Bath Literature Festival: 'You get to ignore the pain' says 'racehorse' Bussell
Prolific writer and commentator John Walsh contributes columns to the paper as well as writing features, interviews and restaurant reviews. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.
Sunday 03 March 2013
"We're like racehorses," said Darcey Bussell of ballerinas, "with the things we put our bodies through." The nation's favourite ballet star looked poised and elegant on the Banqueting Room stage in Bath's Guildhall, but her memories of the self-inflicted traumas of classical dancers were shockingly raw.
"I used to bandage each toe to make my performance last longer, because there'd be fewer blisters." she said, to sympathetic murmurs. "After a while you get to ignore the pain." She described having blood in her pointe shoes, and being unable to walk on the days after major performances.
Urged on by festival director, James Runcie, (who introduced her with the words, "On the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, this woman has made it possible for men also to swoon at the name Darcey,") she elaborated on other setbacks encountered by professional ballerinas.
One anecdote was about the officious security she encountered in New York when about to go on stage in The Sleeping Beauty in full tutu, make-up and false eyelashes. "He said, 'Where's your security pass?' I said, 'I don't have it but look at me – I'm Aurora' and he just said, 'So?'"
Or the amorous attentions of the Bolshoi star Irek Mukhamedov, 20 years her senior, with whom she danced at the Palladium for the Queen Mother's 90th birthday. "At the end of a long pas de deux, there was a very long kiss. No matter how many times I said, 'Can't we just do it on the night?', Irek insisted we did the long kiss at every rehearsal…"
Though retired from the classical stage and now pursuing more commercial ventures (including becoming a judge on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing), she strapped on her pumps again last summer to perform in the closing ceremony at the Olympics. She flew down to the stage on a giant metal phoenix fizzing with fireworks.
"The atmosphere was great," she recalled, "but we kept slipping because of the oil dripping from the pyrotechnics." Would she advise her children to follow in her footsteps? "I wouldn't want to push them," said Ms Bussell, understandably.
Arts & Ents blogs
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakes in bed one night to discover that the yew tree outside his house has ...
It’s hard not to feel sorry for doe-eyed Andy. He spends months pining after Louise, has huge nostr...
Fragility of life looms large over an episode that closes with the scarring on Julie's stomach. Whil...
Uri Geller psychic spy? The spoon-bender's secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent revealed
Theatre review: Daniel Radcliffe gives an admirably honest performance in Michael Grandage's The Cripple of Inishmaan
Russell Brand takes his Messiah Complex to the Middle East
Art review: The BP Portrait Award 2013 reveals our endless fascination with self-scrutiny and the human face
Vice pulls 'breathtakingly tasteless' fashion shoot glorifying the suicides of famous female authors from Sylvia Plath to Virginia Woolf
- 1 Diary of Second World War German teenager reveals young lives untroubled by Nazi Holocaust in wartime Berlin
- 2 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 3 Uri Geller psychic spy? The spoon-bender's secret life as a Mossad and CIA agent revealed
- 4 Viral video straps colt .45 handgun to a home-use drone
- 5 Vice pulls 'breathtakingly tasteless' fashion shoot glorifying the suicides of famous female authors from Sylvia Plath to Virginia Woolf