On Christmas Day the BBC2 will transmit Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood, a tribute to the great film musicals. Bussell talked to the Radio Times’ Alexia Skinitis about the dancers who have inspired her:
As a little girl, I didn’t dream of being a ballet dancer, I dreamt of being a movie star like Ginger Rogers and dancing with Fred Astaire. I used to watch the Sunday double-bills on TV and Iong to be part of what seemed a perfect Disneyland world. Astaire was a genius.
Cheek to Cheek from Top Hat was his iconic dance with Ginger Rogers and it was such a joy re-creating it — although dancing in heels was very hard for me. He made everything look so easy, but trust me, it is not!
He had a unique style and identity on stage and brought his own personality to everything he did, which is an amazing quality that has inspired every dancer who followed him.
She always wanted to be a dancer, and in all her films, whenever there was an opportunity to dance, she would embrace it and you could see the joy in her eyes. She had the most amazing, iconic look and was always so perfect. She just couldn’t look bad and had such a grace about her. I always aspired to be like her in that way.
When I was a teenager, I used to watch the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and try to follow the steps and do the Thriller moves in my bedroom. That was the most incredible dance sequence. And actually, you can see that Jackson was hugely inspired by Fred Astaire in the way he choreographed his music videos. He was hungry for inspiration and loved every dance and every song. He was born to be on the stage.
My mother loved the ballet and Svetlana was her favourite ballerina. I was lucky enough to be coached by her one summer at the Royal Ballet School’s White Lodge in London. As soon as I got there I was awestruck. She was the perfect image of a ballerina and I wanted to be exactly like her.
I never saw her dance, but I was coached by her when I was 20, preparing for my first performance as the principal in Swan Lake, and I remember every single word she said to me. It was terrifying and she was very stern. But she had such a depth of knowledge, I tried to absorb every little bit of it.
via Radio Times
Darcey Bussell Dances Hollywood
The former Royal Ballet star steps into the shoes of her Hollywood heroes to celebrate the legacy of classic dance musicals, reinterpreting four of her favourite routines with renowned choreographer Kim Gavin, and revealing the secrets behind their enduring appeal. First, she tackles the challenge of impersonating Fred Astaire in Puttin’ on the Ritz, which was a highlight of Blue Skies, before playing Ginger Rogers in a rendition of Cheek to Cheek from Top Hat. These are followed by numbers from Singin’ in the Rain and The Band Wagon. Darcey also talks to conductor John Wilson, who has reconstructed the original scores from these films.
December 25, 6:30pm – 8pm BBC2, BBC HD
Repeat December 30 – 7pm BBC4; December 31 – 3:25am BBC4
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.