Through & Out: Skipping Extravaganza

Greenwich Dance12 July will see South East London’s Greenwich Park taken over by a skipping extravaganza. Hundreds of people are expected to join in the hugely entertaining and energetic Through & Out: Skipping Extravaganza, a brand new commission by Greenwich Dance for Big Dance 2014, which forms part of the Royal Greenwich Festivals 2014.

Devised by choreographer Jorge Crecis, Through & Out is a cross between dance and rope skipping that paves the way for a new choreographic game for all, dancers and non-dancers alike. Hundreds of dance-skippers, including professional dance artists and a local community cast from across south east London will come together for an epic performance to the sounds of an original score by composer The Artist. Audiences will all be taken into the heart of the action in Greenwich Park, against the iconic backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, with an audio soundtrack to listen to through headphones, which can be downloaded on to mobile phones or MP3 players in advance for a totally immersive experience.

The team of dance artists are working with groups at schools, community centres and youth dance groups around Greenwich and beyond, ready to jump 121 times per minute, with 1,500cm of skipping ropes following 440 hours of rehearsal and 59 different skipping moved. The dancers are expected to jump an astonishing 4,000 over 30 minutes.

Greenwich Dance is the home of dance in South East London as a meeting place for artists, audiences and communities. It aims to set the standard for dance locally, nationally and internationally. Big Dance is the biennial festival of participatory dance delivered by the Foundation for Community Dance and the Mayor of London and is supported by Arts Council England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Wales and British Council.

Big Dance Pledge 2014

Big Dance 2014The Big Dance Pledge is back for 2014, a chance to learn, make and perform dance with the rest of the world as one. As a mark of the 5th anniversary of the Big Dance Pledge, this special 5th edition is created by Scottish Ballet with fun and celebration at its heart, as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme of the Commonwealth Games. Lots of help is at hand; watch the ‘Pledge Family’ demonstrate, look through the Big Dance tutorial and inspiration films to begin planning your own Pledge!

You can even make your own version for the Big Dance Pledge 2014, with a group of friends, classmates or work colleagues to put your dancing on the map! Once you are rehearsed and happy with your dancing, be ready to perform as part of the two simultaneous performances on 16 May 2014 from wherever you are to be part of a unique and simultaneous wave of dancing across the world. If you would like to learn the official Big Dance, watch the complete choreography online. You can learn the dance with 5 tutorial videos, showing one section at a time – don’t forget to use the special warm up video!

The Big Dance Pledge will travel around the world with the support of the British Council. School children all over the world will be able to learn the Scottish Ballet choreographed dance and participate in the Big Dance Schools Pledge through the British Council’s Schools Online website. The British Council also plan to provide step by step guides for Commonwealth schools on how to take part, alongside additional teaching resources that will provide an introduction to dance.

Devised for people of all ages and abilities and with a variety of dance styles included, Scottish Ballet’s Creation of the Pledge has been in development for almost one year by the company’s education team.

The Big Dance Pledge

Big Dance 2013Artistic Director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo has begun leading the Big Dance Pledge, an initiative to be performed by thousands of people all over the world on the weekend of 17-19 May. She was joined by her dancers from ENB and young dancers from Chingford Foundation School, London, to raise awareness of this fantastic project which they hope will go global.

Organised by Big Dance, the world’s largest biennial festival of dance and with the support of the British Council, the Big Dance Pledge has been taught, learnt and will be performed by over 32,000 people this weekend in hundreds of places around the world including India, Lebanon and Brazil. The Pledge has been specially choreographed by English National Ballet’s Creative Learning department (specifically by artists Laura Harvey (Creative Associate) and Jenna Lee (Soloist) and is a 3-minute dance routine that anyone can do – regardless of age or experience.

ENB hopes to inspire as many people as possible to take part and embrace the art of dance as a chance to learn something new and engage in a community experience after the fantastic success of Big Dance 2012. Last year the cause reached millions of people all over the country through the Big Dance Festival, which will take place again in 2014. The Pledge therefore aims to continue this success and remind everyone of the power of Big Dance to enfold communities in performing arts.

The Big Dance Pledge ultimately strives to build on the legacy left by last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in involving all in a worthy and motivating cause, inspiring and encouraging people to make dance a bigger and more enriching part of their lives. With Tamara as one at the helm, who is an International Ambassador for Big Dance, it seems that Big Dance will continue as the ultimate dance experience in bringing dance to as many as possible in unexpected ways.

The Pledge is available to learn now and will be performed during the Pledge Performance Weekend (17-19 May). Watch the video below for more information.

Big Dance 2012 Volunteers Honoured in the Diamond Jubilee Awards

Big Dance 2012

Hundreds of people who volunteered their services for Big Dance earlier in 2012, one of the highlights of the London 2012 Festival, have been honoured through The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award 2012, acknowledging their fantastic efforts throughout the summer. 60 awards selected by Her Majesty The Queen were announced, with a formal event to be held at Buckingham Palace in spring 2013.

Big Dance held over 3,500 events across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, reaching approximately four million people, and encouraging dancers and non-dancers alike up and down Great Britain to don their dancing shoes and get involved with such an enormous event. Big Dance included television programmes, performances and events in the streets and public spaces, in theatres and schools, and in the heart of communities across the UK.

Some of the UK’s leading choreographers and dance artists created work for Big Dance, including Wayne McGregor CBE, who created an Olympic-inspired dance routine aimed at schools and performed by thousands of children and young people around the world. In light of the recent parliamentary discussions surrounding the place of dance in the curriculum, this is clear evidence of the encompassing nature of dance and what it is able to produce.

The Big Dance 2012 volunteers were essential in producing a successful and uplifting experience for all involved, in helping to run events, organising publicity, providing transport, making costumes, and all of the other things needed to complete large-scale community events, especially as part of such a huge scheme. People of all ages and backgrounds volunteered, with organisers receiving overwhelming responses of enthusiasm and positive interest. Many have developed skills as a result of the summer of 2012, such as those in event management, marketing, and administration, having been great ambassadors for dance and community celebrations.

Big Youth Dance Weekend

Big Dance Youth Weekend

As part of Big Dance 2012, Sadler’s Wells is due to present the Big Youth Dance Weekend at the Scoop, More London, on the 7 and 8 of July. Marking the start of Big Dance week, the Big Youth Dance Weekend will celebrate youth dance across the capital, and will also welcome dance groups from further afield, encouraging even more young people to engage with dance, especially during such an iconic dance event for the UK.

The Scoop is an open air “scooped out” ampitheatre next to The Greater London Authority’s City Hall. In collaboration with the Big Youth Dance Weekend, the performance opportunity which arises is a relaxed, informal event, with groups performing one after the other. Hosted by Hakeem Onibudo for Big Dance, his expertise in hip hop and street dance emphasises the sheer variety of dance styles available in the twenty-first century, with each one becoming popular in its own right. Both the spectacular rhythms of Latin and ballroom shoes and the speedy footwork of jazz shoes and leotards, alongside the urban dance moves of street crews make for a fantastic weekend.

Now in its 7th year, the Big Youth Dance Weekend has transformed itself into an outdoor performance event not to be missed. The performance blocks which form the Big Youth Dance Weekend reflect the Big Dance Hubs which aim to welcome dance groups from every London borough to the unique event in order to celebrate Big Dance thoroughly. Both youth and school dance companies are eligible to apply to take part in the event of both primary and secondary school aged young people, with all dance styles welcome, be it the twirling tutus of ballet or the resounding taps of jazzy tap dance shoes. Each dance company will be allocated to a performance block which matches the group’s borough location, split into North, East, South East, South, West and Outside London.

To apply, download the application information and form from the website and get your dancing shoes on!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Big Dance and Sadler’s Wells’ Sampled

Sampled - Presented by Sadler's Wells and Big DanceThis year’s Sampled is due to run at Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue, the Peacock Theatre on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 June 2012, in order to give audiences a taste of what the UK’s leading dance house has to offer to both leotard-clad and non-dancing fans. Presented by Sadler’s Wells and Big Dance 2012, Sampled is now well established as a highlight of London’s vibrant dance calendar. It is filled with delights such as jazz dance sneakers to the more eclectic fusions of ballet skirts and urban dancewear, as anticipated in 2012.

Despite being in its sixth year, 2012 marks Sampled’s first appearance at the Peacock, containing two incredible and inspiring days of dance, music and workshops. Audiences are privy to a wealth of dance spectacle, displaying world-class hip hop and the pink pointe shoes of ballet, to bare-footed contemporary dance and flamenco in one sitting. This unique mix of Sampled demonstrates the complete diversity of the UK dance scene in the twenty-first century, and the increasing number of collaborations which are taking place throughout the industry in order to create new works of art, and even masterpieces.

The 2012 line up includes Paco Peña Flamenco Dance Company, English National Ballet, Jonzi D, Da Bratz (the youth group of Olivier Award-winning hip hop dance company Boy Blue Entertainment), Cathy Waller – who won the Blueprint Bursary Award earlier this year for her fusion of contemporary and hip hop dance theatre – and the winner of the New Adventures Choreographer Award,  James Cousins. Trussed up in their tutus, English National Ballet will perform a pas de deux from their magnificent production Swan Lake, which was choreographed by Derek Deane. In addition, Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and hip hop legend Jonzi D will perform Aeroplane Man, his witty solo and a true story, and Da Bratz will perform Generation: Next 2012, which was well received at its premiere at Breakin’ Convention earlier this year.

Find out more and purchase tickets online at the Sadler’s Wells website.

West End LIVE 2012

West End Live 2012

West End LIVE, in association with MasterCard, is returning to Trafalgar Square on June 23 and 24 2012 for free! Presented by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre, West End LIVE showcases the quality and diversity of performing arts entertainment on offer in the heart of London… free for all. The iconic setting of Trafalgar Square demonstrates and promotes the West End as an exciting venue for all the family, whether it is musical theatre, contemporary dance or show-stopping voices that take your fancy.

Featuring showcase performances from every West End musical alongside interactive exhibits from London’s top attractions such as live bands, museums, galleries and cultural institutions, West End LIVE has been a great success in previous years, and 2012 looks to provide no less. It is a unique event that has grown and emerged as a hugely popular fixture in London’s entertainment calendar. As an all dancing and all singing spectacular, West End LIVE is a whirlwind of coloured costumes and performance tights, showing off the high kicking character shoes and the daring moves of jazz sneakers whilst providing a fantastic musical soundtrack.

Featuring highlights from west end musicals such as Thriller Live, The Wizard of Oz, Matilda the Musical and Chicago, West End LIVE is a sure-fire way to get your theatrical taste buds tingling as you experience a wealth of performances free of charge. Other exhibitors include Madame Tussauds, the Science Museum and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, with performances from the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy, National Youth Music Theatre, West End Kids and Big Dance. With something for everyone of all ages and interests, West End LIVE looks sure to entice and excite you with its fantastic offerings for 2012.


The Dance WE Made

The Dance We Made 2012

The Dance WE Made, presented by Big Dance 2012 and Sadler’s Wells, is a unique interactive pop-up dance project taking place at locations across London throughout June and July 2012, as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad’s Big Dance programme. The project will be staged at 20 iconic London landmarks over a 20 day period, in which members of the public will be invited to devise some of their own original choreography – leotards, sweat bands and leg warmers optional!

The Dance WE Made is being produced in collaboration with professional dancer and choreographer Tim Casson who studied at the BRIT school and Bird College, before joining the Jasmin Vardimon Company as an apprentice through London Contemporary Dance School. Casson became a full member of the company after a year of work, going on to complete his MA in Contemporary Dance and adding a wealth of commercial and contemporary experience to his already over-flowing CV.

For The Dance WE Made, each London location will see four to eight people have the chance to work with Casson resulting in the creation of a unique two minute dance piece, requiring no previous dance or choreographic experience from participants. Whether you tend to sport dancewear, jazz sneakers, or just everyday clothes, The Dance WE Made is the opportunity to discuss creative ideas, creating movement from boundless inspiration and see your piece performed and showcased by Casson in each location, which will be filmed and posted online on and other social networking and video sharing websites.

Each of the two minute segments will be combined to create a single dance solo for Casson, which will set a new world record for the largest number of choreographers contributing to a single dance work. Being part of the creative process looks set to be challenging but completely rewarding, creating the extraordinary from the ordinary.

The Dance WE Made London Tour dates – full tour schedule to be announced:

  • 3 Jun 2012 New River Festival – Enfield
  • 11 Jun 2012 Spitalfields Market
  • 13 Jun 2012 Exmouth Market
  • 14 Jun 2012 Brixton Village
  • 20 Jun 2012 Peter’s Hill for The Millennium Bridge
  • 21 Jun 2012 Barbican Lakeside Terrace
  • 27 Jun 2012 Camden Market
  • 8 Jul 2012 The Scoop
  • 10 Jul 2012 Covent Garden Piazza

Promotional Trailer

Big Dance 2012 – Sadler’s Wells and Wayne McGregor

Sadler's WellsAs part of the Big Dance 2012 Schools Pledge, Sadler’s Wells will join schools and venues across the world in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for ‘Largest Dance Routine – Multi Venue’, on 18th May at 1:00pm, to coincide with the arrival of the Olympic torch relay in the UK. Big Dance is one of the world’s biggest and most influential dance festivals, featuring dance in unusual spaces and showcasing the diversity of dance styles in the capital and across the UK.

The Record Breaker event will see thousands of school children dancing a specially created 5 minute work by Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, CBE Wayne McGregor. In light of the upcoming Olympic events, sport and dance have never been combined so closely, seemingly working to encourage children and young people to don their dancewear, pop on their jazz sneakers and get involved. Over 60 local residents and children from local schools are expected to gather in Sadler’s Wells’ main foyer. The current record is held by the Netherlands with 264,188 people in 1,472 locations and it is estimated around 600,000 school children across 20,000 schools in the UK will be taking part in the attempt, with schools in 55 other countries around the world also taking part.

The choreography has been devised to depict different Olympic sports, including fencing, rowing, running and basketball, emphasising the accessibility of dance aside from the stereotypical leotard and ballet shoes. Big Dance is one of the principle projects of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival, and the record attempt will mark the official countdown period to the Big Dance Festival (7th – 15th July). This will be concluded with another mass Wayne McGregor performance on 14th July, when one thousand school children will perform a specially commissioned McGregor work in Trafalgar Square. Such a fantastic and fun opportunity cannot be passed by, especially by those who have never had the opportunity before to engage with dance. A unique moment will be shared by all those involved, conveying the utmost passion and unison with regards to the art form that has prevailed throughout history.

Big Dance 2012

Big Dance 2012Big Dance 2012 aims to be the UK’s biggest celebration of dance, led by the Greater London Authority, Arts Council England and Foundation for Community Dance.

The programme is part of the London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, championing dance throughout the country. Big Dance is delivered by a network of Big Dance Hubs, which are leading dance organisations around the UK, delivering dance to those areas. Whether it is ballet, modern dance, lindy hop, or bharata natyam, Big Dance is sure to provide it, regardless of the extent of your dance ability or dance clothing collection!

In previous years, Big Dance incorporated the Big World Dance, which aimed to encourage people from across London to take part in a mass participation performance that took their dancing shoes from the Southbank Centre to Trafalgar Square for a grand finale which was received by thousands of audience members. Luca Silvestrini of Protein Dance created five pieces of choreography inspired by the five continents which corresponded to an area of London, teaching these to people across the capital. Around 2,500 people registered to take part, with more participants turning up on the day to join workshops at the Southbank Centre, complete with live footage on huge screens.

The Big Dance Schools Pledge, led by Coopers Company and Coborn School, was also a great success. The project encouraged schools to don their dancewear and sign up to complete 20 minutes of extra dance a day to take part in a World Record attempt for the largest dance class in multiple venues. Hakeem Onibudo of Impact Dance created choreography on four different levels to music specially commissioned for the Schools Pledge, of which over 600 schools nationwide with 150,000 students signed up for the pledge. A half hour dance class was completed, culminating with a performance of the Level 1 choreography, emphasising the sheer impact of the power of dance, in bringing people together for one significant cause.