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Jonathan Ollivier dies in motorbike crash

Posted on August 10, 2015

jonathan ollivier

jonathan-ollivierThe dancer Jonathan Ollivier has died in a motorbike accident, hours before he was due to perform in the final show of The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells. He was 38.


Ollivier was riding his motorbike in central London on Sunday, August 10 when he was involved in a collision with a car. Despite the efforts of police and paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The driver of the car was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. The final Sadler’s Wells performance was cancelled.


Ollivier’s sister, Rachel Ollivier, wrote on Facebook: “To all my beautiful little bro friends, it is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you that Jon tragically died today. We love him and will miss him massively.”


Born in Northampton, Jonathan Ollivier trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. He made his debut with CAPAB (now named Cape Town City Ballet) and went on to dance with Northern Ballet, where he was a member of the company for eight years, creating roles including Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. With Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, his roles included the Swan in Swan Lake and Luca in The Car Man. He was married to the dancer Desiré Samaai and had two sons.


Matthew Bourne said in a statement: “Yesterday we lost our ‘Swan’ and our ‘Car Man’. 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…


“A man of great warmth and charm, Jonny was a true gent, 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. 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.


“Yesterday’s events have ripped at the heart of the New Adventures family and we join together to send our heartfelt condolences to all of Jonny’s family and friends. In our grieving for this irreplaceable artist we take some comfort in the legacy of memories that he has left behind.”


David Nixon, director of Northern Ballet, paid tribute to Ollivier as “an extremely valued member of Northern Ballet and an extraordinary performer… When I arrived at Northern Ballet I was inspired by the engaging charisma, strength and natural acting instincts of Jon. He soon became an integral part of my work and was involved in most of my creations.


“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.”



Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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