Leanne still a Rockhampton girl ... and famous ballerina
IT'S been 34 years since Rockhampton ballerina Leanne Benjamin left her home, her teacher and her family to follow a dream to the Royal Ballet School.
In the years that followed, she would become known as one of the most beautiful ballerinas to ever grace the stage, before retiring in 2013 as the longest-serving principal ballerina in the Royal Ballet's history.
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This weekend she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia.
Yesterday, Bernie Benjamin recalled the days when his 16-year-old daughter left home to live in London.
"We weren't that fussed on her going…we would have liked her to go to the Australian Ballet School in Melbourne," Bernie said.
"I told her I'd take her to London to have a look…She hated cold weather so I took her in winter, but she was so dedicated and still wanted to go."
Her mother, Jill Benjamin said Leanne was so proud to have grown up in Rockhampton and still considers herself to be a Rocky girl at heart.
"Even though there is a distance, we are an extremely close family."
Leanne was in Rockhampton in December when she accepted an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts from CQUniversity.
While at home, she gave a talk at Delize's Restaurant to help raise money for the Rockhampton Blind Club, an organisation Bernie Benjamin has supported for more than 10 years.
Today she lives in London where she is married, has a son and studies interior design, while coaching the next generation of Royal ballerinas.