SYLVIA, Darcey Bussell; The Royal Ballet

Darcey Bussell DBE is made Artist Laureate of The Royal Ballet School


The Royal Ballet School has honoured former student Dame Darcey Bussell DBE with the title Artist Laureate in recognition of her contribution to the School and to ballet.

The new title has been created especially for Dame Darcey to celebrate her exceptional career and achievements as an alumna of the School. It also marks the extraordinary impact she has made in bringing ballet to ever-broader audiences through her work. She is not only a valued and active supporter of the School, she inspires many thousands of young dancers through her teaching and advocacy work.

Darcey Bussell said:
‘I am truly humbled to receive this honour. The Royal Ballet School is where it all started for me. As a student I felt incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this exceptional school so I devoted myself to my training. It is lovely to continue my involvement with the School and look forward to helping develop the next generation of young ballet dancers.’

Christopher Powney, Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet School, said:
‘We are incredibly proud of Dame Darcey as an alumna of the School and this honour of Artist Laureate is in gratitude for everything she has done and continues to do for us.
‘She remains a trusted adviser and passionate advocate for our work and a supporter of our mission to train and educate artists of the future.’

SYLVIA, Darcey Bussell; The Royal Ballet

Darcey Busell began her professional training at the Arts Educational School, a specialist dance and musical theatre school in London. At age of 13, she moved to continue her studies at The Royal Ballet School, both at White Lodge and the Upper School, before graduating into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in 1987. During this time, the choreographer Kenneth MacMillan had noticed Darcey’s exceptional talent, and in 1988 he gave her the leading role in his ballet The Prince of the Pagodas, set to Benjamin Britten’s music, which led to her moving from Sadler’s Wells to join The Royal Ballet. Immediately after the Pagodas première in December 1989, Darcey was promoted to the rank of Principal, becoming the youngest Principal of The Royal Ballet at just 20 years of age. In 2006 she announced her retirement as a Principal dancer at The Royal Ballet, although she stayed with the Company as ‘Principal Guest Artist’. She retired from ballet on 8 June 2007 with a performance of MacMillan’s Song of the Earth. At the end of the piece she received a standing ovation lasting more than eight minutes. It was also broadcast live on BBC Two. Despite retiring from the professional stage, Darcey remains deeply involved in the dance world. She is a recipient of the Carl Alan Award for contributions to dance and has recently stepped down from her role as judge on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Darcey was awarded an OBE in 1995, a CBE in 2006, and a DBE in 2018.

Press release