As the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) continues to mark its centenary, celebrating 100 years in which it shaped the future of dance training, the Academy has launched a new podcast examining Why Dance Matters. As dancers return to studios, and stages are set for performances once again, this question has never been more relevant. In the face of a global pandemic, the RAD has seen first-hand the vital role that dance has played in connecting communities, lifting our spirits, and keeping our body and mind active. Hosted by David Jays, editor of RAD’s magazine Dance Gazette, this podcast presents a series of conversations with remarkable people from the world of dance and beyond, tracing the impact of dance on guests’ lives and asking ‘why dance matters’ to them – and why it might matter to us all.
The first series explores how dance could help to transform the NHS and enhance wellbeing with Dr Guddi Singh, as well as the impact of dance on communities facing challenging situations in Mexico with RAD Teacher Victoria Trevino. Film director Gurinder Chadha OBE takes a moment to celebrate not only the UK’s return to cinemas but the performing arts generally, offering a unique view on the impact of dance on her life and career. The RAD asks eminent dancers Xander Parish and Céline Gittens, who both took their first steps in ballet with the RAD, for their professional perspectives; and explores racial stereotypes in dance with Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface. As the Academy prepares to move to a new purpose built home for dance later this year, RAD Chief Executive Luke Rittner CBE shares his views on how a building can be a catalyst for change. Lastly, acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston, whose ballet The Cellist was the last premiere at The Royal Ballet before lockdown, completes the line-up. She speaks to David Jays as her work is included in a new book co-edited by a member of RAD’s academic staff.
Jays, who hosts Why Dance Matters, says, “It has been a privilege to sit with our remarkable guests – dancers and non-dancers alike – to hear why dance matters to them. I’m speaking to ballerinas, choreographers and dance teachers – but also to people who find that dance informs their work, whether it’s in healthcare, activism or other artforms. In Why Dance Matters, the RAD makes a vital connection between dance and the things that we all care most deeply about. When we began these conversations, I had no idea how personal, poignant and inspiring they would be – more than one of our guests has told me that dance saved their lives. I hope that both people who are steeped in dance and also resolute non-dancers will find these conversations as engaging and enlightening as I have done.”
The remaining episodes in the Why Dance Matters podcast include: choreographer Cathy Marston (2 June); Victoria Trevino, RAD Teacher located in Mexico City (9 June); Phil Chan, activist, author and co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface (16 June); Dr Guddi Singh, pediatrician, health campaigner and broadcaster (23 June); Céline Gittens, principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet (30 June); and Luke Rittner CBE, Chief Executive of RAD (7 July).
The podcast will be available to listen from the RAD website, as well as Apple, Spotify, Google and Amazon Music, with a new episode available each week.
For more information, visit www.royalacademyofdance.org/podcast.