Anthropy Conference

Wellbeing through dance and the arts.

Abigail Lynch, trainee solicitor at Shakespeare Martineau shares the key takeaways from an Anthropy 23 panel event in conversation with Dame Darcey Bussell DBE, where she discussed her unwavering commitment to promoting the arts for the betterment of society.

In the world of dance, Darcey Bussell stands as a shining example of passion, commitment and the transformative power of movement.

From her illustrious career at The Royal Ballet to her pioneering work with her Diverse Dance Mix (DDMIX) fitness programme, she has left an indelible mark on the world of dance and, consequentially, wellbeing.

On a personal note, attending this session with Darcey meant a lot to me as I took dance classes from a young age. Dance not only encouraged me to move – benefitting my wellbeing – but taught me important life skills such as discipline and precision, time management, and the all-important social skills of making friends, sharing, listening and both encouraging and learning from others. These are skills I continue to use in my daily life, especially in the work environment.

The power of dance

Recognising the need for variety in physical education and realising that a lot of the creatives in education were being squeezed out of the curriculum, Darcey created DDMIX, which was born out of a desire to make dance and movement accessible to all, regardless of age, ability or background.

Six years of research and development and five years as a charity have transformed DDMIX into a nationwide movement, offering live classes in more than 1,000 schools across the country.

As well as sharing her journey through dance, the session focused on the importance of giving people the chance to let their hair down in a safe environment. This is especially true of children so they start gaining positive associations towards activity, recognising it can be fun and enjoyable, and helping them build resilience, express themselves, and understand their emotions so they can navigate life’s challenges.

Breaking down gender balances

Gender dynamics have long been associated with dance, but through DDMIX, Darcey is determined to break down these stereotypes. She highlights that we, as adults, often impose these biases on children. In schools, she has encountered the misconception that boys are less inclined to participate in dance. However, she found that boys are often the first to get up and move. It’s our own influences and biases that need to change to make dance – and, ultimately, business and society – more inclusive.

The joy of trying something new

When discussing her time on Strictly Come Dancing, she praised the show for providing celebrities with the opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and try something new, noting how many contestants have now pivoted their careers into musical theatre and dance.

Her experience on the show taught her about the passion and dedication of the creative industry professionals, which is something that is needed in the world of business and our complex society – without creative perspectives, there will be less risks taken and, ultimately, less problems solved.

A call for the arts in tough times

The arts bring communities together, help people cope, and foster a sense of togetherness and joy. In a world that sometimes feels too serious, Darcey encouraged attendees to laugh at ourselves and enjoy the process of trying something different.

The session served as a reminder of the power of movement, the joy of trying something new, and the importance of the arts in our lives. In her own words and perhaps the ultimate takeaway – “we need to be more foolish”.