Professional dancer Jonathan Ollivier was killed in a motorbike accident hours before he was set to perform in central London. He was starring as Luca in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
The 38-year-old died just before he was supposed to perform in the final show Sunday. A black Mercedes saloon struck his motorbike in the early afternoon. The driver was arrested on suspicion of causing his death by dangerous driving, but he has since been bailed, according to BBC.
Paramedics and an air ambulance attempted to save his life, but Ollivier was pronounced dead at the scene. Sunday’s performance was cancelled, and his fellow cast members were said to be “shaken.”
Ollivier’s sister Rachel announced his death 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 xx,” Rachel wrote.
Ollivier was an incredibly majestic dancer with impeccable technique. But more impressively, words like inspire and nice keep coming up in all of the tributes to him online.
Matthew Bourne, choreographer of The Car Man, called Ollivier “one of the most charismatic and powerful dancers of his generation” and said he was “an inspiration and role model to several generations of young dancers who strived to emulate his enviable technique,” in a statement.
“In our grieving for this irreplaceable artist we take some comfort in the legacy of memories that he has left behind,” Bourne said.
Zizi Strallen, who starred opposite of Ollivier in The Car Man thanked him on Twitter and wrote, “You’ve inspired so many people to do what they love. You will be missed everyday.”
Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Karen Clifton tweeted her condolences as well. “Deepest condolences to the family and friends of one of the nicest and most talented dancers. Jonathan Ollivier,” she wrote.
Dance writer and critic Graham Watts also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Ollivier. “Jonathan Ollivier was a stunning dancer as well as very nice guy – sending condolences to his wife, Desiré, and his family,” he wrote.
Ollivier played a number of roles in Bourne’s company New Adventures including Speight in Play Without Words and The Swan in Swan Lake. He won plaudits for his role as The Swan in Bourne’s all-male production. And his lead performance in The Car Man was praised by critics for his “brooding power.”
Before New Adventures, Ollivier trained at the Rambart Ballet School. He also spent 8 years dancing at Northern Ballet Theatre, which is now titled Northern Ballet.
The artistic director of Northern Ballet, David Nixon, paid tribute to Ollivier as well. He called his death “a loss o 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.”
Ollivier was married to South African principal ballerina Desiré Samaai.