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Darcey Bussell, CBE, is best known for her two decade-long tenure as the leading lady of British ballet. More recently she joined the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing.

And she is dyslexic.

498px-Darcey_BussellFrom a young age, school was a nightmare for Darcey. Dyslexia made reading and writing a constant frustration. She quickly fell behind.

“I might never have become a dancer had I not been dyslexic. I remember the desperation as a child that came with being unable to express myself. Teachers would say I was lazy and my mum would say, ‘She is definitely not.’ Then, when I was about nine, I was diagnosed and things fell into place. Expressing myself physically was always much easier – that is why I took up dancing.”

Coming relatively late to dance, Darcey fell in love with it. A life-long passion was born. She improved quickly, driven by her own desire to achieve and prove herself after so many years of difficulty in the classroom.

“I just wanted to impress my teachers. I only achieved anything because of gritting my teeth, being a bit stubborn and staying with it.”

At age 20, she began her professional career which has carried her to the top of the ballet world.

When she retired from the ballet at age 38 to focus on raising her two daughters, she returned to the reading and writing that had so plagued her decades earlier. She embarked on a new project: writing a book series! The Magic Ballerina books have been hugely successful. Have you read them?

Sarah Forrest is a Reading Specialist at Oxford Learning Solutions, publishers of the Easyread System. Easyread is an innovative online course for struggling learners with highly visual learning styles, dyslexia, auditory processing disorders, and more.