Manchester dance company, Company Chameleon, has announced that Dame Darcey Bussell is joining the company’s board as their first-ever Patron.

The development comes after the world-renowned ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge worked with Company Chameleon’s Kevin Edward Turner on last year’s Dancing to Happiness documentary.  The one-off documentary was filmed for BBC Two and investigated why dance, more than any other form of exercise, has such a positive effect on mood and behaviour.

Darcey Bussell has become the patron of Company Chameleon - image courtesy Joel Chester Fildes

Darcey Bussell has become the patron of Company Chameleon – image courtesy Joel Chester Fildes

In a speech when accepting the patronage, Dame Darcey Bussell said, “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.

With a strong inspirational team led by Kevin and Anthony, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel that the Company has such a powerful purpose here in the UK and abroad.

I am very proud to become Company Chameleon’s first Patron and I am looking forward to seeing more of the Company’s work and being part of its future. May it thrive for many, many years.”

The news comes at an exciting time for Company Chameleon who have celebrated their 10th anniversary, expanded their team, joined Manchester City Council’s cultural portfolio and moved in to their own dance studio in Openshaw.

“The timing is perfect,” explains Kevin Edward Turner, “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. Darcey’s association and support will help us do this by increasing our reach.”

The Company is currently taking dance into schools across Greater Manchester for free, and this month sees the launch of The Saturday Sessions, a new programme of dance classes for young people at their studio in Openshaw.  “This is just start,” explains Co-Artistic 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.”

images courtesy Joel Chester Fildes