4 April 2013 at 10.57am | 10 Comments
Royal Ballet Principal Leanne Benjamin is to retire at the end of the 2012/13 after 21 years with The Royal Ballet.
Leanne's final performance with the Company will be in Tokyo on 10 July as part of The Royal Ballet's summer tour of Japan. Her final performance at the Royal Opera House will be as Mary Vetsera in the Season finale of Mayerling on 15 June, the role she marked her debut at Covent Garden with.
Leanne joined The Royal Ballet as a First Soloist in 1992 after dancing with Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet, Deutsche Oper Ballet and London Festival Ballet. She was promoted to the rank of Principal in 1993 and since then has danced all the leading classical roles as well as having a number of roles created on her by choreographers including Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Kim Brandstrup and Alexei Ratmansky. Excelling in the MacMillan repertory, Leanne also worked with Frederick Ashton and Ninette De Valois. She was awarded the OBE in 2005 for services to dance.
'I am incredibly fortunate to have had such a long and exciting life as a ballerina,' says Leanne, 'I feel, with Mayerling at the end of the Season, that there would be no better way for me to draw my career as a dancer at the Royal Opera House to a close. I realize how blessed I am to have had such a unique and expansive career, spanning many companies and working with a multitude of extraordinary people. I owe a great debt of gratitude to so many people who nurtured me in the early part of my career and, of course, having made The Royal Ballet my home for the last twenty years, I want to thank everyone there who has worked tirelessly to support me personally and professionally. I will always remain grateful and thankful for the opportunities I have enjoyed as a result of that support.'
Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O'Hare said: 'Leanne has been such a huge part of The Royal Ballet for the last 21 years. It is hard to imagine the Company without her. But, I am sure the memory of her unique and very special talent will remain with us through the many roles she created during her long career. Leanne will be much missed and we wish her well with all her future plans.'
You can listen to Leanne Benjamin being interviewed by Christopher Cook on our iTunesU page. It is track number 5 in the Insights Ballet: In Conversation With album. Please note: you need iTunes to listen to this track. If you don’t have iTunes, it is free to download.