Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman’s work stops hearts, capturing the delirious rush of first love in the Heartstopper series – online, in books, and in a hit Netflix series. And Oseman’s mother is a dance teacher! What has dance given them?

Dance Gazette | Why Dance Matters | Issue 8 - October 2023

You are an author and creator of a screen sensation. But more importantly: your mother is a dance teacher?
Yes, my mum, Trudi Oseman, is a director of a community dance school called the Bluebell School of Dance. It’s been her life’s passion. And she teaches ballet and so obviously, I did ballet from a really young age – I think I must have been two when I started baby ballet. I did it all the way until I was 14. I enjoyed it so much.

How was being taught by your parent?
She’s a very warm and loving person and such a good teacher, so it never felt awkward or weird at all. It was just my life. 

Does the experience of performing help when you are in the spotlight today? 
When you asked me to be on Why Dance Matters, one of the first things I thought about was how much confidence just having done dance has given me throughout my life. When I was at school, I never got that nervous about exams, and I always attribute that to the fact that I had done dance and been put in quite nerve-inducing situations, being on a stage performing in front of loads of people. It has given me so much confidence and made a lot of other things a lot less scary in comparison.

Writing and art – are these solitary activities where you have to find your own way?
I loved drawing, I loved writing stories. But when you’re growing up, finding your way into these artistic passions, they really are a solitary thing. I didn’t tell anyone that I was writing stories for a really long time. Didn’t tell any my friends or my parents, because it just felt like my thing. I didn’t want anyone else’s opinions, I guess.

How do you feel about the push back on teaching LGBTQ+ ideas, especially in the US?
It wasn’t my intention to write anything to make a point or to be used in any arguments. It’s been really interesting to see the swarm of popularity that Heartstopper has gained, despite the rising anger and bigotry surrounding queer books. It’s been really sad to see Heartstopper being challenged and banned in various schools, particularly in America. It’s hard to comprehend why such an innocent love story could possibly be deemed inappropriate. But it is good to know that I’ve put something positive into the world. 

What is the physical act of creation like?
Creating a webcomic is a very physical task. I have to draw every single day – my aim is to draw one page every day and that’s about three or four hours of drawing. I have to be sitting at my desk in a very rigid, upright chair. If I draw more than that or if I’m sitting slightly wrong, I will injure myself. There are so many webcomic artists who develop quite serious injuries, especially backs and shoulders. It’s so easy to injure yourself from drawing too much.

‘Dance has given me an inner confidence’… Alice Oseman

Why does dance matter to you? 
It’s given me a very natural inner confidence when it comes to so many other aspects of my life. I do a lot of public appearances as an author, I do some public speaking. Having done dance, being on stage in front of lots of people, in high pressure situations like exams, has made me feel comfortable expressing myself in front of lots of people. 

The second part of my answer is: creativity. Before you invited me on the podcast, I hadn’t thought about how being creative and dance has been such a big part of my life. Exploring and expressing my emotions, through music, and through movement has been fun, something that I have loved to do. And while dance isn’t my life’s passion, it has been a really lovely and joyful thing to have had in my life.

Artwork: Bex Glendining

Why Dance Matters

Why Dance Matters is the RAD’s podcast – conversations with extraordinary people from the world of dance and beyond hosted by David Jays, editor of Dance Gazette. The latest season of Why Dance Matters also includes choreographer Wayne McGregor, David Hallberg, artistic director of the Australian Ballet, ballerina and physicist Merrill Moore, RAD teacher Mitchell Rayner and Endalyn T Outlaw, who is a coach at The Fonteyn. Plus: Jennifer Wright, choreographer of Barbie! Do listen and subscribe.


Advice Bureau post

Aditi Mangaldas

Dance Gazette

Read more

REST OF Issue 8 - October 2023

Art of the matter post

Grand reverence

As he retires from the RAD, Artistic Director Gerard Charles reflects on the lessons of his tenure – and says farewell in model ballet style!


Curtain up!

The Fonteyn, the RAD’s flagship ballet competition, returns to the live stage this year. But how does it feel to be part of this cherished event? Rosemary Waugh hears from dancers, teachers and crucial figures behind the scenes.

Big Picture post

Dancing Times archive

The Dancing Times archive has been saved – by the RAD.

Inside RAD post


The RAD is progressing its safeguarding work, for members and students.

RAD Q&A post

Susan Coles

Susan Coles was a beloved RAD teacher. Her daughter Emma Tonkin describes the RAD bursary set up in Susan’s memory.


The long goodbye

What happens when a student decides to move away from ballet? How do teachers feel when someone they have known since childhood leaves their class? Alice Robb explores how to say goodbye to ballet.

Advice Bureau post

Aditi Mangaldas

Step into the forest of dance, says the renowned Indian choreographer.


High hopes

Ballet classes shouldn’t depend on income, says Peruvian RAD teacher Marícarmen Silva. Dan Collyns visits her school in Lima to hear about resilience and turning trash into opportunity.



Who does the daredevil stunts for action movies – and why does a ballet background help? Veronica Horwell investigates.


Total immersion

Audiences flock to immersive theatre experiences, choosing their own path through action that happens all around them. But what are they like to perform? Writer and dancer Isaac Ouro-Gnao shares a view from the inside.

Playlist post

Sonya Lindfors

A transporting playlist from the ‘hiphop head’ and Cameroonian-Finnish choreographer.



Industrial action is rare in the ballet world – but artists from Melbourne to Paris and London are protesting over pay and conditions. Jane Albert reports on what it takes for dancers to strike.

Fonteyn bronze medallist Ed Cooley. Photo: Martin Bell

Sound of The Fonteyn

The Fonteyn – the RAD’s prestigious international ballet competition – took place in person for the first time since 2019. The final was held at His Majesty’s Theatre, the opulent London theatre that is home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera – and Dance Gazette was there to capture the evening in sound.