Broadcast on 1st December 2018
Darcey Bussell knows how important dancing has been throughout her life. As a prima ballerina, she found it gave her structure and confidence. And when she retired from her professional career 12 years ago, she realised just how crucial dancing had become. ‘About a year afterwards it came in this massive wave that I was missing something about who I was as a person, and it was dance basically.’ So today she still dances, ‘different styles of dance but just not taking it to the obsession I did with classical ballet’.
Since her retirement from professional ballet, Dame Darcey Bussell has become a formidable advocate for promoting dance at all stages of life, and to help not just the body, but just as importantly the mind. She has piloted dance classes for schoolchildren across the country and spoken in Parliament calling for dance to be a key part of the curriculum to help children’s fitness. She is aware that tackling our mental health crisis is an important challenge that affects many in the UK today and strongly believes that the value of dancing is undervalued in improving our mental health. So in this programme, Darcey’s mission is to meet a wide range of people using dance as therapy and as a result experiencing the joy of ‘dancing to happiness’.
In Manchester Darcey meets an inspiring choreographer and dancer, Kevin Turner. Kevin draws on his personal mental health experiences to help young people across the world and has returned to his home town to start a therapeutic dance project for young women who have been referred by a local support group. In the last 25 years, depression amongst teenagers has risen by 70% in the UK and the girls Kevin works with suffer from a range of conditions that affect all aspects of their lives. Darcey takes part in a six-week course to see if Kevin’s work can help the girls learn, often for the first time, just how much they can achieve.
At the University of Hertfordshire dancer turned scientist Dr Peter Lovatt is now at the cutting edge of dance research. He is part of a growing movement of practitioners using dance to help with mental health. Peter and his colleagues are researching to find out if the psychological benefits of social dance have a positive effect on people with degenerative conditions. They are focusing on Parkinson’s and at the class they run Darcey finds their work is delivering some surprising results.
In Bury, the Silver Swans are using dance to overcome the isolation and loneliness which so often troubles people when they retire. Darcey joins their weekly ballet class and hears their stories about the value they see in dancing. To the class’s surprise, she even takes them through one of their dances! In Edinburgh, Darcey meets the ladies and gentlemen of Morningside to understand how those lost to dementia – a condition that affects over 850,000 people in the UK – might be helped through music and movement.
At the end of her journey, Darcey returns to Manchester for the final rehearsals before the girls let their families see them perform. She talks to both girls and their mums about what the dance class has meant to them, and watches the hugely impressive dance they have created. It is a very emotional moment for all.
The show is no longer available on BBC iPlayer, however a short clip can be viewed below.
Presenter: Darcey Bussell Director: Pamela Gordon Editor: Ian Garvin Executive Producer: Ross Wilson Producer: Jonathan Skuse Production Manager: Paul McCaffery Production Company: Matchlight Ltd
Dr Peter Lovatt spent over 20 years working as a university academic. He set up the Dance Psychology Lab to understand dance and dancers from a psychological, scientific perspective. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and his teaching has been highly commended. Find out more about his academic life here
Peter Lovatt is an author and he has written two books: “The Dance Cure, the surprising secret to being smarter, stronger, happier” was first published by Short Books in the UK in 2020. “Dance Psychology, the science of dance and dancers” was first published in the UK in 2018. Peter has also writes commissioned articles. Find out more about his writing life here
Peter Lovatt is an international keynote speaker who delivers groovy keynotes which inspire, entertain and get minds and pulses racing. Peter has given keynote talks around the world and he has worked with organisations from different sectors, for example, in the banking, tech, creative, education, health and automotive industries. Find out more about his keynotes here
Peter Lovatt is a founding director of the Movement in Practice (MiP) Academy. The MiP Academy is a specialist provider of education in the psychology of movement and dance. MiP Academy is an accredited provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD), Continuing Education (CE) and Continuing Professional Education (CPE), providing both anytime learning and scheduled face-to-face learning opportunities. Find out more about MiP Academy here
Peter Lovatt became known as Dr Dance through his TV and media work. He first appeared as Dr Dance on the Graham Norton Show (BBC) in 2008 and Dr Dance has since made over 1000 appearances across all major UK TV and radio networks, in magazines and newspapers and on stage. Dr Dance has made several stage shows, including “Dance Dr Dance” (2010), “INSPIRED Psychology Danced” (2011) and “Boogie on the Brain” (2018). Find out more about Dr Dance here
Peter Lovatt lives on the beautiful north Norfolk coast with his partner and their two sons.
Find out more about Peter’s latest news here