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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Operation sidelines dancer Bussell
Darcey Bussell
Bussell hopes to return in time for a tour of Russia
Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell is to miss the rest of the Royal Ballet's Covent Garden season because she has to have an operation on her foot.

In March, she was forced to quit the stage during the première of Sleeping Beauty because of a pain in her foot.

A frozen muscle was originally thought to have been causing the pain but tests have revealed bone spurs on the front of her right ankle were exacerbating the injury.

She will now have an operation to remove the spurs - bone growths that are formed on existing bone - and will need at least six weeks to recuperate.

Bussell was due to star in a production of Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House and will be replaced as Juliet by Italian dancer Alessandra Ferri.

The late MacMillan is largely credited with discovering Bussell while she still a student and later cast her in the leading role in the Prince of Pagodas in her first season with the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet.

Bussell hopes to rejoin the Royal Ballet in St Petersburg in July for the second half of its Russian tour.

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