Lesley Collier

Lesley Collier joined the Royal Ballet in 1965 and danced there for thirty years, becoming in the process one of the most popular ballerinas in the company"s history. A strong technique, combined with integrity and musicality, gave her the versatility to shine across the whole spectrum of the repertoire, overcoming a lack of inches which might have limited the scope of someone less talented. Her loyalty, reliability and unselfishness - she once gave up a shceduled Juliet to give Gelsey Kirkland an extra performance - made her an ideal company dancer.

Collier was born in Kent in 1947, and studied with Irene Ayres before joining the Royal Ballet School, where a photograph of her at the barre when she was 12 already shows the strength and clarity of line which were to become such features of her dancing. For her graduation performance she danced the "white" girl in Ashton"s Two Pigeons - a perceptive choice, as in the early stages of her career some might have thought her better suited to the livelier Gypsy girl. She was taken into the Royal Ballet and was soon noticed for the vivacity of her dancing in minor roles, and in classical solos such as the fast one in Nureyev"s Bayadère, in which she used to almost stop the show. In 1972 she was promoted to Principal, and given her first big leading roles, in Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet.

The rest of the standard classics followed - though never, sadly, Coppélia, which was out of the repertoire through all the time she might have danced it. Though her Odette/Odile and Giselle were widely admired, her greatest success was probably in Sleeping Beauty, where her personality and style seemed the closest fit of any ballerina of her era. She created many roles for the company"s choreographers, including Miranda in Nureyev"s Tempest and Roxane in David Bintley"s short-lived Cyrano. Her greatest creation, though, must be the ballerina in Ashton"s Rhapsody, specifically designed to show off her speed and her amazing footwork. She was one of the last Ashton stylists, and it is in one of his roles that she is most fondly remembered - her Lise in La Fille mal Gardée was one of the best ever, and is happily preserved on video.

The last years of her career were remarkable for the wonderful rapport she struck up with Mukhamedov. In their first performances together in Sleeping Beauty she finally touched the greatness which for many years had seemed just out of her reach, and it was sad both for them and for their audience that their partnership was so short. In 1995 Collier - by then the mother of twin boys - decided the time had come to stop dancing; fortunately for us, and for future generations of dancers, she has been working since then in the Royal Ballet School, and now with the company, to hand on her knowledge and experience - and, we hope, something of her own particular style and quality.


Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker - The Royal Ballet (DVD-NTSC)

Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker - The Royal Ballet (DVD-NTSC)

The Royal Ballet Covent Garden captures all the fantasy and magic of one of the world's most popular..


Ballet Favorites (DVD-NTSC)

Ballet Favorites (DVD-NTSC)

This spectacular compilation showscases the talent of many of the greatest dancers of recent years, ..


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