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Leanne Benjamin

London, UK

Principal Dancer, The Royal Ballet (1993 - 2013)

Retired at 49 at the peak of her career

"Adeline Genée Gold Medal" and "Prix de Lausanne" award recipient (1980-81)

Leanne Benjamin is a former Principal of The Royal Ballet. Having retired in 2013 at the astonishing age of 49, Leanne now talks about her extraordinary career and what twenty years as one of the world’s greatest ballerinas has taught her.

Benjamin was born in Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia, and began dancing aged three. After training locally she followed her older sister to study at The Royal Ballet School, and while at the School won the 1980 Adeline Genée gold medal and the 1981 Prix de Lausanne. At Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet she was promoted to principal in 1987; the following year she joined London Festival Ballet as a principal and in 1990 joined Deutsche Oper Ballet.

Leanne joined The Royal Ballet School at the age of 16 and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (later Birmingham Royal Ballet) in 1983. In 1992 she joined The Royal Ballet as a First Soloist and was promoted to Principal at the end of her first Season. Benjamin retired at the end of the 2012/13 Season, after 20 years as a Principal with The Royal Ballet. In 2005 she received an OBE in recognition of her services to dance.

Benjamin’s wide-spanning repertory included Juliet, Manon, the Firebird and Odette/Odile (“Swan Lake”), among many others, and creating new roles for choreographers including Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon, Alastair Marriott and Alexei Ratmansky. She was one of the last dancers of The Royal Ballet to work with all of its founding choreographers: Ninette de Valois, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan. Her final performance at the Royal Opera House was as Mary Vetsera in “Mayerling” on 15 June 2013, a role she first danced with the Company on 10 November 1992.

Our Comment

"Leanne talks about her extraordinary career and what it taught her about herself, how to break through barriers, and how to sustain peak performance. Her subjects include: - how the girl from the Australian Outback made it into The Royal Ballet in Covent Garden - how she built fruitful relationships with four successive Directors - how she sustained peak performance until she was 49 years old - how experience taught her to make the right choices, and trust her instincts. Leanne's unique presentations include wonderful video and her own distinct brand of humour and story-telling. "

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