Jonathan Ollivier played Luca in Matthew Bourne's The Car Man.
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Jonathan Ollivier was was aged 38 when he died.
Jonathan Ollivier was was aged 38 when he died.


Choreographer Matthew Bourne has paid tribute to dancer Jonathan Ollivier who has died in a motorbike accident.

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The 38-year-old died on Sunday hours before he was due to perform in the final show of Bourne’s production of The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Bourne called the ballet dancer “one of the most charismatic and powerful dancers of his generation”.

A driver arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving has now been bailed.

Ollivier worked on a number of roles with Bourne’s company New Adventures, including The Swan in Swan Lake and Speight in Play Without Words.

His family announced his death. His sister Rachel Ollivier wrote on Facebook that “it is with a heavy heart that we have to tell you that Jon tragically died today”.

She described him as her “beautiful little bro” and said “we love him and will miss him massively xx”.

Ollivier was riding in Clerkenwell in central London when the accident happened, police said.

He was involved in a collision with a black Mercedes shortly after 11:00 BST on Sunday. Paramedics and an air ambulance tried to save his life, but he was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before noon.

A driver arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving has now been bailed until February 2016.

Sunday’s performance of The Car Man was cancelled.

Jonathan Ollivier played Luca in Matthew Bourne's The Car Man.
Jonathan Ollivier played Luca in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man.

Bourne said: “Yesterday’s events have ripped at the heart of the New Adventures family.

“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.”

He described the dancer as “an intensely masculine presence tempered with tenderness and vulnerability”.

“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 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.”

Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan in Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.
Jonathan Ollivier as The Swan in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.

The Car Man is a production set in 1960s America and loosely based on Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen.

His lead performance had been praised by critics, with The Telegraph’s Rachel Ward writing that he brought “brooding power and danger of a matador” to the role.

Ollivier also spent eight years at The National Ballet Theatre (now called Northern Ballet).

David Nixon, the artistic director of Northern Ballet, paid tribute to Ollivier and spoke of the shock of learning of his “tragic death”.

“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.”

Nixon said when he arrived at the company he 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. Most memorable will always be his incredibly powerful and unforgettable Heathcliff opposite Charlotte Talbot’s Cathy. It was an inspired and privileged moment for me as a choreographer,” he said.