Dancing to happiness with Darcey Bussell

2 January 2019

In December, Company Chameleon was delighted to feature in a new BBC Two documentary with Dame Darcey Bussell.

The one-off documentary titled Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness and directed by Pamela Gordon, investigated why dance, more than any other form of exercise, has such a positive effect on mood and behaviour.

In her quest for answers, Darcey visited Company Chameleon and followed Kevin Edward Turner, our Co-Artistic Director, as he led a series of workshops with young people from mental health charity, 42nd Street.

Kevin said, “I’m a great believer in the power of dance, as I know how it has helped me in my life, specifically in relation to my own experience with bi-polar disorder. In this project with 42ndStreet, young people who are struggling with their mental health, were given the space and opportunity to explore their own challenges and feelings through dance and movement.

Over six-weeks of workshops, Darcey came in and observed the project and the creative process as it unfolded. She questioned me and the young people, commented on the process and gave her feedback and some really lovely insights to the group. She was full of curiosity and respect and her presence created a positive energy in the room.”

Since her retirement from professional ballet, Darcey has become a formidable advocate for promoting dance in all areas of life. She believes that dancing is vital to keep her on an ‘even keel’ and thinks that it can be an important tool for everyone’s mental health.

Speaking about the programme on BBC breakfast, Darcey said, “Dance helps us emotionally and helps us express feelings we don’t know how to express verbally. It makes us understand what we’re going through. It’s been the most amazing journey for me to see people use dance in different ways.”

Kevin  said: “From touring with Company Chameleon, performing as a professional dancer and through delivering workshops, I’ve seen the positive impact that seeing and taking part in dance can have on people. This is something I’ve seen again and again all over the world and the documentary demonstrates this.

 It shows the transformative power of dance and how it is a positive force for everyone involved – physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. It’s engaging viewing as you get to see the shift and transition that the young people make. As their ability to engage with their feelings and express them through dance increases, so does theirconfidence and self-belief, and this is so inspiring to see.”

Simone Spray, Chief Executive Officer at 42ndStreet said: “The project between Company Chameleon and 42nd Street really brings into focus the hugely positive impact that being given the space and support to express yourself through dance can have on mental health and wellbeing. The young people involved did not see themselves as dancers, but they were encouraged and inspired by Kevin’s honest coaching skills and Darcey’s interest and they were able to achieve a new level of insight and self- confidence. Many of the young people have previously tried a whole variety of different therapies and treatments over the years and for some, this project has resulted in higher levels of recovery than anything else.

Alongside spending time with Company Chameleon, in the documentary, Darcey also attended dance sessions for the elderly and newly retired, and dance classes and therapy for those with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Catch up and watch Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness on BBCiPlayer here.
The programme is a Matchlight production made for BBC Two,

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