A Dancer Dies Twice


2016040420170328 (R4)

"A dancer dies twice", the legendary choreographer Martha Graham said, "once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful."

This is a documentary about first deaths and last dances, about what happens when an instrument as finely tuned as a dancer's body begins to change.

From the music which prompts a twitch of muscle memory to the comedown which follows a burst of performance adrenaline, we hear stories of the last dances and what comes next from Gabriella Schmidt, Isabel Mortimer from Dancers' Career Development, and former principal ballerinas Natasha Oughtred and Wendy Whelan.

We eavesdrop on the training of young dancers at the Royal Ballet School as they shape muscle and bone into elegant lines, diving into the visceral excitement of pounding pointe shoes and powerful leaping bodies. And we visit Sage Dance Company and the Company of Elders as they work with dancers who move with grace and beauty in defiance of their changing bodies.

From the first anxious glance in the mirror to the last touch - how does the language of our bodies change as we age?

Produced by Eleanor McDowall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

A documentary about first deaths and last dances.


A documentary about first deaths and last dances.