ROCKY RECOGNITION: Leanne Benjamin, pictured here in The Judas Tree, has been named as one of the best nine ballet dancers in the contemporary era.
ROCKY RECOGNITION: Leanne Benjamin, pictured here in The Judas Tree, has been named as one of the best nine ballet dancers in the contemporary era. Dance Australia Magazine

Rockhampton ballerina recognised as of the greatest ever

THREE years after her retirement, Rockhampton ballerina Leanne Benjamin has again been recognised as one of the greatest ballerinas to ever grace the stage.

Ms Benjamin danced all over the world and retired in 2013 as the longest serving principal ballerina in the history of the Royal Ballet Company.

She was recently named among the nine best ballet dancers in the contemporary era, along with other recipients of the English Critic's Circle National Dance Awards.

The former Range Convent schoolgirl was awarded the world's most prestigious dance recognition twice since the awards began in 1999.

Her parents, Bernie and Jill Benjamin, still live in Rockhampton, although Leanne now resides in London.

"We were very excited ... it was a real surprise," Jill said.

"I just thought it was lovely that a little Rocky girl was named one of the best from all around the world. It's a great honour being the only Australian.

"We are delighted, and she's delighted."

Leanne trained in Rockhampton under Valeria Hansen and was accepted into the Royal Ballet School in 1980, following in her sister Madonna's footsteps.

The following year she won the world's two most prestigious ballet competitions; the Genee Gold Medal and the Prix de Lausanne.

She was also awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to dance in 2005 and an Order of Australia (OAM) last year.

She now studies interior design and helps train the next generation of ballerinas.

Top Talent

The nine best female ballet dancers you should know, according to The Culture Trip:

Tamara Rojo

Natalia Osipova

Daria Klimentová

Marianela Nuñez

Agnes Oaks

Leanne Benjamin

Alina Cojocaru

Miyako Yoshida

Zenaida Yanowsky


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