BEIRUT: The center of Beirut filled with music Friday afternoon as the Big Dance event got under way Downtown, with some 1,300 children from schools across the country taking part.
A British Council initiative, the Big Dance was held at Nijmeh Square, with students gathering early afternoon to practice their choreographed dance several times before the impressive synched main performance at 3 p.m.
Coming under the umbrella of the British Council’s “Connecting Classrooms” global project, which aims to develop links between the U.K. and other countries, 22 Lebanese private and public schools took part in the Big Dance for the second year running.
The British Ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, attended the dance extravaganza, as did Mohammad Jamal, who was representing the director general of the Education Ministry.
Simultaneous Big Dance events were held around the world in some 30 other countries at exactly the same time Friday, with the aim of increasing cross-cultural relationships between participating countries, while also engaging children in a fun, and healthy, activity.
Mayssa Dawi, the education project manager at the British Council in Lebanon, explained that of the 165 schools in Lebanon taking part in the Connecting Classrooms program, these 22 were particularly enthusiastic about the dance event.
All schools were sent the dance DVD a couple of months ago, and have had until now to practice their moves.
“As part of their Physical Education curriculum, the Big Dance is a good way to encourage children to try sports and have fun at the same time,” Dawi said.
“Dance is a great way to share activities with your peers, the kids can share different styles and help each other out.”
Maria, 13, from the Modern Saint Anthony School in Jbeil, said she thought that dance “is a way to help Lebanese people communicate with each other.”
Leading one section of the pack was a group from Amir Shakib Arslan Public School in Verdun.
One of the students, Kamar, 15, said she loves to dance as it is a great way to express yourself. “When you dance, you feel free,” Kamar said.
Her friend Nora, 16, said that she enjoyed the “freestyle” section of the dance the most, when the kids could break out of the choreographed routine and dance however they wished.
Dancing is the best way to exercise, she said, “just close your eyes and do whatever you want, dance however you want to dance.”
Hadir, also 16, was a little unimpressed with the skills of some of the younger dancers during the practice sessions running up to the main event at 3 p.m.
“This event is awesome,” he explained, “but some of the little kids are making too many mistakes. Next time will be perfect though.”