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Matthew Bourne leads tributes to ‘charismatic and powerful’ dancer Jonathan Ollivier

Jonathan Ollivier Jonathan Ollivier, whose life will be celebrated at an event later this month.
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Matthew Bourne has led tributes to dancer Jonathan Ollivier, describing him as one of the most “charismatic and powerful” performers of his generation.

Ollivier died on August 9 in a motorbike accident, just hours before he was due to appear in the final performance of The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells.

In a tribute to the dancer, Bourne said: “Jonathan Ollivier was one of the most charismatic and powerful dancers of his generation; an intensely masculine presence tempered with tenderness and vulnerability made him the perfect casting for a string of triumphant roles in the New Adventures repertory.”

He went on to describe Ollivier as a “man of great warmth and charm” and said he was “loved and respected by his colleagues and adored by audiences who were mesmerised by his memorable performances on stage as well as his friendly and genuine personality at the stage door”.

Bourne added: “He was also an inspiration and role model to several generations of young dancers who strived to emulate his enviable technique and majestic stage presence.”

The choreographer said the events had “ripped at the heart of the New Adventures family” but added: “In our grieving for this irreplaceable artist, we take some comfort in the legacy of memories that he has left behind.”

Ollivier trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and was a principal dancer at Cape Town City Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Alberta Ballet.

As a principal dancer for Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures he played two seasons of Swan/Stranger in Swan Lake, Luca in The Car Man and Speight in Play Without Words.

Northern Ballet artistic director David Nixon described the dancer as an “extraordinary performer”.

“Jon’s untimely death is a loss to the world of dance and unbelievably tragic for his family. Jon’s legacy will live on through the memories of his performances and through the roles which he created. He will be very much missed. Our thoughts are very much with his family,” he said.

Royal Ballet soloist Bennet Gartside said on Twitter:

His Car Man co-star, Zizi Strallen, wrote:

Choreographer Arlene Phillips said:

Shadow secretary of state for culture Chris Bryant wrote:

A man who was stopped at the scene of yesterday’s accident has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He has been bailed until February next year.

Obituary: Jonathan Ollivier

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