Eurovision 2010: Filming the interval act

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

Image caption,
About 400 people turned up for the late-night shoot in north London

Last year in Moscow, the interval act for the Eurovision Song Contest was Fuerza Bruta.

The troupe, which originated in Buenos Aires, catapulted its dancers high above the audience's heads, where they splashed and somersaulted in swimming pools suspended from the roof.

This year, however, the interval act is... me.

Well, me and a few thousand other amateur dancers, in 10 cities across Europe, stumbling our way through a routine that wouldn't look out of place on a Jane Fonda workout video.

The idea, according to the Eurovision website, is that Europe will "share a common musical experience".

There's no guarantee it will be a positive one.


The dance is set to Low, a new song by Norwegian dance duo MadCon, who scored a UK hit two years ago with their cover of Frankie Vali's Beggin'.

It will be performed live during the Eurovision final on Saturday night, intercut with pre-recorded videos of dancers across the continent replicating the routine.

Image caption,
Last year's interval act was a visual spectacular

It was my duty, as your intrepid Eurovision reporter, to join in with the UK leg last month.

Now, my previous attempts at choreography have not exactly been bathed in glory.

Attempting to recreate a Janet Jackson video in my bedroom, aged 14, the plastic fold-away chair I was using as a prop snapped shut on my legs like a venus fly-trap.

I spent the next few weeks hobbling between lessons in school, pretending I'd fallen down an open manhole.

So it was with some reluctance that I travelled to The Place, a renowned dance studio in North London, for my moment of Eurovision glory.

About 400 people joined me, in a wide range of ages, shapes and abilities (and a startling uniformity in their attraction to the colour pink).

We gathered in the street just after teatime as Camilla Tellefsen, our 28-year-old choreographer, worked her way through the crowd saying hello.

"We'll be doing section one and section three tonight," she informed the group nearest to me.

Hold on a... Did she just... What?!

Yes, unbeknownst to me, everyone who had signed up for the event (instead of arranging it through a press officer) was sent a video of the routine and had diligently learned their dance steps at home.

Given that I normally have all the coordination and balance of a frightened puppy on a see-saw, my lack of preparation could only end in tears.


Luckily, I was blessed with two guardian angels.

Belinda May and Jason Clapperton had travelled down from Leeds and Nottingham to take part, and courteously gave me an idiot's guide to the steps.

It wasn't too bad - hands in the air, a couple of finger clicks, and a big wave to the camera.

Camilla then spent an hour walking us through the footwork - adapting and refining the routine as she gauged the crowd's ability.

Image caption,
William Starritt and Belinda May: "It was mad!"

A few about-turns were added, and professional dancers from The Place were roped in to execute a balletic lift at the beginning of the routine.

To begin with, we were pretty scrappy. At least three people ended the first run-through facing the wrong way - and I'm pretty sure I thumped a granny in the arm at one point.

Slowly, however, it began to come together. We may not have had the punch and snap of Diversity, but our limbs were largely synchronised.

As we began filming for real, there was a fantastically British sense of occasion.

People grumbled stoically as we were herded around for the cameras, and one dancer called Dave Nixon won the crowd's respect for refusing to surrender his leather jacket as the sun set and the temperature plummeted.

The shoot took about an hour, breaking a strict noise curfew set by The Place - who had a show beginning at nine o'clock.

This meant the final two run-throughs had to be conducted in silence - with Camilla listening to the music on headphones and counting us in at the appropriate time.

I don't think I ever fully perfected the moves (the transition from "right turn" to "bow-and-arrow" caught me out every time) but by the end, it looked like a scene from Fame. Albeit Fame 3: The Lost Talent Years.


"Did you have fun? You learned it on the spot, right?!" Camilla asked me afterwards.

Image caption,
Teacher and pupil - still smiling at the end of a three-hour dance class

The choreographer, who lives and works in Oslo, said she was "really pleased" at how the English fans had performed.

"When you come here and you meet all the people and they have so much energy - it's just amazing. They really worked hard. I'm impressed."

Professionals from The Place agreed: "That was really impressive," said 20-year-old dance student Chris Scott.

"The commitment from people - doing it without the music. It was so interesting."

But how did the participants rate their own performances?

"I really enjoyed it! It was mad," laughed Belinda May. "We couldn't be here for some of the instructions, so we kind of followed everyone else."

"The important thing about this dance is it could become something big," added William Starritt, a Scottish Eurovision fanatic.

"Look at the way Riverdance went. It went global.

"I think our little flashmob dance could go global, too."

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