The Big Dance, Various Venues, London
From the steps of St Paul's to bridges and stations, dancers twirled and tangoed – bringing a little fun to the daily grind
Sunday 13 July 2008
Hey, ho, the wind and the rain ... It was a great idea on the part of Boris Johnson's office to galvanise all the capital's dance organisations into a week-long jamboree, promoting both the social and health benefits of amateur participation and the professional reach of Terpsichore. And why not have things happen on the streets, where everyone could see them for free? British weather, that's why. In the event, some of the most intriguing items on The Big Dance agenda got postponed, scaled down or simply sodden.
One felt for Shobana Jeyasingh, who had choreographed a half-hour piece for 20 students drawn from three of the capital's dance colleges, to be performed against the west entrance of St Paul's. Wednesday's two scheduled performances were rained off. But on Thursday the group braved blustery winds and threatening skies to deliver a grand, sock-you-in-the-eye sequence whose statuesque lifts and arrow-sharp poses managed to fight off the double distraction of the fabulous masonry above, and the lure of the lunchtime sandwich.
Jeyasingh had adapted her style cleverly to this vast, stone stairway, employing deep, tremolo lunges and warrior-like, t'ai chi stances to use all the different levels at once.
Several individuals stood out – one of them a Josephine Baker lookalike with extraordinary limbs and an hourglass waist, whom I expect to be seeing much more of. What I don't expect to experience again is the weirdly transgressive thrill of hearing club Asian beats from huge speakers parked on Christopher Wren's front steps.
Earlier in the week, things got off to a spooky start as scores of couples, plugged into tango music no one else could hear, smooched on the concourses of several London stations. "Tango Commute" was the brainchild of Thomas Lindner, a tango lover keen to demonstrate the art of "hugging musically", as he rather quaintly puts it. Taking place on seven bridges and seven stations, the project was also a peaceable way of marking the anniversary of the 7 July bombings. But its main purpose, like "flash mobs" and silent discos, was to inject some spontaneous fun into the daily grind.
A "Tango Commute" website supplied the volunteer dancers' brief: "Do not crowd with other dance couples, do not obstruct the commuters you want to inspire"; and, crucially, "dance between 6pm and 7pm compassionately and connected [sic] on 7 July". On the evidence of Waterloo, where I myself spotted seven couples making small pools of space on the jostling concourse, some with rapt expressions, some essaying flash, spaghetti-legged manoeuvres, that's exactly what they did.
At the Natural History Museum at teatime on Thursday, contemporary dancer Laura Doehler of h2dance effected a more flamboyant public disruption. Initially posing as a museum visitor admiring the diplodocus skeleton in the foyer, she gradually shed her inhibitions (and many of her clothes), to assume the perambulatory traits of various mammals and invertebrates, finally ascending the grand staircase to deliver an ape-like farewell flourish: a trium-phant beating of her chest.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 10 ways we damage our teeth – without realising
- 2 Fifa corruption arrests: Nike reported to be 'multinational sportswear company' at centre of bribery claims over Brazil shirt deal
- 3 Facebook Messenger sends 'creepily' precise location data, as revealed by Marauders Map Chrome extension
- 4 Photo of wedding guest proposing to girlfriend in front of bride and groom goes viral
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's just gravity — not a Mexican demon being summoned
Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
ASAP Rocky gives nauseating response to explicit Rita Ora rap: 'I'm not saying she's a terrible person'
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'