Mayor of London Boris Johnson encouraged Londoners to “Get down on it and strut your funky stuff” at the launch of T-Mobile Big Dance this morning.
The Mayor, speaking at the London Palladium, provoked laughter amongst the invited audience by saying he had “just fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition by emerging from the Judy Garland dressing room”.
Johnson joined choreographer Jerry Mitchell, West End leading lady Sheridan Smith, Strictly Come Dancing star Camilla Dallerup and representatives from the organisations involved in Big Dance to help launch this year’s event, which aims to get 1.2 million people participating in one of the 800 dance activities planned over the next 10 days.
Dance Captains from some of London’s top West End shows kick-started Big Dance in style by taking to the London Palladium stage to perform Mitchell’s choreography for You Can’t Stop The Beat from the musical Hairspray.
“I know first hand from Legally Blonde that our Dance Captains do an amazing job,” said Smith in tribute to the performers. “They know everyone’s part, I can just remember my own.”
Founded in 2006 by the Mayor of London and Arts Council England, Big Dance is now the world’s largest and most influential dance initiative. Among its many supporters is English National Ballet, whose director Craig Hassall was also in attendance at today’s launch to encourage people to participate in one of Big Dance’s highlights. Taking place on Saturday 10 July, The Big World Dance hopes to attract thousands of Londoners to dance in the streets.
Dallerup was particularly enthusiastic about encouraging people to try the activity she has made into a career: “I feel like I’m a walking advert for saying get dancing, get involved, it’s a lot of fun and I think it makes everyone feel good. It’s the most wonderful feeling,” she said. “It’s all about getting involved and most of all – I say this to all my celebrity partners on Strictly – having fun. That’s the best advice I’ve ever had.”
Even Johnson demonstrated his dance moves at the launch, to the amusement of the audience. Dance “not only gives people exercise but of course it teaches people to break down their inhibitions and form relationships with people they might not otherwise become so friendly with,” he said, adding: “We have a magnificent example of a great coalition waltz by Nick Clegg and David Cameron, followed by William Hague break-dancing down Whitehall.”
For more information about Big Dance and how you can get involved, visit www.bigdance2010.com