World-famous British ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge, Dame Darcy Bussell has become the first patron of acclaimed dance company, Company Chameleon.
Dame Darcy was first introduced to the company last year as part of her BBC2 show Darcy Bussell: Dancing to Happiness, which promoted dance at all stages of life to help people keep fit not just physically but mentally too.
It was in exploring dance for mental wellbeing that Darcy first met Company Chameleon’s co-Artistic Director, Kevin Edward Turner. During the programme Kevin discussed how dance supported him through his own personal mental health difficulties and allowed him to heal. Darcy also learned about the company’s work supporting young people, specifically a therapeutic dance project for young women referred by a local support group.
Darcy explains: “Meeting Kevin and hearing his passion for Company Chameleon, it was completely clear that there was a particular strength here…an inspiration.
“I like the individuality of the company, they show how expressive and physically provoking dance can be. I know how effective they are in reaching out and performing to so many communities, especially to the young. They share my passion for the positive impact that dance can have on people’s lives and their accessible dance style celebrates that dance is for everyone.”
Darcey’s patronage comes at an exciting time for the Manchester-based company, which was set-up by Kevin Edward Turner and Anthony Missen in 2007/8. As part of their 10-year anniversary celebrations, in addition to making the documentary, the team joined Manchester City Council’s cultural portfolio and for the first-time moved into their own dance studio, next door to Rogue Artists’ Studios at the former Varna Street Primary School in Openshaw.
“It was wonderful to work with Darcy on the BBC2 documentary and it’s even more wonderful to welcome her on board as our first-ever patron,” says Kevin. “The timing is perfect. Having recently moved into our own dance studio, a priority is to develop a new Get Involved programme. We want to get more people dancing and seeing the benefit of dance across our home city. Darcy’s association and support will help us do this by increasing our reach.”
That reach is hopefully spreading across the whole city with support from Manchester City Council to get everyone moving and take dance into Greater Manchester schools.
And this month saw the launch of The Saturday Sessions, a new programme of dance classes for young people at Company Chameleon’s studio in Openshaw.
“This is just start,” says co-director Anthony Missen, “We hope to eventually offer all sorts of dance classes for all sorts of people – from performance events, to contact jams, from classes for absolute beginners to classes for professional artists. It’s brilliant to have Darcey on board at the start of this journey and what is a new era for the company as we explore the possibilities of having our own studio.”
Darcy adds: “Company Chameleon’s vision and plans for their new space is inspiring and will enrich the dance community in the North West. It’s a fantastic the Company has the opportunity to develop a hub for creating its international dance productions, as well as a programme of classes and workshops firmly rooted in Manchester.”
For more detail about Company Chameleon and its Saturday Sessions visit www.companychameleon.com