Darcey at the Royal Ballet School

Darcey Bussell

Ex-prima ballerina and Royal Academy of Dance President Darcey Bussell’s career will be displayed in the form of memorabilia at the Royal Ballet School’s museum in west London this summer. The free exhibition will feature photographs and costumes from Bussell’s personal collection, including her Princess Rose costume from Kenneth MacMillan’s 1989 production The Prince of the Pagodas: it was after this that she was made a Principal of the Royal Ballet at the young age of 20.

The exhibition, called ‘Darcey Bussell: from Student to Star of The Royal Ballet’, will run from 6 May to 30 October, and will mark the fifth anniversary of the Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre in Richmond. The museum has claimed to be the first dedicated ballet museum in the UK, offering much to its visitors.

In terms of memorabilia, the tunic Bussell wore for her final performance with the company in the 2007 production of MacMillan’s Song of the Earth will be on show as the last costume she wore, as will her tutu from the revival of Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia in 2004. These pieces are thought to attract lots attention, considering Bussell’s stature as such an iconic figure in dance. Also on display will be film footage and artefacts such as a plaster-cast of Bussell’s foot ‘en pointe’ used for a waxwork, and a sketch by artist Allen Jones as preparation for his 1994 portrait of the ballerina for the National Portrait Gallery.

These objects are also particularly meaningful for Bussell too, because each evokes memories of particular moments in her life as a dancer; from her first Royal Ballet School reports, to the costumes she wore in performances on stage at the Royal Opera House.

BBC’s ballet season

BBC2 LogoAs part of a major season of programmes on the BBC, which will also include rare footage of Margot Fonteyn in Sleeping Beauty from the 1950s, ex-Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell will reveal the ballerinas who have inspired her throughout her career and out the other side. BBC2 will present Darcey’s Ballerina Heroines, on 1 March in which she will discuss the dancers who were pivotal in her training and career. The programme will also explore the “history of the ballerina through the female ballet stars who came before her”.

The ballet season will be shown across BBC2 and BBC4 and will feature Fonteyn ’59 – Sleeping Beauty, an edited hour of highlights from Fonteyn’s appearance in Sleeping Beauty in 1959 which has rarely been seen since being filmed. It will be the first time viewers have seen extracts of the version of the ballet since its original screening, and will be broadcast on BBC4 on 7 March.

Meanwhile, Dancing in the Blitz – How WW2 Made British Ballet will be shown on BBC4 on 5 March and will see Birmingham Royal Ballet director David Bintley explore how the Second World War “was the making of British ballet”. It shows how the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, later the Royal Ballet, was formed during the war.

The season will conclude on 9 March with BBC4’s Good Swan, Bad Swan – Dancing Swan Lake, in which English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo will take viewers behind the scenes as she prepares to perform one of the most challenging roles in classical ballet within Swan Lake. Rojo will reveal her insights on the role’s physical and psychological challenges while the season as a whole will give viewers a real glimpse behind the scenes of the ballet world.

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition

The judging panel and choreographer for the Final of the 2013 Genée International Ballet Competition has been announced by the Royal Academy of Dance in the run up to its flagship competition, fondly known as the Genée. The Genée is one of the largest annual ballet competitions in the world and is widely recognised in the dance industry, with past winners going on to dance with some of the best companies.

Retired Principal ballet dancer and recently appointed RAD President Darcey Bussell CBE, Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare and Scottish Ballet Artistic Director Christopher Hampson will be judging the Final at this year’s Genée, to be held in Glasgow from 20-29 September in association with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Ballet. Hampson has been an active supporter of the Genée since 2003 when he took on the role of the Commissioned Choreographer.

The panel will select medallists from the entrants, the rising stars of ballet, who will perform variations choreographed by Royal Ballet Choreographic Apprentice Robert Binet, and also those from either 19th or 20th century classical repertoire. The entrants will have the chance to interpret new choreography from Binet, with both dancers and choreographer learning from each other. Binet’s work will be performed by both male and female competitors and will be premiered at the Final, which will take place at the Theatre Royal Glasgow on 29 September 2013. Public performances by semi-finalists will take place on 26th and 27th September at the New Athenaeum Theatre, Glasgow.

The Genée attracts high levels of talent from young dancers all over the world who have passed their RAD Advanced 2 exam. The Genée gives the judges, audience and entrants alike the chance to see the new generation of ballet talent tackle fantastic and renowned choreography on an international stage in a showcase of international dance talent.

Strictly Come Dancing Contestants Revealed!

Strictly Come Dancing

After months of speculation the Strictly Come Dancing line-up has finally been announced, dispelling all previous rumours surrounding the tenth series. In addition to the contestants, ex-prima ballerina and new Royal Academy of Dance President Darcey Bussell will also be joining the show as a new judge on the panel. Bussell will be trading her trademark pointe shoes and tutu for score cards, and has even been dabbling in some ballroom practice herself.

Denise Van Outen is presumed to be a favourite on SCD. The presenter-turned-actress has not only starred in West End shows but has even released her own dance-fitness DVD. Van Outen is married to Lee Mead, winner of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Any Dream Will Do, and she has also been a panel member on Lloyd Webber’s talent searches. Girls Aloud pop star Kimberley Walsh will also be competing, as well as Tracey Beaker actress Dani Harmer who finished runner-up in Let’s Dance For Sport Relief this spring. Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton will be donning the fishnets and New Yorkers with fantastic fitness levels and a huge competitive streak, alongside 56-year-old former model Jerry Hall and Fern Britton. Ex-Emmerdale star Lisa Riley will also be donning sparkling costumes, making the females alone a strong pull for the show.

In terms of male competition, another member of Team GB will be appearing as a hot favourite, Olympic gymnast Louis Smith who may even add a back flip to his routines in his dapper costumes. Nicky Byrne from Westlife, actors Colin Salmon and Sid Owen and cricketer Michael Vaughan are also to be thrown into the mix of fourteen hopefuls alongside their professional partners, as well as potential comics Daybreak presenter Richard Arnold and Johnny Ball, who’s daughter Zoe was a finalist on SCD series three.

However the dancefloor turns, this season’s Strictly is too good to miss!

The Olympic Spirit

Darcey Bussell Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony

As the one of the most anticipated parts of the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, dance and ballet in particular proved themselves as a continually powerful and strong art form. Darcey Bussell and her corps de ballet of a 200-strong ensemble formed the final section of the Ceremony, drawing huge support and countering many political arguments that tutus and pointe shoes should not be as important as they are perceived, and proved, to be.

The ensemble of flame-haired Mohicans included dancers from The Royal Ballet and their counterparts from other British dance companies, such as English National Ballet and non-professional dancers who took part through auditioning. The red and orange leotard clad piece, Phoenix of the Flame, was choreographed by Alastair Marriott and Christopher Wheeldon for the climax of the three-hour spectacular, forming the crux of the British and Olympic spirit.

Bussell came out of her retirement in order to feature in the extra special production as a former Royal Ballet Principal. She descended onto the centre of the stage on a flaming phoenix where she joined Royal Ballet principals Gary Avis, Edward Watson, Nehemiah Kish and Jonathan Cope for a performance inspired by the Olympic flame and spirit to encompass the incredible atmosphere and talent of the Games.

Despite retiring in 2007, Bussell has continued to be active in the art of classical ballet, tights and all. Earlier this year she was announced as a judge for the next season of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, and as the fourth President of the 92-year old Royal Academy of Dance.

Image courtesy of the Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Darcey Bussell is Back!

Darcey Bussell

Five years ago, Royal Ballet principal ballerina Darcey Bussell, arguably the greatest British dancer since Margot Fonteyn, retired and moved to Australia, putting away her pointe shoes. She has now returned to the UK and has recently been elected, tutu training and all, as the new president of the Royal Academy of Dance, one of the world’s most influential dance training organisations. Bussell is also due to resume her role as a judge on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in the autumn, digging out her New Yorkers and fishnet tights again.

The RAD, which was founded in 1920 to reinvent dance teaching, has a syllabus that is now taught to 250,000 students in 79 countries. The RAD aims to promote knowledge, understanding and practice of dance internationally, and Bussell follows in the ballet shoe footsteps of another former prima ballerina, Dame Antoinette Sibley, who retired after 21 years as President. Already Bussell talks of the RAD approaching an even wider range of dance styles in order to remain at the forefront of the evolving arts scene. Bussell is already re-entering the world of British ballet in additionally becoming a patron of The New English Ballet Theatre which is dedicated to supporting home-grown performers.

Bussell cites Sir Kenneth MacMillan as her dance inspiration, one of the great choreographers of the twentieth-century, who helped revive full-length ballets in Britain. He was first to recognise Bussell’s potential and as a result she became the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal ballerina at 20 years old. Years on, Bussell’s energy is still impressive, and her post-retirement activities have included a children’s dancewear range, the Magic Ballerina series of children’s books, and pilates. She is the new face of Sanctuary Spa skincare and has been working on an autobiographical picture book.

Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.


Darcey Bussell Elected as President of RAD

Darcey Bussell

World-renowned Prima Ballerina Darcey Bussell CBE has been elected as President of the Royal Academy of Dance, becoming the fourth President in the organisation’s 92 year history. RAD is an international dance teacher education and training organisation with approximately 13,000 members in 79 countries. The Academy promotes the knowledge, practice and understanding of dance internationally through educating and training of dance teachers and dance students and providing examinations to reward achievement and spread the influence of dance further.

Whilst not returning to her tutu and pointe shoes, Bussell follows in the footsteps of Dame Antoinette Sibley who retired in April after 21 years. As one of the world’s most influential dance training organisations, Bussell is to join RAD at a time of growth and increasing public interest in all forms of dance, encouraging more and more people to engage with the art and dust off their dance shoes. Since her retirement from the stage in 2007, Bussell has continued to be active in the dance world, embodying huge passion and vigour for the sustainment of the art form in light of the many cuts to funding made by the Arts Council England in April 2011. Despite much disappointing news for dance organisations all over the country, tap shoes, character shoes and jazz shoes alike prevailed, continuing to dance and transforming 2012 into a huge “dance year”.

Bussell’s passion for all forms of dance makes her the ideal candidate for the role of President, and an ideal role model to lead RAD towards its centenary in 2020, investing in the future of dance for the whole sector. As an organisation that engaged with national and international projects alike, RAD hopes to remain at the forefront of dance education and training, providing a wealth of resources for all its members and making an outstanding contribution to dance. RAD prides itself on providing some of the very best quality of training for dancers worldwide, combining quality with enjoyment and the love of dance.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Darcey Bussell To Join Strictly Come Dancing

Darcey Bussell

Prima Ballerina Darcey Bussell CBE is due to join BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing judging panel when it returns in autumn 2012. Having seen her take off her tutu for the last time following her farewell performance from The Royal Ballet in 2007, she will leave her pointe shoes behind in the move to Strictly… swapping them possibly for New Yorkers! Darcey may be regarded as one of the most famous and accomplished ballerinas of Great Britain, performing as a guest artist with leading international ballet companies, such as the New York City Ballet, alongside her Royal career.

Strictly Darcey

Darcey has previously appeared as a guest judge on Strictly in 2009, during which she performed a jive with Strictly professional Ian Waite, demonstrating her inspirational capacity to engage with the wider dance and commercial sector aside from classical ballet. It can be supposed the Darcey’s influence on the judging panel will be one of great force and strength, capturing the nation’s hearts as she does so well, emphasising the virtuosic nature of dance and applying this to the lines of the Strictly characteristics. Her poise and glamour will add to an already sparkling aspect of the television dance scene, with Darcey continuing her central role in the development of quality dance and entertainment.

Dance On TV

The expanse of dance on television is overwhelming; it indicates that dance will continue to spread its influence in this way and gain more and more recognition in all sectors, encouraging more people to don their dance tights and snap up extravagant new leotards. Darcey has the experience and “qualifications” to do this, and constructively critique the participants in a meaningful and insightful way for audiences, in her charismatic and charming manner.

Darcey Bussell will be joining the panel to sit alongside head judge Len Goodman, Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli, viewed as a fantastic addition to the Strictly team.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.