A little girl in ballet shoes stands proudly wearing a pink tutu, her hair tied into pigtails. She has just won both the Adeline Genee Gold Medal and Prix de Lausanne award.
Leanne Benjamin danced for Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, London Festival Ballet, and Deutsche Oper Ballet Berlin before joining the Royal Company as principal ballerina in 1992. She retired just before turning forty as principal ballerina.
Early Life and Education
Leanne Benjamin was born and raised in Rockhampton, a small town located in central Queensland known for its hardworking families. At three years old she began taking ballet classes as part of a supportive environment where strong individuals could accomplish anything with hard work and independence.
At 16, she joined the Royal Ballet School and won both an Adeline Genee gold medal and Prix de Lausanne award. From there she performed with Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, London Festival Ballet, and Deutsche Oper Ballet before going back into academia and writing books about ballet.
She has performed many roles including Juliet, Mary Vetsera and Odette/Odile from Swan Lake as well as choreographed new roles for Wayne McGregor, Kim Brandstrup, Christopher Wheeldon and Alastair Marriott. In 2021, her autobiography Built for Ballet was published revealing how her personality, upbringing, work ethic and other factors have all played into two decades of success onstage.
At first glance, nothing in this photo of a four-year-old girl in a red velvet tutu at Rockhampton Eisteddfod with the caption: “The Tiniest Competitor” would indicate she would become one of Australia’s foremost professional ballet dancers performing for royalty and celebrities alike.
As she traveled from Central Queensland to London for Royal Ballet School study, she packed one black suitcase containing several pieces of poorly fitting corduroy clothing and an abundance of passion for dance.
Benjamin danced for over 21 years at the Royal Ballet and is widely revered among her generation of dancers. She created roles for choreographers including Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon as well as being one of the last dancers to work alongside Ninette de Valois and Frederick Ashton.
Achievement and Honors
Leanne Benjamin was an esteemed principal dancer of the Royal Ballet for 21 years, performing both classical and neoclassical repertoire roles across classical, neoclassical, contemporary and neo-classical repertoire. As choreographer for Wayne McGregor, Michael Corder, Kim Brandstrup Alastair Marriott & Alexei Ratmansky choreographies respectively and being awarded membership into Order of Australia as an Order of Australia member.
In 2021, Leanne Benjamin published her autobiography Built for Ballet in both Australia and the UK. In it she recounts both the joys and hardships that accompany professional ballet dancing. Leanne holds Honorary Fellowship with University of Central Queensland and received a Queensland Agent-General Award. Additionally she serves as Patron for Tait Memorial Trust Leanne Benjamin Awards which offer young Australian dancers opportunities to study at Royal Ballet School.
Benjamin does not intend to write a traditional account of her career in Built for Ballet (Melbourne Books, 2021). Instead, in it she examines how an individual dancer’s character traits, upbringing and work ethic affect the trajectory of their stage life.
This book features a photograph of four-year-old Benjamin at the Rockhampton Eisteddfod, dressed in her tutu and holding onto her ribbon – an intimate image of an ambitious child with big ambitions.
She danced for four companies, reaching principal status at Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet and English National Ballet before being recommended to join the Royal Ballet as Kenneth MacMillan recommended her in 1992. Since joining, she has created roles for Wayne McGregor, Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky while touring internationally and working with directors such as De Valois and MacMillan.
As of this writing, her net worth is estimated at an estimated $5 Million. She has made significant sums through her career as both ballet dancer and fashion designer as well as through YouTube channel ads, brand collaborations and music releases.
She has also served as a cast member on Luxury Dallas reality show, making a name for herself as a TV personality and garnering significant popularity via TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
She and Aaron own Garden Answer LLC, which they have run successfully for more than 10 years and which serves as an income stream for them both. These hardworking couple have not taken anything for granted during this time.