2 September 2020 15:56

Darcey Bussell takes the helm of October’s Dance Gazette

The Royal Academy of Dance introduces Darcey Bussell, the final Dance Gazette guest editor in its centenary year.

Darcey Bussell. Photo by Helen Murray.

“My love of dance really came about by accident. My mother knew it would be good for my physical wellbeing (straightening out my knock knees!), but without her knowing, she had given me the opportunity to express myself through movement and to realise my strengths. Struggling at school with my dyslexia, I found I could understand dance: it empowered me and gave me great joy.

The essence of the RAD is all about empowerment. RAD teachers empower hundreds of thousands of young people every single year. The instruction of classical ballet provides key life skills of discipline, hard work, physical and mental wellbeing, the ability to collaborate and of course a life-long love of dance and music. At this difficult time, this work is so important.

It has been a pleasure and privilege to work on this issue of Dance Gazette.”

About Darcey

Born in London, Darcey Bussell first took ballet class as a hyperactive five-year-old but didn’t immediately enjoy it. ‘I was a rebel and would sit under the piano,’ she says. ‘Fortunately, I kept coming back and fell in love with it.’

School was a struggle until she was diagnosed with dyslexia. ‘I never regret having dyslexia,’ she says. ‘It’s given me a massive amount of resilience, which you need to keep striving as a professional in classical ballet.’

Becoming a Principal at the Royal Ballet at just 20, she put her stamp on classic ballets and created new works with Christopher Wheeldon and Twyla Tharp.

A crucial creative relationship was with choreographer Kenneth MacMillan, who first spotted her as a student and cast her in many of his ballets, including the premieres of The Prince of the Pagodas and Winter Dreams. She chose his Song of the Earth for her final performance with the Royal Ballet in 2007.

Her post-performance career has been full – including writing and broadcasting, making documentaries and seven years as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing – capped by becoming a Dame of the British Empire in 2018.

Since becoming its President in 2012, Darcey has visited countries from New Zealand, Australia and Singapore to the USA for the RAD. ‘The Academy has brought so much beautiful ballet into the lives of so many people,’ she says, ‘and I am extremely proud to be its President.’