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Getting a dance fix that satisfies the need to perform

29 July 2011

“A day I don't dance is a day I don't live." If you identify with Wendy Buonaventura’s need for a daily dose of dance, there’s a whole world of temptation out there just waiting for you.

You can take Zumba at Pineapple Dance Studios, head down to Floridita London for a decadent night of salsa, or you could just hang around Liverpool Street Station waiting for the next T-mobile flash mob.
 
There are lots of ways to get your dance fix in the big city, but what if you yearn for the bright lights of the stage and the adulation of an audience bigger than your local dance class or the immediate family at your cousin Kevin’s wedding?
 
We’ve found a variety of ways that you can take part in dance throughout the city, whatever your taste and ability level.
 
Big Dance
 
With a myriad of dance-related activities taking place all over the UK, Big Dance is a fantastic example of bringing movement to the masses. In 2012, this biennial festival will celebrate nine days of dance in unusual spaces throughout London – shops, parks, galleries, shopping centres and theatres – letting people of all ages and abilities take part and demonstrate the huge range of dance styles on offer in the capital. More than 850 events were part of the festival in 2010 and Big Dance 2012 is aiming to be even bigger with a 7-week countdown period before the main kick off on 7th July next year. And with partners including English National Ballet, East London Dance and Sadler’s Wells, there promises to be something for everyone to not just watch, but get involved with too.
 
Chelsea Ballet
 
Chelsea Ballet is an amateur company that performs full-length ballets – a perfect combination for those who may have walls full of dance certificates from their younger days, but just never had the time or inclination to make dance their full-time profession. Company member Sarah-Jane Emslie says, “I love the way you get an opportunity to take part in the biggest ballets no matter what your skill – it’s great to be able to say you’ve danced in Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppélia, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty etc.” As well as putting on two major productions each year, the company also takes smaller scale performances to people who might otherwise not be able to access real-life ballet, performing at residential homes and hospitals. Competition is high to get into Chelsea Ballet; at present they not recruiting new members as their books are full but potential applicants are encouraged to join the waiting list. 
 
Dance Umbrella
 
With the belief that everyone should experience dance, Dance Umbrella commissions and presents new and contemporary dance events and stages a major international dance festival each year. Working with a wide variety of artists, the city and its spaces are very much a part of their work with pieces in recent years taking place in public parks, Smithfield Market, Brick Lane and even the Canary Wharf offices of law firm Clifford Chance. Many events are free to the public or have low ticket prices and during the festival each year there are lots of opportunities to take part. The 2011 festival takes place from 1–29 October and includes Square Dances by Rosemary Lee, a free event performed by up to 200 professional and non-professional dancers of all ages in four squares across London. Also on offer is a week of participatory activities taking place at Southbank Centre as part of Candoco Turning 20, celebrating the anniversary of this acclaimed company of disabled and non-disabled dancers.
 
Dance Al Fresco
 
With Kele Baker and Ralf Schiller, the Argentine Tango consultants for BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, at the helm you’ll be sure to get a complete dance experience with Dance Al Fresco in Regent’s Park. This series of outdoor dance events covers a range of styles including Ballroom, Latin, Salsa, Sequence, Line Dancing and Tango. Taking place at weekends throughout the summer, each session starts off with a lesson at 1pm followed by general dancing from 2-6pm. Tickets are just £10, which includes a class as well as the main dancing, and all proceeds are donated to The Royal Parks Foundation for tree planting in Regent's Park. Participants are encouraged to change partners during the lesson – and you never know who you might meet on the open air dance floor on a sultry summer afternoon!  
 
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