Big Dance Pledge: In Rehearsal

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Sunday 11 May saw dancers young and old come together at Markova House, the home of English National Ballet, in their first group rehearsal for the Big Dance Pledge 2014 performance. Aiming to provide ‘a chance to learn, make and perform dance with the rest of the world’ – quite literally – this year promises to be the biggest celebration yet, with people in 22 different countries all learning and performing the Big Dance Pledge simultaneously, on Friday 16 May.

Big Dance, the international festival of dance, is  a bi-annual event, which is supported by the Foundation for Community Dance, Arts Council England, and the Mayor of London, among others.

As the West London Hub for Big Dance, English National Ballet have united seven groups of dancers from across the area including; the West London School of Dance and Young Dancers Academy, Open Age, Quicksilver – Rambert’s youth dance company, participants from Rambert’s youth class Young Movers, Hammersmith Academy, participants from English National Ballet’s evening classes programme and individual volunteers, to teach, stage, rehearse and perform the routine.

The four minute piece, which has been choreographed by Scottish Ballet, in conjunction with the Glasgow 2014 cultural programme, embodies the variety and essence of Big Dance. The percussive movements make it accessible to all, by using clicks, stamps and claps to create an impact; with gutsy shouts from the performers thrown in too, it is a tribal-like celebration on mass. There are traditional elements to spot throughout, including snippets of Scottish folk dancing and actions from Highland sports all integrated in to the movement.

The spirit of inclusivity and fun was even reflected within the rehearsal period. The dancers were evidently enjoying learning and gaining confidence with the material, and regularly offered help to their fellow performers with any struggles over timing or difficult moves. The participants appear just as excited for the performance as the prospective audience are.

Abbie and Ella from Hammersmith Academy said they were ‘nervous and excited’ for Friday, but it ‘makes it better doing it with friends’. As a new experience, Richard Brass, an individual volunteer, commented that he’d ‘never done anything from a ballet background before on this scale’ and was ‘excited’ for the performance, with his friend Mary Cox, 61.

At the end of the rehearsal, discussions were underway on how to position everyone within the dance, and deciding what movement the piece should end on, leaving everyone eagerly awaiting the finished result.

To see this fantastic statement of dance, make your way down to Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherds Bush, on Friday 16 May at 7pm, outside Marks & Spencer on level one.

For more information, visit our Big Dance page.

By Laura Warner