Ballerina Darcey Bussell finds retiring the right step

Thu May 28, 2009 3:00pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Forty, footloose and fancy free. Former British ballerina Darcey Bussell has no regrets at retiring at the peak of her career or moving to Australia to escape her life in the limelight.

Bussell, who was principal ballerina at The Royal Ballet in London for 17 years, says she now has more time for her two daughters and to pursue interests that took a backseat to dance during the past 30 years, such as working on a series of children's books and playing tennis.

"I am still adjusting, but in the past year I have not even stepped foot into a studio," said Bussell, who moved to Sydney from London last year and turned 40 years-old this April.

"I don't think you ever really escape the dance world, it is embedded in you, and when I see other dancers I just want to get up with them which is a weird feeling but I feel like I have done the right thing."

Bussell, who is described as one of the world's great dancers, was the first British ballerina since Margot Fonteyn in the 1950s to become a household name.

She started ballet lessons at the age of five and at 13 joined the Royal Ballet School before being spotted by renowned choreographer Kenneth MacMillan and accepted into The Royal Ballet in 1988. A year later she became principal ballerina.


Bussell stepped down as a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet in 2006 but stayed on until June 2007 when she retired from ballet with a final performance at the Royal Opera House that ended with a standing ovation of over eight minutes.   Continued...

<p>Former British ballerina Darcey Bussell poses for pictures at Sydney Dance Company in central Sydney May 28, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>