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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
CBE for ballet's Darcey Bussell
Darcey Bussell
Bussell has been a principal with the Royal Ballet for 17 years
Ballerina Darcey Bussell has been made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for service to dance.

The Royal Ballet's golden girl Darcey Bussell has been the country's leading ballerina for almost two decades.

She began her career at White Lodge - the Royal Ballet's prestigious lower school - at the relatively late age of 13 where her precocious talent quickly shone through.

Within a year of graduating to the upper school, Bussell won the international ballet competition Prix de Lausanne in 1986.

Renowned choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan, who had also noticed her blossoming talent, cast her in the principal role of his ballet Concerto for the school's performance later that year.

And although Sadler's Wells Ballet was her first port of call as a professional 1987, it was not long before she made the leap to the Royal Ballet.

During her first season with Sadler's Wells, Sir Kenneth plucked Bussell from the Corps de Ballet for the leading role as Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas.

Classical repertory

She transferred to the Royal Ballet in 1988 as a soloist, rising quickly to first soloist, then to the rank of principal on the opening night of The Prince of the Pagodas.

She was aged just 20 and then the Royal Ballet's youngest-ever principal.

With her position at the Royal Ballet sealed, Bussell went on to become the Royal Ballet's enduring leading lady.

Her other roles in MacMillan's ballets have included the title roles in the technically-demanding Manon and Romeo and Juliet, the leading roles in Song of the Earth and the jazzy one-act ballet Elite Syncopations.

She has also danced the title role in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella, Monotones II, Sacred Love in Les Illuminations and the pas de deux and Bariosova Variation in Birthday Offering.

Darcey Bussell
Bussell recently performed at the Queen's 80th birthday gala

Bussell's classical repertory includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker.

During her career, Bussell has also danced with the New York City Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, Australian Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

Her awards have included dancer of the year in 1990 - as voted for by the readers of Dance and Dancers magazine - and was honoured with the Evening Standard Ballet Award the same year.

But ballet awards are not Bussell's only achievements.

She became an OBE in the 1995 New Year Honours List and in 1998 she published her biography A Life In Dance.

Her waxwork image is in Madame Tussauds, and her portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery.

Bussell has also turned up in the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, and she has modelled clothes for Mulberry and Bruce Oldfield.

Last year Bussell announced she was stepping down as a principal with the Royal Ballet, but would continue to perform with the company as a guest artist.

She said the CBE would serve as "a great reminder" of her dancing career as a member of The Royal Ballet.

"It's something that makes me immensely proud," she added.

Bussell is married to banker Angus Forbes and together they have two daughters, Phoebe, five, and Zoe, two.


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