Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell opened up to pupils at the Hammond School in Chester today about her life as a ballerina and how she almost walked away from her career at the age of 13.
The prima ballerina, who has worked as a judge on the celebrity dance show since 2012, led a ballet class at the Chester performing arts school all morning, before answering questions from young dancers in the Hammond Theatre this afternoon.
Students were keen to hear all about Darcey’s early career in dance and how she coped through the tough realities of being a ballet dancer.
At the age of 11, Ms Bussell auditioned for the Royal Ballet School but was not accepted until the age of 13.
“Because I was quite late starting, I was a bit rubbish,” she added.
“At the beginning, my vocabulary of movement was so limited, I couldn’t pick up the steps and I didn’t have very good movement.
“Apparently, I looked like Bambi.”
Darcey went on to tell Hammond pupils how she almost left the Royal Ballet after her first year at the school.
“Teachers just didn’t think I had the mentality for it,” she said.
“I always felt sorry for myself and put myself down and I would cry a lot - it was quite pathetic really and teachers told me I should leave.
“I was so shocked by what they had said but it really kicked me in the right direction. It changed my whole view on things.
“I’m dyslexic so picking up movement was always quite difficult for me and because I had to always try that little bit harder, it gave me that extra determination to be noticed.”
The dance judge was asked whether there was any point where she thought she should have taken a safer career option.
She added: “I had no other skills. I had no other talents which was quite lucky really because I had to make a go of it.
“My dream was never to be a famous person on stage.
“I was quite a naughty child and it took me a long time to get into dance.
“Although I started at the age of five, I never really had any drive or interest, so it all came to me very late on in my life.
"I went to the Arts Educational performing arts school at the age of 11 and then I got a lovely scope of how diverse dance can be and how adaptable you have to be and I really enjoyed that.
“I realised I was actually only good at one of those skills, and that was ballet.”
She advised pupils to always ‘make positives out of negatives’ and how to learn from watching others dance.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries throughout my career, some injuries where I was off for about six months, and I always used to think, will people forget about me?
“When you recognise other people’s strengths and weaknesses you will recognise them on yourself. I became a better dancer after an injury.
“Don’t worry about making mistakes, we would never get anywhere if we didn’t make them.
“If you fall flat on your face, it doesn't matter - at least you took a risk.”
Ms Bussell said the most rewarding part of my career was ‘retiring early from classical dance and testing myself in other genres’.
“I still enjoy taking on different challenges but presenting documentaries is something I've really enjoyed and hope I can do more of,” she said.