Review: MOVE IT - Excel London

Performance: 18 - 20 March 2016
Reviewed by Alice Westoby - Monday 21 March 2016

ENBYouthCo perform on the main stage at MOVEIT 2016. Photo: Milda Samsonaite

Every year since 2006 the country’s biggest dance event, MOVE IT, hits the capital. This year it landed for the first time in east London at a new venue for 2016, ExCel London. As usual it was full of packed programme of classes, seminars, workshops and performances to celebrate all things dance.

The scale of this year’s event was noticeably bigger from the moment the ExCel came into view for me on Sunday morning. Even before the doors opened there was a lengthy queue for both the entrance – and to snap up the last few remaining places (if any) at the many dance classes on offer over the weekend. The impressive entrance was a huge pink carpeted tunnel, with music thudding and stage lighting – before it opened up into the vast space of the ExCel’s event hall and the hundreds of stands set up for the UK’s leading dance colleges, organisations and dance wear retailers.

With new Creative Directors Tia Hassan and Kate Scanlan at the helm this year and a brand new space, there were lots of exciting new parts to the programme as well as the usual MOVE IT staples including the Main Stage, Showcase Stage and Freestyle Stage.

Additions to this year’s event included aerial performances on the main stage, live DJs and most interestingly, MOVE IT PRO sessions. These sessions were designed as invaluable sessions for students, teachers, graduates and professionals to get an inside look and advice about the industry. Sessions over the weekend included a talk called ‘Get Your Dream Career’ with speakers such as The Hustle’s Sup Dhanasunthorn and infamous dance teacher Abbey Lee Miller from American TV show Dance Moms.

There was no shortage of dance celebrities across the weekend either, as well as Miller, MOVE IT brought many other industry big names to London including Tap legend Jason Samuels Smith who performed on the Main Stage on Saturday presented by Bloch and Darcey Bussell who was promoting her DDMIX (Diverse Dance Mix) dance fitness classes.

Bussell was also part of the new Mass Shakedown initiative across the weekend, which was designed to get the approximately 5,000 people who watch the Main Stage performances up and dancing. Alongside her DDMIX team, Bussell led the Main Stage on Sunday through three fitness routines the first amusingly set to an up beat and ‘funky’ version of the theme from Swan Lake which got the majority of the audience up and copying her easy to follow movements.

Saturday’s Mass Shakedown was led by Akram Khan Company who taught Khan’s moves for Big Dance 2016 in preparation for the performance by 1,000 Londoners in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 2nd July.

As always, MOVE IT was full of the UK’s major dance colleges and students either performing or scouting out the place where they’d like to further their dance training. A great tool for this was the Showcase Theatre, which has been running at the event for four years now. The stage had several short showcases throughout the day, which included a handful of colleges and dance courses in each to give those thinking of studying at a particular school the chance to see them in action.

This years MOVE IT was as much about celebrating dance as it was about professional development and offering a supportive event for all dancers. With world-class performances, over 230 classes on offer in every dance style from belly dance to acrobatics and lots of interviews and seminars, it certainly has kept its place as one of the most important events of the dance calendar. A firm favourite with dancers of every style and every age, its truly a one of a kind event and this year was arguably it’s biggest and best yet. Here’s to MOVE IT 2017…

Main photo: ENBYOuthCo perform on the Main Stage at MOVE IT by Milda Samsonaite

Alice Westoby studied Dance at the University of Chichester and now works in arts marketing in London, as well as writing about dance for A Younger Theatre and London Calling. She has taken part in The Place’s Resolution Review 2016. Find her on Twitter @alicemayw_

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