Manchester dance company, Company Chamelon, feature in a new documentary with Darcey Bussell – Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness, broadcast next week.
The one-off documentary investigates why dance, more than any other form of exercise, has such a positive effect on mood and behaviour. In her quest for answers Darcey visits Company Chameleon and follows Kevin Edward Turner, the Company’s Co-Artistic Director as he leads dance sessions with young people.
Company Chameleon was set up in Manchester in 2007 by Kevin Edward Turner and Anthony Missen. It now creates dance theatre productions in the city, touring across the world and staging over 50 performances every year.
The documentary was filmed over the course of six-weeks’ of workshops. Darcey observed the project Company Chameleon runs with mental health charity 42nd Street.
Speaking about the power of dance and the project, Kevin commented, “I’m a great believer in the power of dance, as I know how it has helped me in my life, specifically in relation to my own experience with bi-polar disorder. In this project with 42nd Street, young people who are struggling with their mental health, were given the space and opportunity to explore their own challenges and feelings through dance and movement.
“Over six-weeks of workshops, Darcey came in and observed the project and the creative process as it unfolded. She questioned me and the young people, commented on the process and gave her feedback and some really lovely insights to the group. She was full of curiosity and respect and her presence created a positive energy in the room.”
He added, “From touring with Company Chameleon, performing as a professional dancer and through delivering workshops, I’ve seen the positive impact that seeing and taking part in dance can have on people. This is something I’ve seen again and again all over the world and the documentary demonstrates this.
“It shows the transformative power of dance and how it is a positive force for everyone involved – physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. It’s engaging viewing as you get to see the shift and transition that the young people make. As their ability to engage with their feelings and express them through dance increases, so does their confidence and self-belief, and this is so inspiring to see.”
Simone Spray, Chief Executive Officer at 42nd Street explained about the project, “The project between Company Chameleon and 42nd Street really brings into focus the hugely positive impact that being given the space and support to express yourself through dance can have on mental health and wellbeing. The young people involved did not see themselves as dancers, but they were encouraged and inspired by Kevin’s honest coaching skills and Darcey’s interest and they were able to achieve a new level of insight and self- confidence. Many of the young people have previously tried a whole variety of different therapies and treatments over the years and for some, this project has resulted in higher levels of recovery than anything else.”
Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness broadcasts on BBC2 at 9pm Saturday 1 December. Since her retirement from professional ballet, Dame Darcey Bussell has become an advocate for promoting dance and it’s positive effect on mental health. The show also features Darcey attending dance sessions for the elderly and newly retired as well as dance classes and therapy for those with Dementia and Parkinson’s. She told BBC Breakfast earlier this week, “Dance helps us emotionally and helps us express feelings we don’t know how to express verbally. It makes us understand what we’re going through. It’s been the most amazing journey for me to see people use dance in different ways.”
Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness broadcasts on BBC2 at 9pm Saturday 1 December
pictured: Darcey Bussell with Kevin Edward Turner (right) and dancers from Chameleon