Dancing Cheek To Cheek: An Intimate History Of Dance

A new series of ‘discovering dance’ programmes will hit our television screens ahead of Christmas, courtesy of BBC 4, dancing dandy of Strictly Come Dancing fame Len Goodman and historian Lucy Worsley. Throughout three episodes they will take to the floor to reveal the untold story of British dance, and show how Britain’s historical dances offer a fascinating window into society and relationships with one another. Worsley is adamant that dance ultimately is a metaphor for relationships, and in two hundred years time, the historical dances – which would encompass those today – would still be viewed in that way.

Each week, the pair will research and investigate a number of historical dances as well as train alongside a group of amateur dancers to recreate an iconic dance finale – the Charleston – in full costume at a historic location, the famous Café de Paris in London. Goodman and Worsley will track the story of popular dance from the 17th century to just before WWII, demonstrating how dance has always been about far more than learning the moves and feeling the rhythm. It is also about seduction, power, etiquette, economics, social change and romance.

Under the tutelage of many historical dance experts the three episodes contain a wealth of knowledge and history. In learning about the dances and how to do them, Goodman and Worsley have been able to appreciate the stories behind dance and uncover its secrets, be it etiquette or necessity. Dancing has gone from being frowned upon as dangerous and debauched to being an essential social skill, to being opened up to more people than ever before having lost its dubious reputation. The first few decades of the 20th century witnessed the most rapid and revolutionary change for British dance, and the rest – as they say – is history!

BBC Young Dancer 2015

BBC Young Dancer 2015BBC Young Dancer 2015 is a new award for young people that showcases the very best of young British dance talent. Young dancers will enter in one of four categories: ballet, contemporary, hip hop and South Asian dance. The competition will culminate in a grand finale at Sadler’s Wells, London, when the best dancers in each category will compete for the competition title.

It is a brand new project for young ballet, contemporary, hip hop and South Asian dancers, as part of the BBC’s continuing commitment to the arts and the support of new artists. The new award joins BBC Young Musician as a showcase for talented and dedicated young performers. Since it was first held in 1978, BBC Young Musician has helped to launch the careers of many of the UK’s most successful classical music stars.

BBC Young Dancer 2015 is placing dance centre stage by looking for dancers aged 16-20 across the four categories. To reach the final dancers must make it through three competitive rounds, where they will be judged on criteria designed to reward technical command, creative and expressive ability, as well as hard work and dedication. Each round is a performance opportunity, and after each one they will receive honest and supportive feedback from leading professionals on the judging panel.

As dancers progress through the rounds, they will get opportunities to dance for leading professionals in their chosen dance style. There will be new choreography created for the finalists, and workshops along the way where they will have the chance to work on their performances with choreographers and leading dance practitioners.

The finalists will dance on the main stage at Sadler’s Wells on 9 May 2015, in front of the house and a UK-wide television audience. The winner will receive £3,000 to help support and further their dance studies.

The BBC Performing Arts Fund

BBC Performaing Arts Fund

The BBC Performing Arts Fund has recently awarded £450,000 in grants to the theatrical sector for 2013. The first venture in this direction took place on Friday 7 June, which was the first live show of The Voice UK. This BBC One programme raises income for the BBC Performing Arts Fund through phone votes (a minimum of 10p per call), and whilst the genuine talent of the programme which graces the nation’s television screens could be questioned, it is clear that the contributions of funds from programmes of this type are extremely beneficial for the performing arts.

Since 2003, the revenue generated through phone voting programmes has resulted in over £4million of grants being awarded to emerging individuals and community groups working and performing in areas across the dance, music and theatre sectors. The commercial side of the venture considerably raises the profile of the sometimes understated performing arts sector, giving a larger voice to the belters of the industry, singing them loud and proud.

As a result of this, 2013 has seen the funding spotlight placed solidly on theatre. A total of £450,000 in grants is currently available for use in performing arts in each niche that will further invest in creative talent across the UK, from community centres, to after school clubs, to dance and drama schools, to the West End stage. Both of the Fund’s schemes are now currently open for applications, namely the Theatre Fellowship and Community Theatre.

Theatre Fellowships aims to support individuals through the early stages of their theatre careers, helping them to establish themselves in the professional world through bespoke placements within existing theatre organisations. The Community Theatre scheme aims to support the development of not for profit community theatre groups, allowing them to carry out training, attract new audiences, encourage new members and raise their profile in their communities.