Tributes to London ballet student who died in Nepal plane crash

Ruan Calum Crighton (Instagram)
Ruan Calum Crighton (Instagram)

Tributes have been paid to an “outstanding” ballet dancer who was killed when his plane crashed in Nepal.

Ruan Calum Crighton, 34, from Essex, was among 72 people killed in the air disaster near Pokhara airport on Sunday.

He had toured Europe as a professional ballet dancer having studied trained at London’s Central School of Ballet before an 11-year career as a dancer first for the Slovakian National Ballet and then the Finnish National Ballet.

Rescue teams work to retrieve bodies from the wreckage (REUTERS)
Rescue teams work to retrieve bodies from the wreckage (REUTERS)

Brentwood’s Central School of Dance where Mr Crighton received “outstanding” ballet results as a child revealed their devastation.

Its director Hazel Smith told the BBC: “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 added: “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.”

Seventy-two people were on board the Yeti Airlines TR 72 flight from the capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, with the death toll rising to 68 on Sunday.

Fifteen foreign nationals were among those on board, according to Nepal’s aviation authority.

It was not clear what caused the crash, Nepal’s worst air accident in three decades.

The flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder have been retrieved from the site.

Mr Crighton first joined the Central School of Ballet, London in 2005 before becoming a dancer with the Slovak National Theatre in Slovakia from 2008 to 2013.

He then became a valued member at the prestigious Finnish National Opera and Ballet company in Finland from 2013 to 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile.

More recently, Mr Crighton had been enrolled at the European School of Physiotherapy in Amsterdam. He was supposed to graduate next year.

One dancer at Slovak National Theatre told the Irish Daily Mail that news of his death deeply upset him.

“I got the info yesterday, but I was hoping it wasn’t him.

“Ruan was one of my best friends. We dance together on stage for years… I’m devastated. It is very hard to say something about [him] right now. But first he was a sunshine.’

Johanna Järventaus, Communications Director of Finnish National Opera and Ballet, said she was aware of the tragedy.