The burly security guards order people to get back but the ten deep crowds do not relent, they only continue to push, scream and shout. There are now hundreds all pushing forward, desperate for a glimpse of their idol. The cause of this furore? Prima ballerina and now Strictly judge, Darcey Bussell, of course. Only a fool would stand between a ballet fan and this lady. I for one, wasn’t going to stop them, indeed, I was positively joining in as the same crowd gathered around the Dance Register Interview Sofa eager to gain some words of wisdom from their dance idol.
This is just another packed the rafters day at Move It. Now in its 7th (??) year, this dance extravaganza which regularly pulls in 20,000 people over its three day duration seems to have truly found its target audience, from 11 year old Street Dance enthusiasts to older teenagers keen to get advice on the many vocational colleges to take their careers in dance to the next level.
Arriving at Move It is such a mission it almost feels like going for a night out; I am given wrist bands giving me various access to certain areas, I am scanned and registered and then enter a large space full of pumping music and excitably crowds. Street, Hip-Hip and Contemporary styles of dance would seem to reign supreme here with many younger dance fans keen to experience some of the less widely practiced dance genres on offer such as H2ography, Tutting and Waacking.
The day started with the usual variety of young talent on display from the main stage, with the New Youth segment showcasing West End Kids, Many Ellen Performing Arts College and a contemporary piece from the English National Ballet Youth Company. The Fashion Fix section which followed was particularly enjoyable, with Bird College and Urdang Academy putting on especially dynamic and energetic displays.
Before Bussell mania ensued, much loved English National Ballet Senior Principal, Daria Klimentova took to the sofa to discuss her new autobiography, The Agony and The Ecstasy: My Life in Dance, including her early years as a gymnast and her transition to a young ballerina in the Czech Republic and becoming a Principal of the Czech National Ballet. So far, so low key, and nothing could prepare me for the droves of young and rather vocal fans who had arrived to see the newest member of the Strictly family, even Darcey herself seemed a little overwhelmed by the welcome, given the usual enviably calm aura she exudes.
The interview felt all too brief for the hype and profile given, however the recently released photographic book of Darcey’s life in dance was an obvious talking point and she described the process as “a dream to put together which took over two years” citing many dance photographers that she had been lucky enough to work with. Darcey also cited many of her teachers who had been inspirations over her career, most notably Anna Du Boisson and her classes at Danceworks. Her time on Strictly has clearly been a gift to her which she speaks of with great fondness and enthusiasm. “It’s like being back in a company again” she joked, adding her delight and how many people have been inspired to take up dance because of it.
Move It is now such a vast event you will barely scratch the surface of what is on offer even if you commit a whole day to the cause. Straight on to classes and I went for an Adult Ballet class, presented by the Royal Academy of Dance. Described as Intermediate in level, a term which always covers a multitude in dance, I hoped I could keep up with the large number of participants consisting mainly of those already in vocational training. With no barre to aid balance, barre exercises became centre exercises and it was sometimes difficult to hear instructions due to the colossal amount of noise from other classes and performances close by. However an impressive amount was still achieved in the short 45 minute slot, from plies, to centre work and learning a short sequence to jetes and pirouettes across the room – even if everyone did appear to be taking it terribly seriously!
Time for a change of style and it was onto a vibrant and fast paced Cha Cha class taught by Michael Litke, (www.ballroomcourses.co.uk) a man so exuberant I half expect to see him on the next series of Strictly. This open level class moved quickly and before I knew it we had a sequence of over a minute, full of locks, fans and spot turns that had everyone dancing around the small studio in no time at all.
Anyone who isn’t entirely exhausted after their day at Move It has clearly missed something, as I made my exit, performances, classes and exhibitions are still in full flow; the novelty of this monster of a production shows no signs of waning as it still effortlessly pulls in the crowds, which is no surprise as there aren’t many places you can go to meet Darcey Bussell and then try out some Hip-Hop with ZooNation and just about everything in between.
Originally published in Dance Today – April 2013