Why Dance Matters

In its podcast series, the Royal Academy of Dance asks remarkable people from the world of dance and beyond and all corners of the globe, why dance matters.

Why Dance Matters is a series of conversations with extraordinary people from the world of dance and beyond. It traces the impact of dance on their lives and asks why dance matters to them – and why it might matter to us all. The RAD inspires the world to dance, and we hope these insightful personal conversations – hosted by David Jays, editor of Dance Gazette, the RAD magazine – will delight and even surprise.

Ways to listen

Find our podcast on all the platforms listed here. Or, you can also listen by selecting an episode below.

Episode 50: Olga Smirnova

Broadcast on 18 January 2024

Why Dance Matters celebrates its 50th episode in conversation with one of the world’s great ballerinas. Olga Smirnova’s Giselle with Dutch National Ballet will be broadcast to international cinemas on 21 January. She joined the company after making headlines in 2022 with a courageous, life-changing decision to leave Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, she discusses stage fright (she never feels it), the challenges of being a ballerina in the age of smartphones, her momentous decision to leave Russia, and her profound sense of why dance matters.

Read more about Olga.

Series 7

Episode 1: Drew McOnie

Series 7 kicks off with Drew McOnie, British choreographer, theatre director, and one of the busiest people in show business. He danced with Matthew Bourne's…
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Episode 2: Jakob Wheway Hughes

Jakob was gold medallist at the Royal Academy of Dance's Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition 2023. The Fonteyn took place at His Majesty's Theatre in…
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Episode 3: Pam Tanowitz

Pam Tanowitz is now an in-demand choreographer – but her career has followed a unique trajectory. For years, she and her company had an under-the-radar…
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Episode 4: Aaron S. Watkin

Aaron S Watkin seems like a man who knows what he likes: perfect material to direct a leading ballet company, and to judge a leading…
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Episode 5: Benjamin Zephaniah

In this episode of Why Dance Matters, we revisit a conversation from October 2022, in tribute to the poet, performer and activist Benjamin Zephaniah, who…
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Episode 6: Nina Wadia

This festive episode visits the pantomime: that uniquely British blend of song, dance, and silliness. Explaining its appeal is the cherished comic actor, Nina Wadia,…
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Episode 50: Olga Smirnova

Why Dance Matters celebrates its 50th episode in conversation with one of the world's great ballerinas. Olga Smirnova's Giselle with Dutch National Ballet will be…
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Series 6

Episode 1: David Hallberg

The new season of Why Dance Matters opens with one of the great ballet princes – David Hallberg, star dancer and now artistic director of…
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Episode 2: Merritt Moore

Why Dance Matters often meets people whose interest in dance sits alongside expertise in a completely different field. Merritt Moore – (C) BBC – Photographer:…
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Episode 3: Wayne McGregor

Wayne McGregor, one of the world's leading choreographers, is an ideas man who makes abstract thought into thrillingly visceral dance. Photo: Pål Hansen. His collaborations…
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Episode 4: Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman's work stops hearts – in a good way. They capture the delirious rush of first love, above all in the Heartstopper series –…
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Episode 5: Mitchell Rayner

‘Living in the movement' is the motto of Australian Royal Academy of Dance teacher Mitchell Rayner. Enjoying and fully inhabiting your movement is a fantastic…
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Episode 6: Endalyn T. Outlaw

The RAD's flagship event, the Margot Fonteyn International Ballet Competition, gives young dancers a chance to learn from top professionals. This year's coaches include Endalyn…
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Episode 7: Jennifer White

Jennifer White is a choreographer who occupies a unique sweet spot between RAD ballet, contemporary dance, Kylie and the year's hottest movie: she is the…
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Previous series

Series 1

May – July 2021. Interviews include Xander Parish, Cathy Marston, Phil Chan and Céline Gittens.
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Series 2

September – November 2021. Interviews include James Whiteside, Leanne Benjamin, Libby Clegg and Ralph Heimans.
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Series 3

February – April 2022. Interviews include Carlos Acosta, Joyce DiDonato, Hofesh Shechter and Harper Waters.
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Series 4

October – November 2022. Interviews include Akram Khan, Dame Monica Mason, Charlotte Edmonds, and Jay Jay Revlon.
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Series 5

February – April 2023. Interviews include Tiler Peck, Tim Arthur, Raphael Ng, Ana Maria Campos, Francesca Harper, Giles Terera, and Dame Arlene Phillips.
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Take a seat

To celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of our global headquarters, we are releasing more £1,000 seats in the Aud Jebsen Studio Theatre for you to name after your dance school, an inspirational teacher, or a loved one.
Find out more