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Richard Farley 1935 - 2023

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ROH tribute

Remembering Richard Farley (1935-2023)

Farley is remembered for his charismatic dancing and evocative photography of The Royal Ballet






His wife was interviewed in 2022 for the Ballet Association and talked of him and their life together.  Sad news that he has died.

Johanna Adams Farley

Senior Stage Manager, The Royal Ballet Ballet




She’s married to an ex-principal dancer of the company (Richard Farley) who is older than she but sadly suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and though mentally so brilliant is very frail. He was a beautiful dancer and also a wonderful photographer who worked before digital photography came along. He stopped dancing in 1968 and worked for a lot of magazines, being sent on difficult assignments because he was very diplomatic and could get the photos. Johanna recalled an occasion when he was sent to take photos of Richard Burton who was playing Tito at his villa in Yugoslavia. After three days waiting, eventually he was summoned to the villa in the early hours of the morning but after four frames, Burton said that’s it. Richard asked to be given more time to do justice to Burton and himself. His tact worked and he was fabulous in the way he dealt with them. He was invited to stay for lunch, and Liz Taylor appeared looking beautiful though he wasn’t allowed to photograph her.


In 2002 she and Richard went to a small medieval village called Lagrasse in SW France and by the end of the week they’d bought a medieval pile of stone. She thought it would be wonderful to bring some dancers to perform in the Abbey grounds and in 2009 village friends said why not? At the start of the next season Johanna approached Marianela Nunez asking if she and Thiago Soares would come – she said of course and many of the dancers were keen to join. Harlequin loaned the floor and agreed to transport it for free and have done it ever since. A lighting rig came from a French company and they also put up seating. Johanna brought along an advertising poster for 2018 featuring Ed Watson who, along with Marianela, Thiago, Sergei Polunin, Yuhui Choe, Matt Ball, Frankie Hayward, Marcelino Sambe, Gary Avis, and Mara Galleazi, put on two shows, this time on the rugby pitch!  This was their last show before the pandemic brought them to a halt but they’re determined to go back in 2023.


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He had a wonderful presence as a dancer and was strikingly handsome.  I used to see him so often with the touring company and still have vivid memories of him, a beautiful Hamlet and the best ever gypsy lover in Two Pigeons. We young fans were stricken when we learnt he had left to pursue a career as a photographer - but as a photographer he left a fine body of work. RIP

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