A Month in the Country

"Is Natalia Petrovna the way to go for Bussell? Certainly her dancing in Month is beautiful beyond expectation. She dares to drown herself in Ashton’s lyrical flow, bending her upper body to his will in ways we haven’t seen from her before. But Bussell is not one of nature’s great actresses, and this debut performance, which alternated between coy flirtation and glancing emotional warmth, is a dramatic stretch."
Debra Craine The Times June 2005

"Her portrait of Natalya is exquisitely detailed, a lace-work pantomime of fuss and flutter. Her feelings betray themselves in an orgy of self-touching, her fingers stroking longingly at the pale scoop of her throat. When she discovers Vera and Beliaev together, her hurt is palpable, but it's a temporary hurt, a summer shower, and when she slaps Vera it's hard to believe that the incident has roused her to such a pitch of selfish cruelty.
In pure dance terms, Bussell is ravishing, and in her melting line and the soft torsion of her neck and wrists, she is everything that Ashton would have wanted."

Luke Jennings The Guardian June 2005


"Darcey Bussell ... was serenely marvelous as Terpsichore. She dances Balanchine choreography as to the manor born, and in her solo and the pas de deux was everything the most carping of her audience could possibly have wished for"
Nicholas Dromgoole  Sunday Telegraph November 1995

"To watch Bussell walking on pointe - each step a huge 180-degree upward swing of the leg followed by a eurythmically coalescent thrust of the pelvis - made you realise how extraordinary both she and this 67-year old ballet are"
Sophie Constanti The Independent November 1995

"By far the best item was Apollo. .... Mara Galeazzi's Calliope was an intemperate, plaintive mime, Nunez's Polyhymnia was a giddy girl and Darcey Bussell's masterful Terpsichore was tender, flirtatious and severe - until the apotheosis, when playfulness gave way to awe. This was a superbly fresh performance, and as a tribute to Nureyev, it cut to the heart of the art form to which he gave his life."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian April 2003

"Apollo, in Balanchine’s timelessly beautiful ballet, was another favourite Nureyev role. Now, Carlos Acosta is a coltish, proud young god, and Darcey Bussell a serene and lovely Terpsichore."
David Dougill The Sunday Times April 2003

"With her high, serene line, meanwhile, Darcey Bussell is a faultless Terpsichore; I cannot imagine a lovelier reading of this difficult, ambigious role."
Luke Jennings The Daily Telegraph April 2003

"Darcey Bussell, although with her spectacular legs, tremendous assurance and elastic, voluptuous classicism, she was born to dance Terpsichore."
Debra Craine The Times April 2003

"But Darcey Bussell is a radiant Terpsichore, moving with grand simplicity."
Zoe Anderson The Independent March 2007

Ballet Imperial

"As the title suggests, Ballet Imperial is a nod to the glamour of the St Petersburg court. Set to Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto, beneath a ballroom canopy of vast bronze swags, this is neo-classicism at its grandest, the women decked in diamonds, the men in beautiful manners. There is no plot, only patterns, which in Balanchine's hands become kaleidoscopic worlds within worlds, formed and reformed at dizzying speed. He sends the corps cantering down avenues, displays them in lozenges and squares and concentric circles, then dissolves these into ever more glittering intermeshings. The Royal's corps coped with aplomb.

But the most eye-popping feats are left to the two ballerinas, and on Saturday it was Darcey Bussell who stole the show, throwing off the fast, reversing, on-pointe hops in arabesque with an ease you could mistake for pure pleasure."
Jenny Gilbert The Independent February 2006

"Set to Tchaikovsky's 2nd Piano Concerto, Ballet Imperial has a notoriously terrifying entrance for its female lead, who has to launch herself straight into the cadenza and its complex, high-speed turns. As this season's first cast lead, Darcey Bussell flew through the sequence with silvery assurance. I've always liked her in Balanchine and often wonder whether, like Shearer, she might have found a second artistic home in New York. Despite her consummate Englishness, there's something about her high, oblique line, some instinct for the melancholy undercurrent of pieces such as Ballet Imperial that suggests so."
Luke Jennings The Observer February 2006

"Yet the performance, though accomplished, still misses an understanding of how Balanchine's flicks of idiosyncratic detail blend into the whole. Only Darcey Bussell overcomes a tentative start and an inexperienced partner to let her long limbs unfold in sharp jetés, swooping pirouettes and absolute joy at the beauty of it all."
Sarah Crompton The Daily Telegraph February 2006

"And it was only Darcey Bussell in the ballerina role whose grandly unfurling limbs and tender regard made us believe she danced the ballet by divine right. If Bussell owned Ballet Imperial, Carlos Acosta owned Faun."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian February 2006

Birthday Offering

"Birthday Offering's Petipa-inspired virtuosity remains as demanding as ever (but) Darcey Bussell delivered a magnificent balance"
Debra Craine The Times October 1998

"Darcey Bussell danced the lead with an almost beta-blocked calm"
Louise Levene The Sunday Telegraph October 1998

"The cast was led by Darcey Bussell, splendid in the Fonteyn role"
Edward Thorpe Hampstead & Highgate Express November 1998

"New in the divertissements section was a pas de deux from ``Birthday Offering,'' a ballet, set to music by Glazunov, that was created in 1956 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sadler's Wells Ballet (now Royal Ballet). Starring the company's seven ballerinas, the piece was intended as a classical show piece. But what came through here was the rapture of Ashton's choreography and even more of the performance by Darcey Bussell.

Ashton has a gift for pas de deux that shimmered with love, the emotion partly realized in the ways his men gently assist the women in airborne travel, often close to the ground and so more quietly magical. That was the case here, with Thiago Soares a model partner. The corners have been smoothed off Ms. Bussell, once a very American-seeming ballerina in her forthright classicism. Everything is in the upper body here, and Ms. Bussell moved like pouring cream, luxuriating in every last drop of her deep bends forward in dancing that communicated Ashton's rapture with surprising profundity."

Jennifer Dunning The New York Times July 2004


"Bussell's dancing is often astonishing, as she shapes every step and chain with caressing clarity. She made me think of herald-angels, transmitting the tale of the humble dreamer to us"
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph December 1996

"Darcey Bussell was a joy as Cinderella, dancing with an expertise that seemed incomparable, leaving the mind vibrating with echoes of her beauty long after she left the stage"
Nicholas Dromgoole Sunday Telegraph December 1990

"When the remarkable Darcey Bussell ... and her partner Jonathan Cope made their local debuts in Frederick Ashton's Cinderella it was a magic time at the Met ... So far as both theater and dance went, this was undoubtedly the festival's singular pinnacle ... Any quibble dissolved in the face of Bussell's magisterial warmth, impish humor and grave style"
Clive Barnes New York Post July 1997

"Bussell's incomparable sweetness as a dancer makes her an ideal Cinderella, one whose beneficence of spirit is unusually tangible and true ... The extraordinary amplitude of her dancing is as exhilarating as ever ... Her phrasing was positively exultant, as if she were flirting with the almost tactile themes of Provokiev's velvety score. Above all else we were reminded of Bussell's unique ability to illuminate a stage. No matter where she is placed, no matter what else is going on, you only have to sense her beaming presence to feel the invigoration of Ashton's ballet"
Debra Craine The Times January 198

"Bussell gives out a radiance that makes the stage glow ... She took risks with the timing and found a new logic in familiar steps that startlingly rekindled the choreography. She also mined deep into the ballet to bring out its magic, making us believe that the world of Ashton's charming little fairy tale was, right then, the only one that mattered"
Judith Mackrell The Guardian January 1998

"The thing that made the opening performance cause for rejoicing was the Cinderella of Darcey Bussell. I have seen almost every incumbent of the role ... and I treasure grateful memories of each of them. Very few, though, since the early years have played the role with so touching a sense of physical fulfillment ... The sweep of Bussell's dancing, the radiance of her physical presence ... With what gentle innocence did she play the girl, and with what delicious precision set out the little dances - the broom sole a giggle incarnate. But it was at the ball that she claimed the ballet for her own. Her technique is, of course, exceptionally well-rounded, commanding. Her musical feeling seems unerring. Her way with the dance appears, at first, the expression of an all-conquering grace of means. Yet how lightly are steps set out, and with what bright outlines. The great variation told us that Bussell was enjoying the choreography, that she understood how it was made and, with a loving delight, was showing us both its external shape and its inner motivation. It was, in one sense, an analytical performance - analysis done by an artist who lived every moment to the full. I have never seen it danced with such an irresistible combination of technical frankness and joy, and 9it was a marvel. So, indeed, was every aspect of her performance. How pathetic the tiny moment when she plucked at her skirt in sadness. How endearing (and how like Fonteyn) her secret delight when she realises that the shoe in her pocket proves that her dreams of happiness were not dreams: she seemed to hug her joy to herself. I thought it a triumphant interpretation"
Clement Crisp Financial Times December 1998

"Darcey Bussell was Cinderella and Jonathon Cope her Prince, both of them on magnificent form, dancing with marvelous grandeur and expansiveness"
Edward Thorpe Hampstead & Highgate Express January 1999

"Darcey Bussell as the fairytale's heroine, gave one of the best contemporary interpretations of the role I have ever seen. She combined an extraordinary multifaceted dramatic interpretation with an irreproachable technique. Her Cinderella ... stood out for an intriguing mixture of sorrow-induced maturity and joyful childish naivety. Such a reading revealed a deep understanding as well as a stunningly up-to-date adaptation of the way Ashton conceived the character. Paradoxically as it may sound, he wanted her to be a mistreated, ragged child and a diva-like ballerina at the same time"
Giannandrea Poesio The Spectator January 1998


"Darcey Bussell enjoys a compelling duet with Gary Avis that is romantic and apocalyptic, encapsulating the mood of shifting perceptions. At one point, music and dance suddenly stop, and the world stands still. If this is Wheeldon in a different time zone, it’s where the Royal needs to be."
Debra Craine The Times November 2006


"Darcey Bussell ... danced with an easy fluency and technical strength that were a joy to watch; but even more importantly she is finding an expressive range of emotion that caught us up in the drama too..."
Nicholas Dromgoole Sunday Telegraph July 1995

"It is one of the signs of an exceptional ballerina to be able to re-make a role in her own image. Darcey Bussell is, unquestionably, one of the most remarkable talents to have emerged in the Royal Ballet for 20 years..."
Clement Crisp Financial Times July 1995

"Stepping out of her cottage, Giselle starts to dance for the pure pleasure of it. Darcey Bussell moves with expansive delight, with big, glowing lines and a soaring jump. She's the centre of the ballet's world.

Yet Bussell, who danced her first Giselle in 1995, isn't obvious casting. This Romantic ballet has a fragile heroine, a village girl who falls for a disguised aristocrat. When she finds that he has lied to her, she goes mad, dies, and returns as a ghost. The tall, athletic Bussell isn't obviously frail or ethereal, nor has she much reputation as an actress.

So much for typecasting. Bussell's village girl is immediately real, with a freshness that lifts the ponderous naturalism of Peter Wright's production."

Zoe Anderson The Independent April 2006

La Bayadere

"Darcey Bussell as ... the Princess Gamzatti was almost equally rave-worthy. Bussell is Kiri te Kanawa to Guillem's Callas, her dancing sumptuous and clean, her character snobby rather than malicious, obviously deep in love with Solor. The challenges between her and Guillem showed the two women at the end of their emotional tether as well as breathtaking ballerinaship"
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph March 1997

"Bussell's Nikiya is demure and very pretty indeed [and] her dancing was lovely. No-one describes wider arcs of dance than Bussell does, and the sensuousness of her musical phrasing - and the way she played with time, outlining familiar movements in unfamiliar ways - made the interpretation uniquely her own ... She came alive with the sheer physical excitement of letting go into the choreography"

Debra Craine The Times April 1997

"Darcey Bussell [as] Nikiya was admirable. The sweetness of Bussell's character, the ease of her very considerable technique, are well suited to the bayadere. She is discovering the secret of expansive and grandly simple gesture and dance - emotion made legible thought large shapes of movement - and in the Shades scene much of her dancing was luminous, lovely"
Clement Crisp Financial Times April 1997

"...Bussell... gave beautifully shaped and thought-out-performances; ...Bussell, with the authority of experience, inhabited it fully."
David Dougill The Sunday Times February 2002

"It is always a pleasure to watch Bussell's long, lovely lines and bold, light jump, but she can be a let-down dramatically. She used to do Nikiya by numbers, but her reading has matured and there is a new-found eloquence in her mimes with the High Brahmin and with Gamzatti. On Tuesday night her death scene solo was the very embodiment of the keening violin, but the cause of death was a total mystery to most of the audience as the rubber snake that lurks in the basket of flowers had gone walkies."
Louise Levene The Sunday Telegraph April 2002

"DARCEY BUSSELL is back. She may be a new Mum with an eight-month-old daughter at home, but Britain’s favourite ballerina is determined to prove that her career with the Royal Ballet is back on track. With La Bayadère, her first full-length role since her return from maternity leave, it’s clear that Bussell is bringing something extra to the stage. Her Nikiya is danced with the voluptuous ease we expect from Bussell’s remarkable physique, but the drama is newly enriched. She gives us a Nikiya so palpably pure and happy that it’s heartbreaking to see her dispatched by Gamzatti’s poisonous snake.

From the moment the High Brahmin lifts her veil in the first scene of Natalia Makarova’s sumptuous staging, Bussell is alert to Nikiya’s tender emotions. Her love for Carlos Acosta’s thrilling Solor is exciting to behold, a joyous sense of adventure evident in her lush, highly-charged dancing.

Bussell has always been a confident mover but it was great to see, in her plaintive dance during the garden festivities, that she is allowing characterisation to drive the choreography, not the other way around. Her reincarnation in the Kingdom of the Shades was delivered with a renewed vitality, the Petipa choreography shaped with exquisite care (even if tempos were probably faster than she would have liked).

Bussell, soon to be 33, is no doubt conscious that younger dancers are biting at the heels of her satin pointe shoes, but on the evidence of this Bayadère she’s ready to take on the competition."
Debra Craine The Times Feb 2002

La Fête Etrange

"Ricardo Cervera, in last Monday’s cast, gave a superb, sensitive performance as the boy, swept up in his romance with Darcey Bussell’s beautiful bride — lusciously danced."
David Dougall The Sunday Times October 2005

"It was 18 years ago, I think, at the Royal Ballet School's annual Covent Garden showcase, that one particular student caught everyone's eye. Her line was purer, her body more flexible, her technique stronger. In short, she was the one we all watched.
On Tuesday, having just announced her plans for semi-retirement next year from the Royal Ballet, Darcey Bussell was still stealing the show as the bride in Andrée Howard's La Fête étrange (1940)."
Mark Monahan The Daily Telegraph October 2005

"Making her debut as the Bride, she dances with clean, sorrowful lines and gorgeously expressive footwork: bourrées, little hops, rising grandly on pointe or sinking softly from it. Ricardo Cervera, slight and boyish, turns out to be tall and strong enough to partner the famously long-limbed Bussell. His own dancing is quick and crisp."
Zoe Anderson The Independent October 2005

"Even though the revival is well danced - Darcey Bussell's Bride is both luscious and powerfully modelled - the faint scent of mothballs still clings to the work."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian October 2005

"But her arabesques are breathtaking and her pretty chatelaine does try to bring some focus to the confused impressionistic milieu."
Debra Craine The Times October 2005


"Bussell plays this first scene with a delicious naivete ... Manon's character is alive, utterly beguiling, and we see the perfect victim for coming events"
Clement Crisp Financial Times July 1998

"Never before could a Belfast audience have witnessed a performance as compelling as Darcey Bussell's in the title role. Every ounce of emotion - and this is a show dripping with it - was extracted ... MacMillan's work is modern, yet rooted in tradition. Bussell's approach to dance follows this path. She always dances beautifully, but her reference point is the drama, not a clinical display of technical mastery"
Tom Collins Irish News November 1998

"Darcey Bussell's performance last night was absolute perfection. Here was a perfect fusion of technique and inspired characterisation, poetry in motion which will be talked about for a long time by all who saw it. Her use of the arms. for example, was absolutely delightful and her dancing throughout has a fascination that was irresistible and even at the end of the ballet when she is allegedly dying her dancing would have wrung tears from a stone"
Rathcol Belfast Telegraph November 1998

"Darcey Bussell's Manon was mesmeric. Sexy, sensual, childlike and provocative, she seduces the audience and takes them on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Not only is she remarkable for her technical brilliance, but great dancers need to be great actors too, and she has the ability to move an audience to tears. This audience was no exception"
Victoria Maguire The Newsletter November 1998

"Darcey Bussell lived up to her star billing as one of the finest ballerina's the world has produced with a performance that was utterly compelling for its delicacy and beauty ... showing her to be a dancer with a rare ability to convey the drama of a work whilst losing nothing of her flawless technique ... It was Bussell who held the rapt attention of the audience throughout, displaying a waif-like charm that was almost the personification of a summer breeze"
Belfast paper November 1998

"...Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle last Monday, who were both riveting. They have developed a partnership as beautiful as their looks, an intuitive response to each other’s artistry. Bussell’s dancing is a dream, her acting subtle — intensely moving in the character’s final degradation. Bolle’s elegance of style and line are perfect for those wonderful solos of yearning, ardour and anguish originally created for Anthony Dowell, and his reading of Des Grieux’s helpless passion is utterly true.

Because their dancing is so secure, they give full rein to the physical daring of MacMillan’s brilliant pas de deux. These are the high spots of the ballet,.."
David Dougill The Sunday Times Feb 2003


"Ashton's magical Monotones with Bussell starring ... her sleek appearance, gleamingly white-tighted with spearing leg-extensions in vertical splits produced gasps of delight"
David Dougill Sunday Times 7 Mar 99

"It had to be Darcey Bussell who was winched up mast-like on to one toe, the other leg clasped vertically to her forehead, to be revolved slowly like a figure on a cake. Stunning"
Jenny Gilbert Independent on Sunday 7 Mar 99

"Ashon's Monotones seems to be all leg.  And who better than Bussell, with her voluptuous extensions, to plunge into those almighty arabesques?"
Debra Craine The Times 9 Mar 99

"Darcey Bussell's long, poised lines folded and stretched beautifully in the plastique of the second trio"
Nadine Meisner The Independent March 1999

"The perfectly-crafted choreography was gloriously etched within its classical frame by Bussell"
Emma Manning The Stage March 1999

"The lavishness of her movements and phrasing made it a lovely performance"
Zoe Anderson Dancing Times April 1999

Mr Worldly Wise

"Tharp built the ballet around three of the Royal's most individual talents ... Darcey Bussell was still glamour personified last weekend"
Louise Levene Sunday Telegraph November 1998

Bussell extracts everything that is possible to draw from the role of Mistress Truth-on-Toe"
Emma Manning The Stage November 1998

"... brilliant dancing by Darcey Bussell ..."
Barbara Newman Country Life November 1998

Pavane pour une Infante Defunte

"The duet choreographed by Christopher Wheldon to Ravel’s Pavane pour une Infante Defunte was beautifully performed with elegance by Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope, for whom it was created. Her seductive extensions and his subtle partnering kept the audience enthralled."
Gavin Roebuck The Stage March 2005

"A cancelled new work by Christopher Wheeldon is replaced by his first ballet for the company, Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte, an extended pas de deux danced by Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope. Both looked marvellously smooth and elegant in this slight but attractive piece which avoids looking schmalzy."
Edward Thorpe Hampstead and Highgate Express March 2005

"In a partnership made in heaven, Jonathan Cope and Darcey Bussell, long limbed and serene, allowed Wheeldon’s steps and Ravel’s Pavane pour une Infante Defunte effortlessly to flow through their elegant physiques."
Jeffrey Taylor The Sunday Express March 2005

Raymonda Act III

"Raymonda needed Darcey Bussell to give us a sense of occasion"
Debra Craine The Times November 1998

"... the last act of Raymonda with Darcey Bussell on admirable form in her solo, grand in manner, delicious in clarity"
Clement Crisp Financial Times November 1998

"Darcey Bussell was magnetic - both commanding and laced with nuance. Nothing could be more exciting than seeing the superb Igor Zelensky hoist her into the air like a blazing star at the end of one arm"
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph November 1998


"The dancers' belief in the work is absolute and is underpinned by a transcendent principal performance by Darcey Bussell."
Luke Jennings The Observer April 2006

"It was magnificently danced by its cast led by Leanne Benjamin (who gives her every role an exquisite rightness), Darcey Bussell (perfect in every step) and the splendid Carlos Acosta."
Clement Crisp The Financial Times March 2006

"Darcey Bussell was a shining head seraph, her long-lined body sailing wonderfully through the angelic hosts; "
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph March 2006

"Darcey Bussell, leading the Agnus Dei, makes gorgeous shapes;"
Debra Craine The Times March 2006

"And brutally, when the programme moves on to a revival of Kenneth MacMillan's Requiem, Mrozewsky's is no longer the story of the evening. It is the image of Darcey Bussell, dancing with piercing clarity against Leanne Benjamin's exquisite poignancy that we carry home with us."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian March 2006

"The movement is slow, reverential and deliberate with everybody lost in contemplation - partnering happens as if by thought and the merest touch. MacMillan conjures another world and the ending is blissful - one of the strongest dance images I've ever seen with Darcey Bussell (returned from having a second child) being carried aloft off stage gently wafting away with long outstretched legs as Leanne Benjamin remains centre stage to gaze out at us all. It's one of the clearest ripostes I can imagine to those who think MacMillan is just about sex and popular 3 act block busters."
Bruce Marriott Ballet.co October 2004

Romeo and Juliet

"In the ten years of her stage career, Darcey Bussell has done many wonderful things. None, I thought after Tuesday night, more touching or more revealing of her powers as a dance actress than Juliet ... With Darcey Bussell I saw the role MacMillan made. Its life, its emotional purpose and driving physical imagery were heart-stirring. this was ... a character most sensitively understood. Bussell is a child in the opening scene, coltish and blessedly innocent - not easy for a tall dancer - and her inexperience (the downcast eyes, her sense of delight in even being at the ball) make the exactly needed contrast with the young woman whom Romeo is to fine into emotional life. All this Bussell shows with an exquisite precision and a self-absorption, which explains the rest of the action. IN the balcony duet, the dance is impelled onwards by her new-found sexuality, itself still innocent. Faced with the tyrannies of her family, she is by turns rebellious, then drained of force. In everything feeling seems spontaneous, overwhelming - for us as well as for her. It is a beautiful reading ... The role was shown with great artistry and even greater conviction. How fortunate we are to see it"
Clement Crisp The Financial Times April 97

"I have never seen Bussell dance better. And that is a very grand statement indeed. She was breathtaking, one of the finest Juliet's ever. She looked perfect, danced with a dazzling technical expertise and simply surrendered to the choreography and narrative and won all our hearts"
Nicholas Dromgoole The Sunday Telegraph April 97

"It is hard to think of a Romeo and Juliet more physically handsome than Roberto Bolle and Darcey Bussell. Aside from the extreme elegance of their bodies and faces, both possess the kind of Rolls Royce-engineered techniques that allow them to move more smoothly and powerfully than anyone else on stage.

During the first act this luxuriance is sharpened and deepened by passages of fine-tuned artistry. Bolle will never be a big personality or a passionate actor. But swanning around with Tybalt and Mercutio, his Romeo has a sociable charm, while his love for Juliet is fuelled by genuine hunger. When he partners Bussell their dancing is filled with moments of wonderfully reflex daring, reaching a pitch when Bussell leaps backwards into his arms on a trajectory of pure, heedless bliss. Even their kisses look real.

Bussell, for her part, is very good at exploring the interface between Juliet's childishness and her awakening sexuality. During the ball scene her eyes constantly rake the stage, alive with curiosity, desperate for reassurance, while her self-conscious limbs keep trying to adjust themselves to adult manners. Yet within her character's volatility, Bussell's dancing is simply superb. She has hit a peak where she is able to live in the moment of every step. She searches out the possibilities of each choreographic detail and the process seems to be as thrilling for her as it is for us."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian April 2002

"Darcey Bussell has been dancing Juliet for years and you can see how her response to the choreography has deepened. On opening night she delivered a high-energy reading that stretched itself into brave and luscious avenues of physical expression."
Debra Craine The Times April 2002


" There have been some exceptionally fine individual performances in the Royal Ballet's season ... A special pleasure was the sight of Darcey Bussell in Balanchine's Serenade ... Despite an injured ankle, Bussell gave a beautiful account of the ballet"
John Percival The Independent 26 Jul 99

"Serenade was rescued by the superb dancing of Darcey Bussell"
Giannandrea Poesio The Spectator 31 Jul 99

"Darcey Bussell was again at her best dancing Balanchine. Her beautiful simplicity produces a perfect chemistry with Balanchine's lean poetry"
Nadine Meisner Sunday Times 1 Aug 99

"Bussell was born to dance Balanchine and she gave a superb performance ... She dances on such a large and lovely scale that it is as if she were being tracked by a huge magnifying glass. It isn't just the sheer length of each line, or the instinctive timing of each phrase, it is the very force of her personality. She colours her 'character' with such extraordinary sweetness and pathos that between them she and Tchaikovsky made you fell like you'd sat through a three act drama"
Louise Levene The Sunday Telegraph August 1999

"Darcey Bussell epitomises the Balanchine ballerina. Tall, slender and linear, her limbs are designed for neo-classical tracery and her role in Serenade was immaculately prepared"
Emma Manning The Stage August 1999

Song of the Earth

"Bussell is, for me, a mysterious artist. With her first starring roles she new things she could not have known, did things that only an assured ballerina could do ... Her youthful assumptions of The Woman in Song of the Earth ... revealed that in emotionally demanding choreography, Bussell caught the least nuances of the ballet and danced with a heart-tearing clarity ... Bussell was incapable of dancing certain ballets without getting every step right"
Clement Crisp Financial Times December 1998

"Two decades seemed like two days: here was the interpretation, blessedly pure, that MacMillan won from her at her debut. The years have brought fine stage-craft, but have not dimmed the seriousness of Bussell’s first reading, and the image of the radiant young woman is there for all to see, no laurels lost from her crown.

It is the best of farewells, because the truest to Bussell’s gifts, and we shall remember her like this: beautiful, expressive, a generous artist."
Clement Crisp The Financial Times June 2007

"Dressed in a simple white tunic and tights, Bussell makes herself the pure physical instrument of MacMillan's vision. All the familiar beauties of her technique are deployed with equal poetry and restraint - the calm centre from which her dancing radiates, the lavish stretch of her feet, the scything length of her legs and the rich curve of her arms.

At the same time Bussell's exemplary phrasing makes doubly startling the choreography's few overt moments of bravura. One vertiginous lift, where Bussell swings her long body upwards into a quivering arc, fearlessly balanced on the shoulders of her partner, her legs poised and sharp as a swallow's tail, is a moment of simple physical daring and simple sculptural beauty.

Throughout her performance on Saturday, Bussell danced flawlessly, as deep inside the choreography and the music as I've ever seen her."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian June 2007

"Bussell has always had a quality of radiance, in her dancing and in her stage presence. Her long, strong feet seem to gleam, her body moving with strength and swansdown softness. Here, she has abandon even in stillness. Waiting, she leans forward, poised for her next step. At last, she rises slowly on pointe - Bussell's slow relevés have always been a source of wonder - and plunges down those dark paths. This last long run on pointe is astounding. Her feet ripple like water, a wave of emotion pouring through these steps."
Zoe Anderson The Independent June 2007

"What Bussell brought was a characteristic justness of line, a perfectly placed simplicity of movement, an ability to make everything look both beautiful and good.

She danced with unusual intensity and concentration, endowing the simplest run backwards on point with extraordinary meaning as the music soared around her, enveloping her in its acceptance of death."
Sarah Compton The Daily Telegraph June 2007

"Ms. Bussell, simply doing the movements, drew your eye to each side-tilt of the torso, each yearning finger-to-toe arabesque, and became more vulnerable than any of the role’s most celebrated previous interpreters. More than once Mr. MacMillan has his ballerina standing still in profile, isolated, leaning right forward with her weight over the front of the foot — stillness as a gesture of ardent longing — but nobody has ever made this as clear as Ms. Bussell.

The last time she stands this way, she transforms what occurs: The music builds, she waits alone and then, still leaning ahead in profile, she rises, slowly, slowly, onto point, as if welling emotion were lifting her.

What follows, while the singer (“Die liebe Erde ...”) pours out long vocal phrases about the earth’s beauty, is the famous climax of the role: the ballerina travels rapidly across the stage, forward and back, gesturing right and left (until a final headlong collapse). Ms. Bussell made it seem newly minted, with those beautifully sensitive feet rippling more fully than any of her predecessors’."
Alastair Macaulay The New York Times June 2007

"Bussell’s swansong is one of her favourite ballets, Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 creation, Song of the Earth, set to Mahler’s grand song cycle. A heavy-duty, hour-long abstract ballet about life and the inexorability of death, it’s not the kind of glamorous exit one might expect. Yet seeing the 38-year-old Bussell dance the leading female role on Saturday night was to understand why this is the way she wants to be remembered.

Bussell has always been an instinctive dancer rather than an intellectual one and this ballet’s demand for emotion without narrative is her passionate territory. She interprets MacMillan’s imposing, eloquent choreography with a luminous intensity and shapes his physical language exquisitely. The magnificent breadth of her lyricism, the radiant affirmation of life she exudes dancing with Carlos Acosta’s stunningly powerful Messenger of Death: this is clearly a role that means much to Bussell and her commitment to it is transporting. So ravishing is her performance, so voluptuous her long limbs, that the idea of retirement beggars belief."
Debra Craine The Times June 2007

Stravinsky Violin Concerto

"The first, for Darcey Bussell and Edward Watson, is prodigiously acrobatic and finds Bussell in splendid form. She looks divine even manipulated like a rubber band, strong yet ultra feminine, and not a bad advert for her Pilates video either."
Debra Craine The Times October 2006

"In the first, Darcey Bussell and Edward Watson entwine like fantastical acrobats, her splayed hands and delicately tipped head suggesting questing enquiry; in the second, Leanne Benjamin and Johan Kobborg create a melancholy sense of estrangement."
Sarah Crompton The Daily Telegraph October 2006

"George Balanchine may have had a notoriously feckless record as a husband, but he choreographed some of the most sexually grown-up ballets in the repertory. In his Stravinsky Violin Concerto the dancers are, as always, the medium for his beautiful and musical pattern-making; yet their bodies are charged with such a dangerous, sensuous energy that there is another mesmerising subtext going on. When Darcey Bussell is lifted across the stage - her legs taut, her head back and her throat lushly bared - she looks like a woman in the aftermath of some appalling erotic triumph."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian October 2006

"The cast was led by Darcey Bussell, born to dance Balanchine,"
Clement Crisp The Financial Times October 2006

Swan Lake

"She has arrived at an understanding of the role so personal and so true that she defines the whole atmosphere of the ballet within it ... As Odile, Bussell casts an implacable commanding spell ... Yet her greatest moments may be in Act IV where her Odette becomes fully human"
Judith Mackrell The Guardian January 1995

"Bussell wisely chose to present her Odette as a mournful creature, rather than a vulnerable one ... Her Odile was triumphant: disdainful, seductive, grandly glamorous, her voluptuous legs used like velvet-gloved weapons of deception"
Debra Craine The Times January 1995

"Darcey Bussell ... is a lovely dancer - lyrical, long--limbed and intrinsically glamorous"
Martin Bernheimer Los Angeles Times July 1995

"The major focus was Darcey Bussell, who as Odette/Odile gave one of the oddest but most interesting performances of her career. Technically, her credentials to dance this dual role are a given, yet she seems intent on sacrificing its traditional lyric beauties and scintillating displays for something more willed. Her Odette, during much of act two, is a wild creature, as wary and feral as Fokine's Firebird. In the edgy use of her head, eyes and hands and in the staccato emphases of her phrasing Bussell sometimes bucks the music strangely. Yet all the time she shows Odette resisting Siegfried's love, resisting the pain of feeling human. The moment at which Odette pushes down her uplifted "wings", forcing them to become human arms, has rarely been so potent."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian October 2000


"She is physically glorious in the role, bounding across the stage with her cohort of Amazonian huntresses."
Jann Parry The Observer November 2005

"Fittingly, at the opening performance, the stars were, you might say, ballet’s most beautiful couple, Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle. At the bravura climax, as Bussell took risky leaps into Bolle’s arms, to be caught (reversed) in fish-dive position, a woman near me — after a dumbstruck time lag — gasped at a wonderful thing she had seen, but could not quite believe.

Bussell is not the most dramatic of dancers, not wholly convincing in the erotic wiles needed to outwit her kidnapper Orion; nor does her tall physique best suit Ashton’s most intricate steps. But her beauty of line, her fine jumps and extensions, her authority and radiance, carry the performance, matched by Bolle’s elegance of style
David Dougall The Sunday Times November 2005

"In the complex title role Darcey Bussell, who announced her partial retirement move from principal dancer to guest artist earlier this season, is persuasive as the proud nymph as well as tenderly showing the first awakenings of love. With her thrilling long extended legs, flirty, flying elevation and speedy articulate footwork she is still in her prime. She dances with perfect precision in the pizzicato divertissement and is ravishingly radiant in the pas de deux powerfully partnered by Roberto Bolle who also displays some soaring elevation as the shepherd Aminta."
Gavin Roebuck The Stage November 2005

"Bussell may be too fresh and wholesome to convince as Orion’s artful seducer, but she has the arabesques of an Amazon and the radiance of a fairytale princess. Her English rose charm presides over the ballet with a winning distinction, her technique strong, lovely and ambitiously generous throughout three demanding acts."
Debra Craine The Times November 2005

".. as Darcey Bussell opens this season's revival (of 'Sylvia'), she confirms herself to be its rightful heir. Last year, her performance was fussed by nerves, yet now that she's relaxed into it, she looks sparky and at times magnificent."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian November 2005

"Bussell's athletic body doesn't fit the Fonteyn template and the scale of her dancing is occasionally wrong-footed by the speed of the choreography. But she can also work these qualities to the role's advantage. Her blithe, reckless attack registers Sylvia's virginal arrogance perfectly and she projects a veiled unawakened quality that vividly highlights the desires of her competing lovers."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian November 2004

Symphony in C

"Symphony in C is a youthful score by Bizet and its varying melodies, rhythms and textures are reflected in Balanchine’s exuberant choreography. Contrasting movements introduce in turn the various performers who spectacularly come together for the joyful finale. Darcey Bussell with Thiago Soares excelled with some super dancing by among others Roberta Marquez and Sarah Lamb."
Gavin Roebuck The Stage March 2005

"Bussell (with Cope) a serene goddess in the Adagio,"
David Dougall The Sunday Times March 2005

The Nutcracker

"Elsewhere, The Nutcracker reigns as usual. At Covent Garden, Sir Peter Wright’s venerable production for the Royal Ballet has made its latest return, and with it on opening night came the company’s queen, Darcey Bussell, back from maternity leave, as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Bussell’s qualities — her physical beauty, her inner radiance, her natural authority in classical dance — are exceptional, and they shone again, with her long-attuned partner Jonathan Cope’s power and nobility as the Prince, in a pas de deux that was truly grand."
David Dougill The Sunday Times December 2001

"But the first night belonged to Darcey Bussell, returning to the stage after a year off to have a baby. And she makes a resplendent Sugarplum, majestic in the clarity and reach of her dancing, radiant in a smile that never, ever seems put there for show."
Jenny Gilbert The Independent December 2001

"Magically, at Thursday's opening performance of the Royal Ballet's Nutcracker, everything worked: tricks, transformations, children's dances, snowflake flurries and the return of Darcey Bussell as the Sugar Plum Fairy. She has been away most of the year, having a baby daughter, but her image on the company's festive poster held out the promise of a sparkling comeback.

She met every expectation, for she has worked hard to regain her technical security. Nobly partnered by Jonathan Cope, she is so well poised that she can choose how to end her pirouettes and how long to hold her balances. She still has the eagerness that enables her to jump fleetly and a bold clarity that makes her very different from more filigree Sugar Plums. Cope has long, elegant legs to match hers and a dignity that invests his escort role with grandeur."
Jann Parry The Observer December 2001

"The affectionate roar that greeted Darcey Bussell's return to the Opera House on Thursday night would reassure any dancer who had just spent a year off the stage. But it must have been specially comforting to Bussell given that she was making her comeback in the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. This is a cameo appearance compared with most ballerina roles - it's only a 10-minute pas de deux. But the opening section is spiked with some unusually tough lifts, the music accelerates into tricky speeds, and the dance comes right at the end of the ballet, launching its performers into centre-stage virtuosity without any preparation.

...But much of her old form was brilliantly in place. No one else can embrace the stage with such sunny grandeur or move with such plush assurance. And there were moments - the reckless abandon with which she flew at her Prince (lovely, selfless Jonathan Cope), and teased out footwork of regal wit in her solo - that reminded Covent Garden of all that it had missed during the past 12 months.

Bussell's return was the icing on a more or less perfect cake."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian December 2001

"It's Nutcracker season again, and last night saw Darcey Bussell's return to the Covent Garden stage after maternity leave. She danced the Sugar Plum Fairy and, after a careful beginning, her performance swiftly gathered confidence. Her partner - as in many past triumphs - was Jonathan Cope, and his solicitude of her was as moving as it was tender.
In her solo, nerves suitably smoothed, she hit a balance in attitude of such sensuous perfection that a ripple of shared pleasure ran through the audience. It was an archetypal Darcey moment."
Luke Jennings The Evening Standard December 2001

The Sleeping Beauty

"Darcey Bussell [danced] a glorious Rose Adagio, holding those awesome arabesques as only she can ... the great Bussell's greatest role ... No one can equal Bussell's combination of bold attack and creamy fluidity or that rosy open-heartedness"
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph January 1997

Bussell produced a most ravishing display of bountiful classicism, exiting in its ambition and breathtaking in its realisation. Her self-possession as a performer is always impressive: on Saturday night it was little short of miraculous. She was a radiant, gleaming Aurora, a ballerina who embraced Petipa's demanding choreography with rapture and confidence. The Rose Adagio balances were .... drawn out to such an extent that Victor Fedotov almost ran out of music to conduct [as if] she wanted to cherish each and every balance; the effect was ... sheer magic as she made the mark. Her solo was no less wonderful: nimble footwork, voluptuous extensions and dazzling backbends
Debra Craine The Times January 1997

The sight of Darcey Bussell lavishing perfect balances on one, two, three, four suitors in the Rose Adagio can still bring you to your knees ... More than ever, Bussell's remarkable stillness - her ability to seem always in repose while flowing through the most challenging step combinations in classical dance - projects a central idea of British classicism as majestic scale
Lewis Segal Los Angeles Times May 1997

"It is then to Bussell's enormous credit that even though she looked uneasy at times, she produced a radiant Rose Adage, and a grand pas de deux of such absolute secure grandeur that it was impossible to believe she was in so much pain that she had to be replaced."
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph March 2003

Towards Poetry

"Darcey Bussell relished choreography that exploited her leggy athleticism and predatory glamour - hardly a new side to Bussell but a side one cannot see too often"
Louise Levene Sunday Telegraph March 1999

"Baldwin sees things in [Bussell] that others often ignore. He may exploit her familiar power and scale, but he also plays games - letting her fall off balance with an abandon that makes the world stop, giving her phrases that seem sleek as double cream, but are spiked will chilli. She looks sexy, spiteful and funny"
Judith Mackrell The Guardian March 1999

"Towards Poetry is clearly enamoured of Bussell's unique talents but doesn't take them at face value. Instead, Baldwin produces a ballet of real bite, with a sly Bussell posing as the girl next door with a real mean streak ... and a catty interplay between Bussell and her spirited opponent"
Debra Craine The Times March 1999

"Bussell led Mark Baldwin's Towards Poetry, performing a quirky pas de deux and a long solo that displayed her yawning jump. Her deliberate, challenging air of narcissism slotted into the piece's eccentric atmosphere"
Nadine Meisner The Independent March 1999

"Darcey Bussell was utterly magnificent throughout the difficult solo"
Giannandrea Poesio The Spectator November 1998

"It was left to Darcey Bussell to fulfill the ballet's eastern promise with her arch little stampings and handclaps, and a sensuous, almost languid drag in the body"
Jenny Gilbert Independent on Sunday November 1998


"Because Wheeldon's technical demands of his dancers, including spectacular Darcey Bussell, are more extreme than Morris's, Tryst steals Gong's thunder."
Jan Parry The Observer October 2002

"Bussell reaches her zenith in Tryst, the only new work created for the Royal during Ross Stretton’s directorship. Christopher Wheeldon’s interpretation of James MacMillan’s score is both sleek and luscious.

Its bustling outer movements bracket a sensuous slow duet for Bussell and Jonathan Cope isolated in a wilderness of shimmering light. The dancers show that they have put a bumpy year behind them and are focusing on the future."
Allen Robertson The Times October 2002

"Wheeldon's beautiful choreography, costumed in sea-greys, uses the music's motive forces to whip up smart, detailed, surging ensembles that enclose a pearl of a pas de deux. Like a mermaid, an undulating Darcey Bussell spins a web of enchantment around Jonathan Cope, until some tremendously real and nonchalant one-handed partnering by Cope jolts us from dream to shocked admiration."
Ismene Brown The Daily Telegraph October 2002

"Christopher Wheeldon's Tryst actually looks set to become a classic, with its shape-shifting group sections and eerily potent central duet (for Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope). This is choreography that is as flattering to the dancers as it is engrossing to watch."
Judith Mackrell The Guardian October 2002

"The entrée and pas de deux from Birthday Offering was the first of three excerpts featuring Darcey Bussell. Like Margot Fonteyn, who originally danced the role, Bussell can evince a very English, very decorous glamour, and by presenting that particular facet of herself in Frederick Ashton's 1956 pièce d'occasion, she gave the evening meaning and poignancy. Later we saw Bussell in the pas de deux from Christopher Wheeldon's Tryst. This was another dancer altogether, her performance as sinuous and reverberant as the oyster pinks and raincloud blues of the ballet's designs. She was sympathetically partnered each time by Jonathan Cope. Our last sight of her was as Juliet in the balcony scene where, from first frank stare to liquescent surrender, she was all teenage abandon. Her Romeo, Roberto Bolle, was tactful and handsome, but he seemed to vanish in the rush of Bussell's desire."
Luke Jennings The Guardian July 2002

Winter Dreams

"..Bussell was Masha. Her movement speaks, the character lives; her artistry fulfils every demand of the ballet and of the theatre."
Clement Crisp The Financial Times May 2007

"She dances now with more fervour and just as much expressive power as she did 15 years ago, and though the bill came to a rather downbeat close, with a gunshot and a snowstorm, Winter Dreams was also a fitting conclusion. It showed the passion that Bussell has brought to her career; it revealed where her heart lies."
Sarah Crompton The DailyTelegraph May 2007

"Here Bussell is the passionate central sister, desperately willing to sacrifice her middle-class married respectability for illicit love."
Allen Robertson The Times May 2007

Darcey Bussell was at her loveliest and most heart-rending, taking leave of ardent Roberto Bolle in the pas de deux from Winter Dreams (Monday).
David Dougill The Sunday Times June 2006

"When Kenneth MacMillan choreographed Winter Dreams for Darcey Bussell and Irek Mukhamedov in 1991, their mutual chemistry seemed to be permanently embodied within the ballet's leading roles. Mukhamedov - the older Russian, whose Vershinin wore his soul, smouldering, on his sleeve - appeared the definitive foil to Bussell's very young, English Masha, a girl almost suckered into the whirlpool of her lover's desires.

Yet no ballet is static, and when Bussell revived her role last week with the much less exigent Inaki Urlezaga, she was forced to do much of the running herself. This time, the drama of the piece unexpectedly shifted away from the lovers' thwarted passion and focused on Masha's shame at betraying her husband and her anguished contemplation of her now empty marriage."

Judith Mackrell The Guardian January 2003

"The heavily understated performance last week produced ennui in front of the curtain as well as on stage, but luckily two of the sisters, Darcey Bussell as the lovelorn Masha, and Tamara Rojo as the insatiable flirt, Irina, coupled with a diamond bright performance by Anthony Dowell as Masha's duped husband, Kulygin, were enough to keep the watcher's eyelids, and heart, open. Bussell's holiday romance with Inaki Urlezaga dancing Mukhamedov's role, was a tame affair but she portrayed her heartbreak even without any discernable reaction from her stage lover, "
Jeffery Taylor The Sunday Express January 2003

"Darcey Bussell as Masha looks beautiful and dances passionately in the high-spot Farewell pas de deux"
David Dougill The Sunday Times January 2003

"Still, Darcey Bussell, returning to the role of Masha, dances with an exciting amplitude that could have sent shivers down the spine had she not been partnered by Inaki Urlezaga’s limp Vershinin. Anthony Dowell, on the other hand, brought a heartbreaking futility to Masha’s unwanted husband, Kulygin."
Debra Craine The Times January 2003