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Square Dances

Rosemary Lee

Photo by Hugo Glendinning

A major outdoor and large scale performance, Square Dances involved over 200 dancers of all ages. Spanning four central London squares, this large-scale cross-generational work was presented over one weekend in October as part of Dance Umbrella 2011.

Rosemary worked with four groups of professional and non-professional dancers from across London over a period of seven weeks. Each group, divided into 9-11 year olds, dance students, 50 men and 100 women aged 18+, performed six times over the day, in one of the four locations in Gordon, Woburn, Queen and Brunswick Squares.

Like migrating birds, the dancers surprise the audience and passers by their sudden appearance and intensity of performance and their equally fleeting dispersal. Just as the traces of history remain inherent to the squares themselves, the distilled and poetic quality of the dances imprint a lasting image on the spectators’ memory.

With no set, and only a few props, each dance is accompanied by the sound of live bell ringing – from the toll of a large solo bell hanging in one square or the cacophony of bells held by the dancers in another to a specially commissioned piece by Terry Mann.

Square Dances built on the legacy of Rosemary’s previous cross-generational project, Common Dance, which she created for and with Greenwich Dance and Dance Umbrella in 2009.

“One of the most artfully conceived and executed community dance events I’ve seen.”

Donald Hutera, Dance Europe

“All in all, an unforgettable re-casting of London’s lovely topography.”

Mark Monohan, The Telegraph

“Quietly subversive and disarming, Square Dances enacted gentle freedoms; freedom to move, freedom to be still and free to watch.”

Lizzy le Quesne, Animated

“Beautiful – deeply affecting piece – we really loved it and wanted it to go on and on.”


“The performers conveyed a confidence in ‘place,’ in common with the squirrels and the birds; they seemed to belong there.”


Square Dances is co-commissioned and presented by Dance Umbrella in association with Artsadmin.
Supported by Bloomberg.


Date Title Venue City
8–9 October 2011 Square Dances Dance Umbrella Various Squares, Central London
Photo by Hugo Glendinning