Deborah Bull's Dance Nation

Episodes

EpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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01The Dance Of Old England20120924

Dancer, writer and broadcaster, Deborah Bull looks at what we know - or have imagined - about the dances of Old England, including May Day events like the 'Obby 'Oss Festival in Cornwall, Cecil Sharp's late-Victorian nostalgia fueled folk dance revival and early accounts of Morris dancing.

Deborah also tries out some of the moves devised by miners from the Northumberland coalfields with a team of rapper sword dancers.

Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

02The Permitted Embrace20120925

Dancer, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull, looks at the link between dance and courtship and the enduring appeal of dance as a vehicle for getting up close and personal.

The scandalous Elizabethan dance, La Volta, and other courtly dances offered a rare opportunity for people to assess up-close the attributes of their potential romantic partners. Regency country dances have so often been central to the romance in screen adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. But the introduction of the Waltz into British society in the early nineteenth century caused outrage.

Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

03The Strictness Of Ballroom20120926

Dancer, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull looks at the emergence of dance as a competitive activity.

She charts the rise of the genteel, restrained English Style of ballroom dancing as a defence against the 1920s 'invasion' of the Charleston, the Black Bottom and other American imports, feared by polite society as wild and uncontrolled.

As she sweeps across the floor with a leading teacher of ballroom dance, Deborah discovers that, when the stiff upper lip combined with the irrepressible urge to dance, the craze for competitive dancing was born - a craze that has seen many incarnations, most recently with the spectacular success of Strictly Come Dancing.

Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

04Dancing To Our Own Beat20120927

Dancer, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull, looks at the rise of dancing on one's own and in ways that draw on our most basic rhythms and instincts.

From the explosion of the twist in the early 1960s, through ska and reggae, to street dance today, Deborah considers how many of the dances which have invited us to "dance to our own beat" have come from Africa and the Caribbean. Along the way she learns some of the key ingredients of traditional African dance, evident in so many of our most popular dances.

Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.

05 LASTDance Yourself Cheerful20120928

Dancer, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull looks at moments when dance has been a vital part of the national expression of resilience or, at the very least, an opportunity for escape.

We hear how, during the Second World War, men and women all over Britain turned garrisons, factories and air raid shelters into dance halls, taking up novelty dances like the Siegfried Line Dance, the Blackout Stroll and the Gas Mask Dance. And we discover how the arrival of the GIs, along with the jive, taught the nation a new way to dance.

After trying some jive herself, Deborah looks at Northern soul, punk and acid house as responses to the harsh economic realities and urban decline of the 1970s and 80s.

And what about now? Deborah asks what effect today's hard times might turn out to have on the way we dance.

Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder

A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4.