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Highlights of 2016

The Big Dance Pledge 2016 began in November 2015 at the University of Roehampton, London, where Akram Khan worked with 60 students and the Big Dance creative team to create a piece of choreography to hand over to the rest of the world.

By the end of our Worldwide Performance Day, 20 May 2016, over 42,000 people in 44 countries around the world had learned or used the choreography to create their own spectacular performances.

Of the many thousands of stories, photos and films you have shared with us, here are a small selection to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of your dancing.

For more photos and films, check out our Galleries and our social media channels.

London, United Kingdom

This short film is a collection of some of the 2016 Big Dance Pledge performances in London. From little pupils to older people, from amateurs to professionals, the Pledge has involved thousands of participants around the capital.

The video includes an exclusive interview with the Pledge choreographer Akram Khan who, travelling through the capital, visited some of the different groups during their performances.

Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

Dance artist Jen Angharad used the Big Dance Pledge to improve the Welsh language skills of young people growing up bilingually in Wales. Her project, ‘Dansio’r Lingo’ used words and sounds associated with the choreography and culminated on the 20 May with a public performance in Merthyr.

See how it all worked in this video report from TV programme Heno on Welsh national channel S4C.

West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong

WKCD, CCDC Dance Centre, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA) and HKAPA Dance Alumni Association invited 100 participants to take part and to dance on site at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

The event marked the first Big Dance Pledge performance in Hong Kong, and is the first of several local community events that are due to take place.

Watch their performance video here.

Leicester, UK

Curve Theatre and the Leicester Independent Dance Artists Network came together to bring participants of all ages and abilities to dance together outside the historic Leicester Cathedral.

As a first time many of these participants had danced outdoors, with so many other dancers, it marked a special day for great dancing British city.

Baldock, Hertfordshire, UK

Dance teacher Debbie Sheringham used the Big Dance Pledge to begin a lunchtime dance club at Hartsfield JMI School, on a voluntary basis. Her 11 girls worked for one hour per week and performed to the rest of the school on 20 May.

“This is just for the love of the dance. The point is to spread the word that it’s something anyone can do, it’s not just about high kicks, fast turns or thumping music.

“I think for me the highlight was how the kids who were watching actually watched – it was quite an unusual dance with quite lofty themes like migration, and they didn’t laugh or squirm.”

Debbie is planning to teach a dance club at the school from September, as well as one for adults at Baldock Community Centre at 7pm on Thursday nights.

See more of their story in their local newspaper article.

Beirut, Lebanon

The British Council Lebanon have supported the Big Dance Pledge annually since 2012. Each year, schools from in and around Beirut – Muslim, Christian and State-run schools – come together to perform with over 1,000 others.

Big Dance Rehearsal Director Jen Irons visited this year to help with rehearsals and was amazed at the enthusiasm for coming together in large groups.

See more of their story in this national TV news article.


Liverpool, UK

MDI (Merseyside Dance Initiative) used the Big Dance Pledge for the city’s Light Night celebrations and adapted the choreography for the Pentecost Pageant. Their 100 dancers learned the choreography with Community Dance Artist Paul Doyle and then took to the streets!

Take a look at their video.

Tokyo, Japan

Seeing groups respond to Akram’s encouragement to develop the choreography and to make unique dances was an exciting part of the project.

D.I.Crew, a street group from Japan took the challenge and flew with it, created this great work and sharing their studio video with us. You guys rock!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Creative Scotland’s staff took up the Big Dance Pledge with a secret weapon: they knew that they had an incredible location to perform that would make sharing it with the world all the more exciting!

With one of the only rooftop performances we know of, from a workplace group of colleagues just goes to show how dance and your day-to-day work can go hand-in-hand.

Lancaster, UK

Our Inspired By films were created to show how Akram’s choreography could be used in all sorts of ways, for participants of any kind – or age.

This video showing how Ludus Dance used the themes with their early years group has been melting hearts all over the world.

San Sebastiàn, Spain

The Olatu Talka Festival celebrates participation in all art forms with hundreds of amateur groups showcasing their talent each year.

To mark the opening of the Festival and this year’s European Capital of Culture programme for Donostia / San Sebastiàn 2016, British Council Spain supported artists to learn and teach the Big Dance choreography for a spectacular open air performance on the promenade.

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