Big Dance 2010 – 2012

2010 - 2012

Big World Dance 2010, Trafalgar Square, Photo courtesy of Big Dance

Big Dance is the UK’s largest festival of dance participation and performance that happens every two years. East London Dance is the Big Dance lead hub for east London.

East London Dance’s programme in numbers:

  • 2012: 7 weeks – 8 boroughs – 26 events – audiences of over 38,000– over 2300 performers
  • 2010: 7 weeks –  8 boroughs – 19 events – audiences of over 15,000 – over 1500 performers

Big Dance 2010 & 2012 was not just big… it was immense. East London Dance took the words ‘Big’ and ‘Dance’ literally and over 7 weeks (May – July) activated an explosion of exciting outdoor dance events across the 8 East London boroughs.

2012 Highlight Events

It’s a Secret

A secret dance explosion unlike any other presented by East London Dance and English National Ballet. Over 200 dancers popped up at Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London on Friday 18 May to launch the Big Dance countdown. The piece, celebrating the best of British, was created by the late Andre Gingras (Dance Works Rotterdam).

One Giant Leap

An intergenerational dance theatre project, choreographed by Cheryl McChesney and inspired by leap years and the giant strides made every 4 years. The project culminated in an outdoor performance at the Barking Abbey Ruins as part of the Barking Jubilee Tea Party.

Hidden Gems

We teamed up with Spitalfields Music to commission four new collaborations between East London Dance choreographers and composers from Royal Academy of Music. The pieces were created for the hidden (and not so hidden) spaces around Spitalfields Market and performed as part of the Spitalfields Music Midsummer Street Party. The commissioned choreographers included Simeon Qysea, Rosie Whitney-Fish, Joseph Toonga and Leila McMillan.

Dancing Voices

Dancing Voices brought together 180 older dancers and singers from across London in a large-scale dance and vocal project directed by Natasha Gilmore (Barrowland Ballet) as part of Big Dance and Capital Age Festival. The participatory project ended in a high profile performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre in which the dancers and singers shared the stage performing to live music. The music and dance was strongly influenced by contemporary culture as well as songs and dance styles from the past.

Dancing Voices was remounted in Glasgow as part of the Merchant City Festival working with older dancers and singers from across Scotland. Leap of Faith joined that performance as guest performers from London.

Tomorrow’s Men

An all male dance project, directed by Jeanefer Jean-Charles, that worked with the men of tomorrow to ask: how can we encourage and celebrate high achievement amongst our young men who be being excluded from society? 100 young men performed the work at Canary Wharf as part of Greenwich+Docklands Festival.

2010 Highlight Events

Bolero Remixed

100 dancers, a symphony orchestra and a DJ took over Canada Square Park in Canary Wharf for a breathtaking performance choreographed by Jeanefer Jean-Charles.

A Lover’s Journey

Bharata Natyam Choreographer, Anusha Sajeev, brought a touch of magic and an explosion of colour to Valentine’s Mansion in Ilford. Over 80 young classical Indian dancers animated the grounds of this beautiful mansion house.


Dancers from Jo Richardson School worked with choreographer, Bettina Strickler, to create a poignant dance journey through Eastbury Manor House in Upney to celebrate it’s refurbishment.

Dancing stAGE

Over 150 older dancers from across London took to the ballroom floor at the Southbank Centre in a piece exploring all the different facets of love, choreographed by Natasha Gilmore. Dancing stAGE was a pan-London project commissioned by Big Dance and Capital Age Festival.

The Bunker Thing

Avant Garde Dance took over a derelict World War 2 underground bunker in Dalston creating one of their most ambitious projects to date. Amongst shady characters, stunning visuals and spectacular dance, an underground world came alive.

Big Dance Bus

East London Dance went on tour with the Big Dance Bus popping up in many different locations across the east, including Walthamstow Town Centre, Star Park in Canning Town, Valence House Museum and Ilford Town Centre. Programmed with a mix of professional and local performances and exciting workshops, the Big Dance Bus entertained, engaged and helped us spread the word about Big Dance.

“It was a great day, the enjoyment & achievement radiating from the performers was palpable. After the performance, I was speaking to a friend that has been working in older people's arts for years who said this was the first standing ovation she has given in over 10 years! High praise!!”

Paul Margrave, Capital Age Festival

“I think the performance was a total success and triumph for dance with older people. All of the dancers that I saw afterwards were shining a light of energy and achievement.”

Cheryl McChesney, Project Director, One Girant Leap

“Can I say how inspiring I found The Bunker Thing. More than once recently I've heard people acknowledge East London Dance's role in nurturing current hot talent in the UK dance scene. Avant Garde Dance are surely the next big thing and the support you have given them is invaluable.”

UK Programmer about The Bunker Thing

A fantastic spectacle to have the Big Dance Bus in Star Park. It provided a really fun and interesting way for the local people to consider alternative ways of getting fit and healthy. And this is just the start of lots of opportunities for the local community to get dancing with East London Dance and Well London.”

Karen Taylor, Be Creative Be Well Project Manager, Arts Council

‘This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened in Canning Town.’

Local resident


DateSummer 2010 and Summer 2012

Location Across east London

PartnersBig Dance 2010-12 was supported by Legacy Trust UK, Mayor of London and Arts Council England.