The MOVE IT dance festival descends on the massive London Excel centre for a long weekend every spring. Having launched in 2006, MOVE IT now self-advertises as the ‘the world’s biggest [and best] dance event’. Although the dance and performance arts festival doesn’t spill over to both halls in the Excel Centre, there are plenty of dancers, students and industry professionals at the event: performing set choreography, improvising on stage, teaching classes and manning a variety of stands. If you’ve never been to the MOVE IT dance show, here’s what to expect…

a hip-hop dance group jumps

Dance Performances on Multiple Stages

The MOVE IT Dance Festival Main Stage

The MOVE IT dance show runs multiple stages, featuring performers across many different dance genres. The main stage includes acts from dance professionals in addition to pieces danced and choreographed by college students. You’ll even see children representing their dance studios and community dance groups with set routines.

The area around the main stage gets crowded outside of the VIP area, and there are no seats; but it’s possible to stand further back and watch the dancers from the torso-up. (Note: this isn’t so great if the choreographer has decided to include lots of floorwork.) But there are breaks between performances sets; so, ’MOVE IT’ and take the opportunity to scope out a good spot for when the action starts up again.

dancers catch a boy from a lift

The performers come from all over the UK, and some already have a huge following. Expect cell phones to rise in front of your face as excited audience members clamor to take videos of their dance idols. Other groups are less well known, particularly those with fan bases further away from London; but it’s especially nice that the charismatic host graciously encourages a hearty applause for each act.

If you purchase access to the ‘MOVE IT After Dark’ event, you’ll see plenty more dance performances on the main stage, too.

The Improvisation Stage

All of the acts for the MOVE IT Main Stage are scheduled ahead of time. However, attendees can sign up for dance improvisation slots on the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, jot your name down on the list for a quick freestyle round in your own dance style. When you step on stage, see how the music and energy of the crowd inspires your body to move.

If you choose to watch, rather than participate, you’ll see a lot of young London dance talent grace the stage. At the end of each round, dancers are selected by a panel of judges to advance in the dance competition. The judges also award a few ‘wild card’ slots to deserving performers, giving hem an additional chance to compete in the MOVE IT dance finals.

a girl dances on a checkered floor

The Fashion Stage – aka: The Rhythm Runway

Whether you’re looking for athletic wear and dancewear for rehearsals or you’re scouting costumes for a specific performance – you should check out the runway at London’s MOVE IT dance fest. You ain’t never seen models strut down the stage with high kicks, hair flips and aerials like this. You can scope out the latest dance fashions; and you can see how the material moves on stage before you run purchase the apparel at the stands on site.

female dancers with fans

Dance Classes and Auditions

A dance festival wouldn’t be a dance festival if there weren’t dance classes led by inspiring dance artists. Unfortunately, admission to London’s MOVE IT dance event doesn’t include class admission – but it makes sense. The class studios would be stuffed to the brim with dance enthusiasts that are too scrunched to move. Once you purchase your festival ticket, you can add dance classes and seminars to your existing booking. You can choose from a variety of dance styles, categorized by skill level: open, intermediate, advanced, etc.

The MOVE IT dance festival also provides dancers the opportunity to audition for gigs. In 2019, Royal Caribbean held auditions for dancers (age 18+) to join the production shows on their cruise ships. They held two separate auditions – one for hip-hop dance performers and one for contemporary dance artists.

Royal Caribbean International audition studio at MOVE IT Dance Festival

Miscellaneous Fun at MOVE IT

Yes, ‘miscellaneous fun’ at MOVE IT dance festival sounds corny… But how else would you classify a ginormous acro-tumbling pad – or a roller skating rink? Since MOVE IT is one of London’s biggest dance industry events, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a dance celebrity during your visit, and there may even be a chance to take photos with a dance idol during a meet and great. (Neil and Katya Jones had quite a queue as they promoted their show, Somnium: A Dancer’s Dream.) However, if you’re celebrity enough, you can find your own dance photo opportunities – like in front of a giant poster for The Greatest Dancer or the magazine cover set of the UK’s Dancing Times magazine.

Katya Jones teaches a dance class at Move IT Dance Festival

London’s MOVE IT Dance Festival in Review

Admittedly, the event seems geared towards younger dancers – or at least those who have not yet entered a university dance programme. But organized adult dancers and professionals can squeeze in some decent networking at less-busy stands. It’s a good place to learn a little bit more about local London dance studios that you haven’t yet visited.

For more information about the MOVE IT festival in London, please visit https://www.moveitdance.co.uk/.

Have you been to this London dance show? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!


Disclosure: Dance Dispatches received free admission to the MOVE IT dance festival in London as a dance industry professional. If you would like to us to feature your dance event on our site, please refer to our Work With Us page.

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