Deborah Bull's Dance Nation

A Just Radio Production for BBC Radio 4
Producer: Hannah Rosenfelder
September 2012

Dance is one of the UK's most popular activities. Many of us regularly attend dance performances, there has been an explosion of dance in schools and Strictly Come Dancing is a national obsession. So here, dancer, writer and broadcaster, Deborah Bull offers up a social history of dance in the UK. She looks at what we know - or have imagined - about the dances of 'Old England'; at how we've danced to find love; how we've danced to find competition success; how we've danced to find ourselves; and how we've danced to lose ourselves and find refuge during some of the darkest moments in our national history. Along the way, she dusts down her own dance shoes to try out some Northumbrian rapper sword dancing and some Elizabethan courtly dances. She whirls around the floor to the Viennese waltz, works her hips in the twist and swings with the jive.

Programme One: The Dance of Old England
Deborah Bull on what we know - or have imagined - about the dances of Old England.

Programme Two: The Permitted Embrace
Deborah Bull looks at the link between dance and courtship.

Programme Three: The Strictness of Ballroom
Deborah Bull on the emergence of dance as a competitive activity.

Programme Four: Dancing to Our Own Beat
Deborah Bull on the moment when we broke off from our partners and started dancing solo.

Programme Five: Dance Yourself Cheerful
Dancer Deborah Bull looks at the role dance has played during some of our toughest times.