News: Jonathan Ollivier Remembered

Monday 10 August 2015 by Clare Evans

Jonathan Ollivier (1977 - 2015) as Luca in The Car Man.
Photo: Chris Mann

Following the tragic death of Jonathan Ollivier on Sunday evening, and as messages come in from around the world, Matthew Bourne, Artistic Director of New Adventures has issued the following tribute on behalf of the company:

“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 including “The Swan”, the enigmatic “Speight” in “Play Without Words” and his final role as Luca in “The Car Man” which he was due to dance at last night’s final performance at Sadler’s Wells.

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.”

Alistair Spalding, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells also released a statement on behalf of the theatre:

“Jonathan Ollivier was a very talented dancer who performed at Sadler’s Wells on many occasions with both Northern Ballet Theatre and New Adventures, and was hugely admired by audiences and colleagues. We are shocked and saddened by this tragic accident. Our sincere condolences go to Jonathan’s family and friends.”

New Adventures have asked that any fans, audience members or colleagues past-or-present who wish to send messages of sympathy to Jonny’s family can send them by email to: or by post to: New Adventures, c/o Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, EC1R 4TN


“I felt like I’d seen the equivalent of a contemporary Baryshnikov: unbelieveably strong, but so light you never heard him land. It was a performance I told my partner later that I would probably never forget – one of those ‘I’m so lucky to have seen that’ moments. It is such a waste of such an incredible dancer.”Lisa Grainger, a Telegraph journalist who saw The Car Man the Friday before the accident. Read more: The Telegraph, 10 August 2015

“Ollivier was also known for his generosity towards younger colleagues. He once said he hoped to continue on stage for as long as his body would let him, and that he could think of doing no other career. Yet accounts of his ability to inspire and motivate others suggest Ollivier might have gone on to become as notable a teacher as he was a dancer.”Judith Mackrell. Read more: The Guardian, 10 August 2015

“Jonathan Ollivier was one of the most expressive dancers of his generation, the imposing muscularity of his performances characterised by a distinctive gracefulness of line that more often than not seemed almost poetic in its fluidity.”Michael Quinn. Read more: The Stage, 10 August 2015

A brief biography of Jonathan Ollivier (1977 – 2015)

Jonathan trained at the Rambert School of Dance and has been a principal dancer at Cape Town Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre and the Alberta Ballet. In addition to working with Michael Clark Jonathan also starred in the first UK tour of Dirty Dancing.

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

He was awarded an honorary fellowship to the Dance Critics Circle and nominated by them as Best Young Dancer (2003) and Best Male Dancer (2004).

Jonathan guest starred for major dance companies in the USA, South Africa and Germany and toured extensively around the world.

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