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Leanne Benjamin to retire

Royal Ballet Principal to retire after 21 years with the Company.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

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.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

4 April 2013 at 10.57am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged 2012/13, Leanne Benjamin, retirement

This article has 10 comments

  1. One of my favourite ballerinas! I have followed her career since she was a student at the Genee - amazing that she is still dancing principal roles - fantastic dancer!!

  2. Sahlen responded on 4 April 2013 at 2:57pm Reply

    Best Wishes to Leanne - what an acheivement to have stayed at the top for so long! But now - with 3 of the women principals leaving within one year, surely it is time to promote the lovely Yuhui Choe, who has been a principal in all but name for so long?

  3. Roger & Lesley Everett responded on 4 April 2013 at 8:49pm Reply

    We would like to wish Leanne all the very best for her future and to thank her for many memorable performances. We feel very lucky to have seen her grace the stage at the Royal Opera House.

  4. richard ashby responded on 24 April 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    Very best wishes for your retirement. A great dancer and part of the fabric of the Royal for so many years. You will be greatly missed.

  5. Olivia Cooper responded on 7 May 2013 at 11:59am Reply

    I have always enjoyed Leanne's performances and I will miss her expertise - as for new talent please ignore the comment regarding promoting Yuhui Choe having seen her dance she left me bored which is certainly an achievement given my love of ballet - her technique is good but she is cold and clinical - please look to promote those who have some dramatic qualities rather than just technique! Leanne has both so anyone replacing her (not that they could) would have to have both.

  6. Simon responded on 26 May 2013 at 10:27pm Reply

    Ohh Leanne - how will I survive without you! All these years of looking forward to your majestic performances - the true Prima Ballerina of the Royal Ballet, forgetting all those ballerinas that courted celebrity, the greatest since Lesley Collier said farewell! And now you are to say farewell too. I will miss that incredible stage personality, the grace and delicacy of your unique and indelible way of moving, the intelligence and intensity of your characterisation, and the sheer breathtaking beauty of your dancing. And this is not to mention the most absorbing musicality. The way you melted and folded into your partners arms in the recent Thais pas de deux says it all, also I recall vividly the way you used those magical eyes when dancing the Princess Florine variation (Bluebird pdd) all those years ago - artistic genius! Thank you Leanne for 21 years of unforgettable pleasure - too many great roles to mention, one of the greatest Giselles ever for a start, those last Manons with Steven were ballet heaven, and frankly it is pointless to watch Song of the Earth without you. Have a happy retirement Leanne and I hope you can find some way to pass your artistic genius onto future generations - although like all truly great dancers, you are unique, irreplaceable and unforgettable.

  7. What a wonderful career from an amazing dancer! Congratulations Lee and we wish you all the best for your future endeavours. We're sure they won't be far from the ballet world!

  8. CAROLINE responded on 2 June 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

    Best wishes to Leanne after an amazing!

    Please RB, do not promote Choi..technically great but lacks any personality on stage...I appreciate technique but I want to watch a 'performance' and Choi doesn't have it....the difference between Leanne and a good soloist.

  9. Edmund Terrio responded on 31 July 2013 at 2:01am Reply

    All great things come to an end. Best wishes in your retirement.
    Thank God for modern technology. Her performances have been preserved on DVD forever.
    Brava Leanne and Bravo Royal Ballet for creating a library of DVD's.

  10. Ioly de karly responded on 22 March 2014 at 1:56pm Reply

    Hikaru Koyabashi can now be promoted to director

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