Ruan Crighton: Essex ballet dancer feared dead in Nepal crash

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A dance school director said she and her colleagues were “shattered” following news their successful former student was on board the plane that crashed in Nepal.

Ruan Crighton, 34, from Essex, was one of 72 people on the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed near Pokhara airport.

He had toured Europe as a professional ballet dancer having studied and worked in London, Finland and Slovakia.

Brentwood’s Central School of Dance’s Hazel Smith said “we are devastated”.

“We have wonderful fond memories of Ruan in class, assisting and inspiring younger pupils, performing and working backstage,” said Ms Smith.

“Central followed Ruan’s career, which grew from strength to strength, and we are so totally proud and feel privileged to have known Ruan – to watch him grow into the most wonderful, caring young man.”

Ms Smith said he achieved “outstanding” ballet exam results as a child, having initially joined for gymnastics, and later graduated from the Central School of Ballet in London in 2008.

“Ruan was a dynamic, energetic and engaged student,” said Central School of Ballet executive director Mark Osterfield.

“His passion and talent were enjoyed by international dance audiences.”

He worked at the Ballet of the Slovak National Theatre (SND) for the next five years, and despite telling the BBC he was nervous about not speaking the language, he spoke it “almost fluently” after two years.

Kohút Kristián, head dramaturg of the SND ballet, counted Mr Ruon as one of his best friends and said on behalf of the theatre: “Ruan was a boy with a big heart and an incredible sense of humour whose laughter and positive energy could light up the spaces of the theatre.”

Ruan spent a further six years, 2013-19, at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

A spokesman in Helsinki highlighted various roles he performed during several ballet tours, including The Nutcracker and Moominland.

He enrolled at the European School of Physiotherapy in Amsterdam after his 30th birthday – a career change – and was completing a placement at a spinal injury clinic in Kathmandu at the time of Sunday’s plane crash.

Ruan’s name and passport number was published by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal shortly after the crash.

Authorities were not expecting to find any survivors.

A UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman said it was supporting the family of a British man.

In a joint statement, Ruan’s friends Danny, Tom, Goz and Jono, who he met at the Central School of Ballet, said: “He was the one who flew the furthest and highest, having the biggest ambitions out of all of us.

“His death has left a hole in our friendship group that will never be filled.”

Ms Smith, who said Ruan continued to return and perform for the school’s annual prize giving in Brentwood, added: “Thank you Ruan for the catch-ups and laughter over tea. They will always be remembered”.

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