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Breaking with convention

Boris Johnson wants millions of Londoners to dance on the streets in celebration of the Olympics. James Woodall says that Britain has become home to the world’s funkiest dance scene

By James Woodall   May 2011

Dance is a difficult art, often taxing audiences as much as it does its super-fit practitioners. It is also enveloped in an elitist air—especially ballet, crafted from a combination of rare physical expertise, years of graft and, on the parts of both performer and spectator, detailed technical knowledge.

Films such as Black Swan and the new BBC4 series Agony & Ecstasy—a fly-on-the-wall look at English National Ballet—have alerted us to the travails of the dancing life. It can be punishing (although Black Swan pushes the abuse too far). To rise to the top, you must have something special; you must…

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