Tait Leanne Benjamin Awards Board

Tait Leanne Benjamin Awards Board

We are delighted to welcome Meredith Daneman to our Tait Leanne Benjamin Awards Board

Isla Baring OAM photo by Angus Forbes

In 2009 Isla Baring was awarded the Order of Australian Medal (OAM) general division for her service to the arts — supporting young Australian musicians and performing artists!

Isla Violet Baring OAM founded The Tait Memorial Trust in 1992 in memory of her father, Sir Frank Tait and his brothers, who played such an important part in the establishment of theatre and the performing arts in Australia. Isla’s mother, the singer Viola Tait, inspired her to organise a fundraising concert in support of a young Australian singer, Liane Keegan, who was newly arrived in London. It kicked off with a Christmas Concert at Australia House. The concert was a great success, became the foundation of our yearly events and Liane is now singing major roles in Berlin.

Leanne Benjamin in action.
Leanne Benjamin in Requiem, The Royal Ballet © ROH/Tristram Kenton, 2011

Australian dancer Leanne Benjamin is a former Principal of The Royal Ballet. She joined The Royal Ballet School at the age of 16 and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (later Birmingham Royal Ballet) in 1983. In 1992 she joined The Royal Ballet as a First Soloist and was promoted to Principal at the end of her first Season. Benjamin retired at the end of the 2012/13 Season, after 20 years as a Principal with The Royal Ballet. In 2005 she received an OBE in recognition of her services to dance.

Benjamin was born in Rockhampton in Queensland, Australia, and began dancing at the age of three. After training locally she followed her older sister to study at The Royal Ballet School, and while at the School won the 1980 Adeline Genée gold medal and the 1981 Prix de Lausanne. At Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet she was promoted to principal in 1987; the following year she joined London Festival Ballet as a principal and in 1990 joined Deutsche Oper Ballet.

Benjamin’s wide repertory included Juliet, Manon, the Firebird and Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), among many others, and creating new roles for choreographers including Alastair Marriott, Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. She was one of the last dancers of The Royal Ballet to work with Ninette de Valois, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan. Her final performance at the Royal Opera House was as Mary Vetsera in Mayerling on 15 June 2013, a role she first danced with the Company on 10 November 1992. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016.

Source: The Royal Ballet website

Meredith Daneman

Meredith Daneman is a former dancer with both the Royal Ballet, to which she won a scholarship in the late 1950’s, and the Australian Ballet Company. She saw Fonteyn dance many times. Meredith Daneman has written two highly-acclaimed novels. One of which, Margot Fonteyn, is the accepted definitive biography of Dame Margot Fonteyn published by Penguin. She lives in London.