25 years later, Dawn French and Dame Darcey Bussell reunite and talk ballet for Royal Academy of Dance fundraiser

Dame Darcey Bussell in conversation with Dawn French. Photo courtesy: The Royal Academy of Dance

This piece of greatness just in from and courtesy of the Royal Academy of Dance….

Dawn French and Dame Darcey Bussell have reunited to reminisce about their famous ballet sketch in The Vicar Of Dibley called “The Mirror” 25 years on, and said it helped to demonstrate dance is “there for everybody”.

The comedian and the former Strictly Come Dancing judge teamed up online for a ‘Sparkling Conversation’ to talk about the brilliant scene and share what they learned from taking dance classes for a festive fundraiser for the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD). During the conversation, the RAD President and famed ballerina shared her struggles keeping a straight face while Dawn gives insight into how sketches like this are created.

The classic moment from the BBC sitcom features dancing star Dame Darcey performing an elegant ballet routine which French mimics but adds her own comedic spin to the performance when she becomes exasperated, and takes charge, making the dancer follow her moves instead.

In the reunion conversation, the pair reflected on what they had learned from each other and their respective crafts, as well as sharing some backstage anecdotes from the making of the ballet sketch.

French said: “When I came to work on this sketch with Darcey, everything I knew about ballet was what I had loved as a child at ballet class. My brother remembers this as little hippopotamuses running about – but in my head I was beautiful, lithe, free, I could express myself and I was appreciated by everybody, and I was able to be as unique as I wanted to be inside this discipline.”

It freed me up to feel graceful, and to feel fit, and it made me very happy. Through Darcey, I got to enter this world again and live vicariously through her and through these sketches. It was so wonderful to reminisce with Darcey about this for the Royal Academy of Dance. To this day, I am grateful for having taken dance classes,” the comedienne continued.

The Mirror from Vicar of Dibley. Photo: BBC

French starred as Rev Geraldine Granger in BBC sitcom The Vicar Of Dibley, which ran from 1994 to 2000 and then intermittently for specials up until the most recent in 2020 with a pandemic lockdown special.

Dame Darcey, president of RAD, added: “There is so much comedy in ballet and we forget about that. You have to have range and be diverse, so this performance in The Vicar Of Dibley was a huge step in my career. Through my conversation with Dawn, I was reminded that dance really helps break down barriers. It’s an experience. It’s not always ‘the show’.

“It’s how you feel and how it changes how you express yourself. It is there for everybody. This sketch 25 years ago helped to demonstrate that and it is a message I continue to share with the Royal Academy of Dance. I really realised the opportunity to revisit these wonderful – and very funny – memories with Dawn, and to hear how ballet and dance have played such a pivotal role in her life and career.”

The RAD is closing in on its £19.5m capital fundraising target for their new global headquarters in Battersea, launching in Spring 2022. The new building will become an international home for dance, allowing us to realize the potential of the 60,000 sq ft headquarters to expand on their 100-year history of high-quality dance education to bring the transformational power of dance to more people, regardless of age, ability, or location.

Members of the public are able to purchase tickets to watch the full 35-minute conversation, including more funny stories and insights. The conversation will be available to watch until 28 January 2022.


In: Odds & Sods