Whilst still at the Royal Ballet School, choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan had noticed her exceptional technique and he created the lead role of Princess Rose in The Prince of the Pagodas for her when she was just 19 years old. Darcey was a Principal dancer at The Royal Ballet for almost 20 years (ret. 2007). She danced in over 80 different roles and had 18 roles made on her. Coming out of retirement, she led a troupe of 200 dancers when she danced the Spirit of the Flame in the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.
Darcey is patron of 14 charities, including being President of the Royal Academy of Dance, Campaign President of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the overseas Patron of the Sydney Dance Company.
Amongst her many activities she is a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, she presents The Royal Ballet’s worldwide cinema simulcasts and is a Principal coach at The Royal Ballet. She has made documentaries on dance including her ‘Looking for series’ with the BBC, focusing on Margot Fonteyn, Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Her most recent documentary ‘Dancing to Happiness’ explores the value of dancing in improving mental health and wellbeing.
Recently Darcey founded DDMIX (Diverse Dance Mix), a dance fitness program, whose primary aim is to have dance fitness incorporated into an expanded physical education in British schools.
Awarded a CBE in 2007, she was made a Dame Commander in the 2018 New Years honours list.
28 February 2019 | 11:05 - 11:25 | English | Keynote: Fostering Empathy through Dance
Dame Darcey Bussell DBE is the ambassador for Empathy at the Institute of Imagination in London, founded by progressive educationalist Sir Ken Robinson. Recognising the need to nurture this key human attribute, Darcey champions the role dance fitness in schools can play in achieving this. She points out that dance fitness is aerobic, social, totally inclusive and celebrates diversity. Darcey will discuss the benefits and effectiveness of her not-for-profit program DDMIX for Schools aimed at getting every child enjoying being active and appreciating others.