Monday, 14 May 2012

Call for volunteers to put best foot forward for Olympics celebration

Sharon Watson leading a rehearsal of the mass-participation dance. Photos by Brian Slater

The call has gone out this week for volunteers eager to play a special role in the spectacular Olympic Torch celebration event to be held at Temple Newsam Park in June.

As one of the elements of the free event to be held on Sunday 24 June to mark the iconic flame being in Leeds, the audience will be asked to take part in a mass-participation dance the scale of which has never been seen before in the city.

Led by 50 dancers on stage from RJC Dance, Yorkshire Dance Youth, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy, local organisers Leeds City Council and Space2 are now looking to attract 1,962 recruits to join in to make a combined 2012-dancer performance which the rest of the crowd will then be encouraged to repeat.

Any individuals over the age of 16 can volunteer to take part, while under-16s, dance and youth groups must be accompanied by adults. No previous dance experience is needed as rehearsals will be held to learn the routine in the run-up to the event. The routine will also be accessible for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. Anyone interested in volunteering can find out more at

At the event the volunteers will be positioned in front of the stage to join with the 50 on-stage performers in leading the mass dance, which is being choreographed by Sharon Watson, artistic director of Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre.

The event performance and all the rehearsals are being co-ordinated by Space2, a local charity which engages with local communities from across Leeds by using the arts as a focus for increasing self-esteem and community cohesion.

In addition to the mass dance there will also be performance poetry from Leeds Young Authors and a mass sing led by international singer, jazz pianist and choir master Pete Churchill along with over 200 members of local community choirs.

The show, which will feature headline performances by Friendly Fires and Little Comets, is being staged by Coca-Cola, a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay, and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). One of the highlights of the event will be the arrival of the Olympic Torch itself on stage after travelling across Leeds.

The Temple Newsam Park event is one of only four major overnight Olympic Torch celebration events being held in the UK as the torch travels around the country on its 70-day tour before reaching the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday 27 July 2012.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:
“The Temple Newsam Olympic celebration event is going to an amazing spectacle and it would be fantastic to see the whole crowd taking part in the mass-participation elements.

“We are thrilled to be working with RJC Dance, Yorkshire Dance Youth, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy and we know they will produce a sensational display and really showcase their wonderful talents.

“The mass-participation dance should be a lot of fun and everyone who volunteers will have a never-to-be-forgotten story to tell so I would encourage everyone to sign up and get involved.”

To find out how to volunteer and get instructions for the mass dance go to


Notes to editors:

The event is part of the Move to the Beat campaign led by Coca Cola.

The Olympic Torch Relay is being managed by The London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) along with partners Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. The relay will begin at Land’s End in Cornwall on the morning of Saturday 19 May 2012 after the flame arrives in the UK from Greece the previous day.

The flame will then embark on a 70-day tour of the UK, travelling 8,000 miles 12 hours a day with 66 overnight stops around the country en route to London on July 27 2012, where it will light the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium to officially declare the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In total the Olympic Flame will be carried across the UK by 8,000 inspirational torchbearers each of whom will have a story of personal achievement and/or contribution to the local community.

Space2 is a not for profit organisation using creativity and community involvement to effect positive change and improve outcomes for deprived communities and vulnerable individuals. This is achieved through a combination of creative approaches to current provision; adding projects that are person-centred, using the arts as a focus for increasing self-esteem and community cohesion; driving new and local partnerships. For further information contact Emma Tregidden or Dawn Fuller on 0113 320 0159 or visit

SHARON WATSON - Artistic Director, Phoenix Dance Theatre
Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon danced with Spiral and Extemporary Dance Theatre before joining Phoenix as a dancer from 1989 to 1997. Whilst there she worked with choreographers such as Michael Clarke, Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller, Darshan Singh Bhuller and Philip Taylor. She was also heavily involved in Phoenix’s education programmes and delivery. Sharon was appointed as the 7th Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre in May 2009 and in 2010 was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s Women to Watch, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK selected by a distinguished panel made up of figures from the cultural and creative industries. Since returning to the company Sharon has choreographed Fast Lane for Phoenix’s Ignite tour and re-worked Never Still into Never 2 Still. Her latest work Melt features as part of the Reflected mixed programme. In 2011 Sharon was one of the judges for the inaugural New Adventures Choreographer Award. She is currently undertaking Leadership Advance, funded by Arts Council England. For more information go to:


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472