Jonathan Ollivier was tragically killed on his way to dance in the final performance in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man in London. A court has heard that the minicab driver that hit Ollivier’s motorbike was making a hands-free call on his mobile at the moment of the crash. He had headphones in both ears.
Ollivier came off his motorbike and crashed into a lamppost causing fatal head injuries on 9 August 2015. He was 38 and left two sons.
The prosecutor, Asha Misir, said, ‘This is a matter of causing death by careless driving… I submit that this offence could attract a sentence beyond the powers of this court.’
Judith Mackrell in The Guardian wrote,
He was particularly good in this last role, both intensely romantic and intensely flawed, combining a traditionally masculine power with an emotional delicacy. It was striking that when Ollivier joined Bourne’s company, New Adventures, in 2009, and made his debut in Swan Lake, it was as the male Swan, a role in which, according to the Wall Street Journal, he was even more compelling than Adam Cooper – the dancer who had first performed it back in 1995, and whom Ollivier had admiringly watched when he was still at school.
The Times’ obituary said,
Jonathan Ollivier was acclaimed as much for his skill as an actor as a dancer. His varied career encompassed the intensely theatrical works of Matthew Bourne as well as the more abstract avant-garde choreography of Michael Clark…
His height and handsome looks were matched by a natural charm and courtesy that made him hugely popular with both fellow dancers and backstage staff.
He was born in Northampton where, as the only boy studying ballet, he received a fair share of bullying, which made him a determined advocate for ballet for boys. After receiving an honorary fellowship from the University of Northampton, he said, ‘I don’t think people understand how athletic dance is,” he said. “It’s actually very close to training for martial arts .’
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.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.