest I can grow into. I am very excited about what the future holds.'
Benjamin began dancing at the age of three, attending classes in her local town. She won a place at The Royal Ballet School at the age of 16 and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (later Birmingham Royal Ballet) in 1983. In 1992, she joined The Royal Ballet and was promoted to Principal at the end of her first Season. Benjamin retired at the end in 2013, after 20 years with the Company.
Benjamin has also been honoured in the UK for her services to dance – receiving an OBE in 2005.