The BBC has announced details of dance coming on TV and radio in first half of 2019, with highlights including dancers of all ages coming together to compete to become The Greatest Dancer on BBC One with podcasts on BBC Sounds; the first UK #DancePassion day featuring live performances and talks from leading dance companies; and the return of BBC Young Dancer, with the final at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Starting on January 5, 2019 on BBC One and with an emphasis on entertainment, new prime-time talent show The Greatest Dancer will invite dancers of any age and dance style to compete to be the ‘Greatest Dancer’. The programme will be presented by well-known singer, dancer, rapper, model, television presenter and talent show judge, Alesha Dixon; and member of street dance troupe Diversity, Jordan Banjo.
In what sounds something like Strictly: It Takes Two that runs alongside Strictly Come Dancing, BBC Sounds will unveil a Greatest Dancer podcast presented by Jorden Banjo and BBC Radio 1’s Mollie King that will go behind the scenes of the TV programme with special guests, exclusive backstage access and all the gossip from the show. Episode one will be available to download on Friday January 4, with subsequent episodes available the day after the show on BBC One.
In April, BBC Arts will launch the first ever #DancePassion digital dance festival in collaboration with One Dance UK, the dance sector support organisation. Featuring more than 50 dance companies from across the country, #DancePassion will showcase the UK’s dance sector in all its variety, “from ballet to bhangra and swing to street.” We are promised behind-the-scenes access into parts of the off-stage dance world usually hidden, with insights into the wider benefits of dance on health and well-being. #DancePassion runs from April 1-6, with a live-streaming day on April 5.
#DancePassion follows on from the BBC’s successful #OperaPassion day in 2017 which saw BBC Arts Digital collaborate with eight leading opera companies and major cultural institutions for an unprecedented day of live streaming.
BBC Young Dancer returns for its third series in 2019 with the Category Finals on BBC Four towards the end of April and the Grand Final live from the Birmingham Hippodrome on BBC Two on Saturday May 18. The series will follow the usual format, showcasing exceptional dancers in ballet, contemporary, South Asian dance and street dance. Working in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells, the competition provides a platform for UK dancers aged 16-21 to demonstrate their dance abilities through four competitive rounds designed to highlight their technical command, creative and expressive capabilities.
On BBC Radio 3, Katie Derham will return with another series of Sound of Dance in which she explores the relationship between music and dance in a variety of genres.
Looking ahead to the seasons, Jonty Claypole, BBC director of arts says, “Dance truly is a powerful and transformative art form; whether with friends on a night out or through viewing extraordinary feats of art from the UK’s many professional dance companies. In the UK we are lucky to have one of the most thriving dance scenes in the world, and in 2019 we will open the doors to audiences everywhere via entertainment, specialist arts and digital programmes. We want to bring the nation together around a love of dance and showcase the extraordinary artistry in the UK.”