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Last Updated: Friday, 8 June 2007, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
Bussell bows out at Royal Ballet
Darcy Bussell performs in Song of the Earth

Darcey Bussell has given her final performance as principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in London.

The 38-year-old, who was playing the lead in Song of the Earth at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House, decided to retire while at the peak of her powers.

She has been with the Royal Ballet for 20 years, and became its youngest chief performer at the age of 20.

Bussell, who was made a CBE last year, is planning a show with Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins called Viva La Diva.

She explained to the BBC why she wanted to end her career on a high.

"If I finish now I'll be able to look back and be really happy," she said.

"If I keep going for another five years I might not have the same feeling about it."

'Brilliant farewell'

National newspapers have given glowing reviews of Bussell's role, with the Guardian's Judith Mackrell calling it a "poignant and brilliant farewell".

She added that the ballerina's role in Kenneth MacMillan's production, which Bussell first performed in 1990, was "danced flawlessly".

Darcey Bussell
Darcey Bussell has performed around the world during her career

Sarah Crompton, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the performance evoked "translucent images of a ballerina who has burnished the stage for 20 years".

She also praised Bussell's "ability to make everything look beautiful and good".

The dancer announced her intention to step down from her role at the Royal Ballet in 2005, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.

At the time, she said she was "devoted to the company and always will be".

In pictures: Darcey Bussell
08 Jun 07 |  In Pictures
Darcey Bussell's dance to the top
08 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Dancer Bussell steps up for CBE
12 Dec 06 |  Entertainment

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