Darcey Bussell

Submitted by on Oct 3, 2015

Darcey Bussell: ‘I know what it’s like to feel flattened and demoralised’

The Strictly judge and former ballerina talks about being bullied, empathising with Audrey Hepburn and why she can’t be cruel to Strictly contestants

3:45PM GMT 29 Dec 2014

Lights, cameras, hair, make-up… all the necessities for a celebrity photo shoot are in place and Darcey Bussell is in the middle of it, hopping about on one leg trying to change her tights in as discreet a manner as possible. We are all girls in the room, as it happens, but she has to choose a position in the chilly Georgian town house so she can’t be seen by the Soho office workers across the road. There is much writhing and giggling.

Off come the nude stockings and high heels that have shown off her spectacular legs. On with the lacy black tights and small boots that will take her zipping off to her next appointment. She is completely unselfconscious as if changing for gym in a school locker room. When the manoeuvres are over, it’s back to her customary poise – hair sleek, glamorously sheathed in a creamy Jasper Conran bespoke number, expectant and upright as only a trained dancer can be.

Hard as it is to believe now, Bussell stepped away from her luminous career as a prima ballerina at the age of 38 wondering whether she had anything else inside her. “That passion and love made me who I was,” she says. “Would I be the same person without it? It took me a long time to realise that I was going to be fine.”

Fine? Every week there is some reminder of how completely she has transformed herself from the mute, divinely gifted exponent of classical dance into a vivacious, opinionated ambassador for dance of every kind, most showily on the judging panel of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing . which reaches its final tomorrow night, but also through television programmes about the art form, through coaching and by her campaigning for dance in schools. After a shaky start, she has found her voice, if not several voices.

One of them is her documentary voice – expressive, coaxing, well-bred. She is about to focus it on the doe-eyed screen goddess Audrey Hepburn . whose slightly androgynous appeal was not unlike Bussell’s own and who started out in ballet. “She has inspired and intrigued me since I was about 10. She was dark and elfin, so different from the blonde bombshell actresses of the Fifties and Sixties. She had to play on her charms. She was very smart in that way. I don’t think her unique image will ever age.

Darcey BussellDarcey Bussell
Darcey BussellDarcey Bussell
Darcey BussellDarcey Bussell

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