An Evening with Dame Darcey Bussell DBE at Elmhurst Ballet School

Friday January 26th 2024

The most famous British ballet dancer of her generation coached two of Elmhurst's stars of the future in front of an audience of upper school students and supporters.

On Thursday 25 January we hosted a very special event which saw Dame Darcey Bussell DBE come to the school to impart her knowledge and teaching on the next generation of ballet dancers.

During the evening, two of our graduate year students, Ellis Gilbert and Hana Sato, had the incredible opportunity to take part in a coaching session with Dame Darcey Bussell, focussing on George Balanchine’s famous Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux.

The Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux is a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine to a composition by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which was originally intended for Act III of Swan Lake. Described by the New York City Ballet as “an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique”, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux features softly romantic balances, turns, and lifts that swell to an enthusiastic climax, before subsiding to a gentle closing, ending in a famous pose: an exaggerated ‘fish dive’.

Darcey Bussell first danced the famous Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux on 4 November 1991 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, partnering with Hungarian dancer Zoltan Solymosi. At the time, they were both rising young stars of the Royal Ballet and their performance was received with wide acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Darcey Bussell was taught the choreography by Violette Verdy, who was the very first female dancer to perform the ballet in New York in 1960. Now, over thirty years on from her first performance in London, Dame Darcey Bussell passed on her knowledge of the piece to Elmhurst Ballet School’s students.

Robert Parker, Artistic Director said, “Dame Darcey Bussell is such a huge inspiration to our students at Elmhurst, and I could not have been more thrilled to welcome her back to the school to work alongside two of our graduate year students and impart her wisdom and experience. When I was a student at the Royal Ballet School, Darcey was dancing with the Royal Ballet, and was an enormous inspiration to me and my classmates at the time. I have followed her career with admiration and watched her progress through the Royal Ballet company, before transitioning into a television star.

As a dancer, Darcey had a beautiful, fine classical technique which epitomised the English style. Darcey’s professionalism, her dedication to the artform, her transferrable skills, and the fact that she is such a genuinely lovely person were all important traits for our students to witness first-hand. She is the epitome of the school’s ‘Exceptional Dancers, Exceptional People’ motto. It was an incredibly memorable evening of dance at Elmhurst Ballet School.”

After coaching the students, Dame Darcey Bussell also answered questions from our supporters and upper school students in attendance, giving a wonderful insight into her career as a dancer, as well as advice for the dancers of the future.

Dame Darcey Bussell is the most famous British ballet dancer of her generation and was a Principal dancer at the Royal Ballet for almost 20 years. She is President of the Royal Academy of Dance and the overseas Patron of the Sydney Dance Company among her many patronages. Dame Darcey coaches at the Royal Ballet, presents the ballet cinema relays and recently she founded the charity DDmix, whose primary aim is to have dance fitness incorporated into an expanded physical education offering in schools.


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