Test out those twinkle toes with Darcey Bussell
Prima ballerina Darcey Bussell shares her tips for budding dancers
How did you get into ballet?
My mother sent me to ballet classes when I was five to get rid of some energy – I was a horribly hyper child. I used to go every Saturday with my friends. To start with, I wasn’t interested in becoming a ballerina. But around the age of 11, when my friends were leaving ballet class, I decided it was something I wanted to pursue. My teacher triggered something in me, and I wanted to impress her, to keep on getting that bit better.
What are the benefits of ballet for children?
As I see with my own girls (Phoebe, ten, and Zoe, seven), when children get into a large space, they love to fill it. Music inspires you to move and dance is a wonderful way to express yourself. It can help children to be aware of their posture. It’s also a great way of keeping in shape without realising you’re doing anything – you can just get carried away with the music. The nice thing about ballet is it’s not competitive – I don’t think children feel the strain that they’re not picking up the steps. You just keep on trying and, you never know, next time it might sink in.
What’s the aim behind your new Magic Ballerina DVD?
It’s a natural move on from the Magic Ballerina series of books and aims to be a nice introduction to dance classes for children who are thinking about doing dance. The DVD is split into two sections, a practice session and two performance solos, and takes children through key positions and dance steps. The first performance solo has what I call ‘Harry Potter’ music, full of mystery and magic. I invite children to tell a story with movements, such as clearling a veil of imaginary mist out of the way. The second solo is a celebration solo, like in Act 3 of ballet, with all the vibrancy and volume of a full-on orchestra.
What role does dance play in your family’s life?
Both my children have enjoyed ballet classes, although Phoebe is now more into her swimming and her netball, and she loves the theatre. As I’m on the board of the Sydney Dance Company, we get quite a lot of complementary tickets to performances. I also recently took Phoebe to a contemporary dance performance at the Sydney Dance Company called The Land Of Yes And No, which was directed by Rafael Bonachela.
What do you enjoy doing as a family?
We live in Sydney, Australia, so naturally we spend a lot of time at the beach. The girls do a bit of boogie boarding. I wouldn’t say I was a great boogie boarder but I do like to go for a swim – I know how to dive through the waves. We’re also out in the park a lot with our spaniel poodles – Lolli and Pop. The girls thought up their names, which are great, until you have to call them in public…
For further details on Magic Ballerina Dress Up And Dance with Darcey Bussell, £19.99, visit Vivid Imaginations
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