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So if my child was showing an interest, I would do everything I could to help. I  teacher in my area and take them there as often as possible.

You’ve done so many wonderful things since you retired, including writing children’s books, modelling and, of course, your stints as a judge on Strictly. What will we see you do next? I am enjoying doing Strictly again this year. It’s one of those family shows that has such a good feeling about it. I’ve always been a great fan of the show, so it’s a wonderful thing to be involved with. And being part of that team is like being in a company again. We have a great selection of celebrities who are happy to put themselves out there. I also love getting into new things and

touch and go, and it was only at that age I started to see that I had the ability to be a professional.

You were at the top of your profession for 20 years. Within this time you married and had two daughters. Surely this is quite unusual?  into a dance career. It’s not a conventional job. You have to tour a lot, you guest a lot, and it’s usually not seen as possible to have both. I was very fortunate because I had a very good infrastructure around me with family and friends. I was also able to have a full-time nanny so that obviously made a big difference, because my husband was working full time too. I knew I was testing the ground, but I had great support and I knew that dancers have a short career, so I had to make the most of it. I have to say after my second child was born, I didn’t think I’d do another three years – I was amazed I was able to do that, but a little bit of determination goes a long way! When I retired, my eldest was six and

my youngest hadn’t started school, so they didn’t have as many events to go to as they do now. I managed to get to the Christmas nativity because being a principle meant I was able to arrange my own rehearsals. I did miss my younger daughter’s birthday twice because I was away, which didn’t feel great, but I always tried to make it up to her.

You support several charities – how did you choose them? The charities I support are mainly around dance, which is my passion. I know how dancing makes people feel and I know how important it is for kids to have some experience of dance; it’s one of the most natural things in the world. I’m also the president for the Royal Academy of Dance which trains dance teachers. I feel incredibly indebted to ballet teachers because they inspired me, and I would do anything to help them fundraise.

Your daughters are ten and nearly 13 now, do they dance? I haven’t encouraged them in that direction. My oldest doesn’t take any dance classes now even though she dances around the house all the time and she really should do, but she’s strong-willed like I was, and she loves drama. My youngest does ballet and jazz, and loves gymnastics as well. I didn’t want to push them into it, I didn’t want them to think that they have to take the same path that I did. There are so many options open to them in this world...

What advice would you give parents whose child has a sporting or artistic dream? I really would encourage it. If they have a  say, ‘Go for it!’, because they will do their utmost to achieve it if they’re passionate.

challenging myself. I’m trying out a new  programme. My aim is to get it into schools because sport is obviously essential, but having a daughter who’s 12, I’ve seen how competitive sports wane for girls at that age. It’s not like for boys where sport is a constant in their lives. So, if we can, we need to provide opportunities for other sorts of physical exercise that they’ll enjoy. We launched it with adults at the end of May, so I’m just assessing the response, and looking at how I can develop it while keeping it simple and easy. Meanwhile, I still do documentaries on dance for the BBC, and I have some of these in the pipeline, which are always fun to do.

Darcey, you’ve had an amazing life so far. Do you feel lucky? Yes, I’m incredibly lucky. I put a lot of things down to luck and being in the right place at the right time. But it’s also about being open to changes, embracing new things that are happening, and being motivated by other people’s talents. I really love meeting people that are doing something, or creating  myself out there, I like taking risks, but yes, I do feel very fortunate.



WIN! 

      

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