Dame Darcey Bussell is a household name. Not only is she the finest British dancer of her time, becoming a Principal of The Royal Ballet aged 20, but she is also loved by younger people through her performance at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, appearing on the One Show and, of course, starring as a judge on Strictly Come Dancing.

To the delight of her young fans, she took a step back to help inspire a new generation of hopeful children who dream of having a career like hers. As part of its series of Inspiring People events, St Edward’s School hosted a talk in its North Wall arts centre, with the dancer telling the composer George Fenton, and star-eyed children, about the highs and lows of her career.

Inspiring her audience to achieve their goals, she stated that: “You need 90 per cent ambition and 10 per cent ability. It could have gone wrong but I put in 100 per cent to make it work.”

She told her audience to “always be themselves” adding: “You always want to be yourself on the stage and you don’t want to be anyone you’re not.”

She also advised people to be open to new ideas saying: “Being in the right place at the right time is very important and being a ‘yes’ person is very important. When I was young I had no idea what was in store for me but I was keen.”

Her inspiration was absorbed by the children and the themes of never giving up and aiming high will be crucial as they face challenges in their later lives.

One thing which stuck with me and others was her advice that: “You have to be prepared to fail and to have knocks but you have to come back stronger”.

Despite having dyslexia she still battled on, saying: “I had to stick my head in and grit my teeth.”

There were giggles when she admitted to not being able to tell her left from right, stating that: “Everyone would go one way and I would go the opposite way!”

Even those who don’t seek a future in the performing arts would do well to take her views into account. She is an example to all of us that, whatever problems we have, we can accomplish our dreams in whatever field we wish to succeed in.


The Cherwell School, Oxford