Magical family puppet adventure Cloud Man comes to Southbank Centre this Christmas!

Cloud Man, Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall
Saturday 22 December – Sunday 6 January
Get tickets here

We caught up with the only Cloud Man expert, Cloudia Engle (Resident Scientist and respected meteorologist at ‘The Hut’, Cloud Mountain) to find out a bit more about Cloud Men…

What is it like to live on Cloud Mountain?

It is fascinating to see and be so close to all the different types of clouds but it can get quite draughty.

What happens when it gets particularly windy – is this dangerous for Cloud Men?

I have evidence to believe that when Cloud Men are in small groups (which is very rare), they participate in thrilling cloud races across the sky.

What do you think is a Cloud Man’s favourite type of weather?

I have spotted Cloud Men looking particularly happy when the sun is shining and it is raining at the same time.

You have said that Cloud Men make sculptures and shapes from the clouds. What kind shapes do they make?

I have seen all kinds of things in the clouds. I recommend looking for cloud sculptures on a bright clear day when there are blue skies and big fluffy clouds (nimbus or cumulonimbus clouds to be precise).

We’re celebrating winter at Southbank Centre this year. What’s your favourite thing about winter?

Cold weather and snow clouds are particularly exciting, as this seems to increase the chances of seeing a Cloud Man…

So don’t miss your chance to see a Cloud Man this winter at Southbank Centre from Saturday 22 December – Sunday 6 January. Get your tickets here:

Classical Indian Dancer Pallavi Saran Gujral performs at Southbank Centre

On the 4th May Southbank Centre welcomes the celebrated Bharatantyam dancer, Pallavi Saran Gujral, to perform at the Purcell Room as part of the Double Bill of Classical Indian Music and Dance.

Here is a preview of what we can expect to see on the night:

Bhratanatyam is one of the oldest forms of classical Indian dance, originating 2000 years ago in Southern India, and is rarely performed in the UK. Pallavi will be accompanied by live music from vocalist Venkateshwaran Kuppuswamy, violinist Jyotsna Srikanth and mridangamist (percussionist) Ramamoorthy Sriganesh.

For more info and to book tickets click here


Our judge for this Friday’s Dance Your City Competition made headlines last week – the Guardian even talks about ‘fashion history’ and the ‘event of the season’. London Fashion Week 2012: Stella McCartney invites to a dinner in an old church in Mayfair. The guest list includes Kate Moss, Rihanna, Zaha Hadid and Kanye West. Suddenly some of the guests start a flash dance in the evening wear of Stella McCartney. Supermodels and dancers including the choreographer Blanca Li herself surprised the soiree with this special display of fashion. This video gives an idea of the spectacle by the remarkable choreographer, responsible for Daft Punk’s 1997 ‘Around The World’ music video:

There are still some tickets for Blanca Li’s show Elektro Kif this Friday and Saturday. You could even give it a try and learn some cool Elektro Kif moves in the workshop on Saturday afternoon 14:00!

On Friday at 18:00 Dance Your City Competition finals will take place live in The Clore Ballroom, free to everyone and sure to be an epic battle.

Stella McCartney’s party will go down in fashion history (Guardian article)

Daft Punk – Around the World (YouTube)

Get tickets for the show

Meet the Dance Your City Judges

Our panel of experts will choose the ultimate winner of the Dance Your City competition at the Live Final on 2 March 2012. Check out the finalists here

Blanca Li

Born in Granada Spain, Blanca Li studied dance in New York and then relocated to France where she founded her own company in 1993. Since then she has created and produced a wide range of dance and non-dance projects featuring flamenco, feature films, classical ballet, multi-media exhibitions and hip hop. In 1999 she created the award-winning Macadam Macadam featuring 11 hip hop dancers, roller skaters and a BMX biker. In recognition of her innovative contributions to contemporary dance, Blanca Li is a recipient of the Manuel de Falla Award, the Globe de Christal and the Premio Max and was named Chevalier de l´Ordre du Mérite and Officier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.


Kate Prince


Kate is the Artistic Director of ZooNation Dance Company which she founded in 2002. In May 2010 she became an Associate Artist at Sadler’s Wells and ZooNation became a Resident Company.

In 2008 Kate directed and co-choreographed ZooNation’s five-star award-winning production Into the Hoods at the Novello Theatre which became both the first ever Hip Hop dance show to open in the West End and the longest running dance show in the West End’s history. In 2011 Kate wrote, directed and co-choreographed ZooNation’s production Some Like it Hip Hop at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre which enjoyed a critically successful sell-out run.

Kate has choreographed for two seasons of So You Think You Can Dance (BBC) and for the movie StreetDance 3D.


Kenrick “H20” Sandy

Kenrick “H2O” Sandy is a choreographer, performer, teacher and Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Oliver Awarded Boy Blue Entertainment. Kenrick’s career spans over 10 years, both nationally and internationally. Video choreographic credits include Peter Andre and Plan B, Alexandra Burke, Misteeq, Beverley Knight, Big Brovas, Victoria Beckham, Sophie Ellis-Bexter, Dizzee Rascal and All Saints. Boy Blue Entertainment’s production of Pied Piper won an Olivier Award and the company won Best Dance Act Award at the Black Entertainment Film, Fashion, Television and Arts Awards in 2010. With this incredible list of achievements Kenrick is highly recognised as one of the most accomplished Hip Hop specialists from the UK today.


Peter Maniam

PeterManiam is the Projects Manager at Breakin Convention, the UKs festival of Hip Hop Dance Theatre. Launched in 2004, the festival profiles the world’s elite hip-hop performers, nurtures  UK-based talent and challenges the possibilities of Hip Hop Dance Theatre. Based at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, the festival now includes a UK tour to Plymouth, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Inverness, Sheffield, Brighton, Bristol and Leeds.


Wendy Martin

Wendy joined Southbank Centre in the Spring of 2011 as the Head of Performance and Dance. She had previously been living and working in Australia. In 2000 Wendy joined Cultural Affairs a the City of Sydney and was responsible for curating a program of outdoor performance across the city during the Olympics as well as producing the live event and broadcast for the arrival of the Olympic Flame into the City of Sydney. At the end of 2000 Wendy joined Sydney Opera House as a producer where she developed a number of significant events and productions. In 2006, Wendy was appointed Head of Theatre and Dance at Sydney Opera House and developed the international performance series “Adventures.” This program has presented work by artists including dancer Sylvie Guillem, director Peter Brook, Juliette Binoche, Akram Khan, Hofesh Shechter, Improbable Theatre, Patti Smith, and comedian Daniel Kitson. She produced Nigel Jamieson’s award winning physical theatre/dance work, Honour Bound that toured Australia, the UK and Europe in 2007. In 2008 Wendy founded SpringDance Australia’s only international contemporary dance Festival that is now a much anticipated annual event. In May 2011 she moved to London to take up the position of Head of Performance and Dance at Southbank Centre.

Conversations with Klein and Sassoon

Probably like you, I meet and talk to lots of people in any one week. Some of the conversations are uplifting and the words uttered are reaffirming, staying with me for a long time, causing me to pause and consider, shaping my mind. Other conversations are fleeting with a promise to follow up soon.

One recent conversation was with Emily Phillips from Psychologies Magazine. Emily interviewed me in December for publication in January 2012 on the moments that have changed my life. Emily captured me well. I found reading her interpretation of what motivates me extremely affirming and her insights into my loves and passions were just glorious. Just like Emily I too enjoy finding out about people and documenting the discussion and at MSL we call these events Semple Secrets.

On Saturday 4 February 2012 at 2pm, MSL will host its next Semple Secrets event at Southbank Centre. I am excited about our event as I will be in conversation with two iconic fashion designers – Roland Klein and David Sassoon. They have many things in common – they share a love of designing clothes for women, they have designed for the discerning rich and famous including the late Diana Princess of Wales and they are generous with passing on their flair for creative knowledge, particularly to the next generation. Roland and David will display a few of their celebrated dresses and talk to the audience about the inspiration behind each garment as well as divulging their secrets about working with celebrities.

Come and join us on 4 February as we would love to meet you.

Maggie Semple

Join Maggie at Southbank Centre on 4 February for Semple Secrets. Get tickets here. 

Introducing Blanca Li

Blanca Li, choreographer and director of Elektro Kif, the new Street Dance show coming to Southbank Centre in March 2012, tells us about how she got into dance, her big break and  the dance film she made that inspired our facebook competition Dance Your City ( Blanca is one of the judges for the Dance Your City Live Final on 2 March.

How did you first get into dance? 

I started at 12 as a gymnast for the Spanish national team and at 15 I decided to go into dance which I found more artistic, creative and less competitive. I admired dance since I was very little and I had always told my mother I wanted to become a dancer, I loved it! I also wanted to create my own dances, so at a young age I started making my own choreography. I could never do one without the other.

Tell us about your dance company

My dance company exists since 1992. There are between 10 and 50 dancers that works regularly with the company with really different styles like hip hop, flamenco, contemporary, classical, electro (some combine different styles too). Some dancers have been with the company for 15 years and new  ones come in every year. This keeps the energy in the company. The dancers who really know my work for a long time assist me in helping the new dancers to learn and rehearsing, recreating the shows and keeping them in good shape. I have a really good team. Since the creation of the company we have been touring around the world with 13 different full length shows, across Europe, Africa, Asia and America, performing over a thousand times.

Did you have a big break in dance?

My big moment was at seventeen when I arrived in NY to study dance at the Martha Graham School. It was a great experience that lasted 5 years, I saw the birth of Hip hop and learned about all styles of dance from all over the world.
Also it was a very important time for me when I first came to France and performed at the Avignon Off Festival. This was the starting point of my dance company.

Tell us about the video you created for the Dance Your City competition

I love very much the Eiffel Tower; it’s very modern, even if it was constructed for the Exposition Universal in 1881. I think it represents Paris and Electro Dance started in Paris, so I thought it would be great to show this dance in front of the Tower to give it an identity. The opening scene of my first feature film “Le Défi” (The Dance Challenge) is in front of the Eiffel Tower because at the time I wanted to show how French hip hop had developed as its own style and with its own identity.


Dance Your City – the making of…

So, Dance Your City is now live and we’re ready to start watching all your video submissions! In the run up to the opening of the competition there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes to prepare for the big launch day. We’ve been setting up and carefully designing the Facebook page but most importantly we’ve been filming some excellent promo videos with Soul Mavericks and Flowzaic.

The idea behind these two videos was to film two dance videos at two different iconic locations to show you guys the kind of thing we’re looking for and challenge you to go one better! Because we were feeling particularly lazy last Wednesday our fist location was right outside our office…luckily working at Southbank Centre we were surrounded with options from Big Ben to Trafalgar Square. However, we finally settled on filming by the Hayward Gallery since the brutalist architecture gives the video a real feel of London with a great view of the London Eye in the background.

Once Coopdog had finished posing…

…he and R-Qi-Tek did some free style breaking interspersed with a couple of bits that they planned before hand. As all true professionals do they pulled this off first take (or maybe second!). It ended up looking something like this:

Flowzaic wanted to film somewhere iconic but a little different. Myself (filming) and Jessica, who programmes dance events here, met the girls at Greenwich foot tunnel. Well, technically we met at Starbucks and had a coffee, but don’t tell my boss that.

We filmed down in the tunnel which has given a really urban, grimy, dark feel to the video, which reminded me a little of The Prodigy’s music video for Firestarter. The girls put together a great routine with a little hint of boogaloo and some locking thrown in, so good that a passerby threw some money their way! Check out the finished product:

We hope you like what we’ve put together, but really these videos are just a starting point for you guys to go out and get inspired and creative. Find a location you feel is iconic – wherever you might live and then show us what you can do for the chance to perform on the Southbank Centre stage. Best of luck!

Enter the competition:
Join the discussion on twitter: #danceyourcity