You might think what with judging Strictly Come Dancing, being a mum of two girls and taking part in various documentaries that newly-honoured Dame Darcey Bussell, might have quite enough on her plate – especially given the former prima ballerina, now aged 48, is meant to have retired over a decade ago!
And yet here I am stood in a dance studio in Sadler’s Wells at 9am with a fresh-faced Darcey limbering up at the barre as she excitedly invites us to have a sneak preview of her latest project. This is her brand-new fitness DVD, DDMIX, based on the dance class programme she’s already rolled out across the country, both in adult classes and in children’s sessions in schools.
A diverse mix of all different dance styles – from Bollywood to 1920s, salsa to jive – to suit beginners and dancers alike, Darcey reveals it was initially young people – and specifically her own two daughters, Zoe and Phoebe, that inspired the whole project in the first place.
“I realised that all my daughters were doing at school was competitive sport and I wanted them to have something that was active but didn’t feel competitive. Something they could just participate in and have fun, without worrying if they were any good at it,” she says.
“I tried out all my routines with my youngest daughter first. She’s not shy and she quite often wanted to put her own moves in,” she laughs.
“My mum sent me to dance classes to exhaust me so now we go into schools teaching DDMix as part of the curriculum so kids can understand how they can push their bodies and exhaust themselves.” Now the DVD is out, Darcey hopes it will inspire whole families to get together and have a go.
After all, Darcey says doing these dance-based fitness work-outs since she’s retired – she does no other exercise apart from walking the dog – has helped hugely in staying healthy and strong in retirement.
“I realised after leaving professional ballet that I couldn’t do nothing so the idea was to keep my body moving and keep it supple. I needed to have some strength because of the strain I’d put my body under doing quite extreme ballet for over 25 years.
"I need to keep my joints moving to keep them strong. I started off doing Zumba and had such a laugh doing that but I thought there must be something that’s more diverse which is one reason why I devised DDMIX.”
Even with the hip replacement Darcey had in 2015 to repair decades’ worth of toll caused by ballet, she says she still loves exercising more than ever. “The hip replacement has actually made it easier for me to exercise. I’m bionic now!”
“I just want to set a positive image to my daughters in terms of being active. I’m not fussed about body image I just want them to be healthy. My daughter is always going ‘I want a waist’ and I say ‘well as long as you’re fit darling the waist will happen’. It’s important for me to send a healthy message that your body will be healthy and strong if you put the right things into it and keep active.”
- Darcey Bussel Diverse Dance Mix is out now, rrp £10
- To find your nearest DDMIX class visit www.diversedancemix.com