If you’re out and about in Wales between 7th and 15th July, don’t be surprised if you find yourself tempted to start moving and grooving. That’s because all across the country, dance companies will be taking to town centres, parks, piers and other public places as part of the UK’s biggest ever celebration of dance.

Big Dance Week is part of Big Dance 2012, one of the many ways the creative arts world is celebrating the 2012 Olympics, as it aims to inspire creativity and create a lasting legacy. Co-created in Wales by Wales Millennium Centre and Dance Cymru, Big Dance Cymru will see dance events take place across the whole of Wales, including professional and amateur performances, workshops, and events that will encourage members of the public to get involved.

The week culminates in Big Street Dance Day on Saturday 14th July, which will see key towns and cities across Wales host a special programme of free events for the community.

Wales Millennium Centre will be the focal point for Cardiff’s Big Street Dance Day events on Saturday July 14th. Coming to Wales for the first time is The Readers, from French company David Rolland Chorégraphies (outside Wales Millennium Centre at 2pm, and outside City Hall at 4pm). Following performances in Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd, Llangollen International Eisteddfod and Merthyr Tydfil, this is a mass-participatory performance where the audience becomes the performers. Each is given a booklet filled with minute instructions based on simple movements and gestures to create a truly unique contemporary dance work.

Big Dance Week and Big Street Dance Day also coincide with Blysh, Wales Millennium Centre’s annual festival of carnival and cabaret, which takes over the Centre for the whole of July. Big Dance highlights of Blysh include cabaret circuit favourites Kitsch Kats (Saturday 14th July, 3.30pm and 7pm, and Sunday 15th July, 1.30pm, Glanfa Stage – free performance, just turn up on the day). This dynamic comedy dance duo bring to life a host of colourful kitsch characters through the medium of high-energy dance, from Bollywood to vogueing, Charleston to jive. Bongo Bolero (Sunday 15th July, 1pm and 3pm, Glanfa Stage – free performance, just turn up on the day) create extraordinary acrobalance and acrobatic performances that combine circus, comedy and decidedly dodgy dancing that have you roaring with laughter. Havana in 1957 is the scene for Revolution Cubana (Weston Studio, Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th July, 029 2063 6464, £8 to £12). The night is young and the rum is flowing on the steaming hot streets of the Cuban capital. An evening of excess, sin and cigars; there’s one hell of a party on the horizon. Show girls and circus acts will dazzle you as you enter the streets, but beware… the guerillas are gathering. Fancy dress is optional but highly recommended!

The evening will see two performances of the musical, Chicago (Donald Gordon Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, 5pm and 8.30pm, 029 2063 6464, £11-£37.50. Runs from Monday 9th July). It tells of cell block rivals, murderesses Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, who fight to keep themselves from death row with the help of smooth talking lawyer, Billy Flynn. Starring Ali Bastian, Stefan Booth, Tupele Dorgu and Bernie Nolan, big song and dance numbers include All That Jazz and Razzle Dazzle.

The full programme in Cardiff runs as follows:

Midday-8pm     Coreo Cymru Dance Dome      Outside Wales Millennium Centre by ffresh

1.30pm           Rayguns Look Real Enough     Glanfa Stage (Blysh)

1pm                 The Readers                            Outside Wales Millennium Centre under inscription

3.30pm           Kitsch Kats                              Glanfa Stage (Blysh)

4pm                 Rayguns Look Real Enough     Glanfa Stage (Blysh)

4pm                 The Readers                            City Hall, (Cardiff City Centre)

5pm                 Rubicon                                   City Hall

5pm                 Chicago                                    Donald Gordon Theatre

7.30pm           Milongas                                  Norwegian Church

7.30pm           Debbie Chapman Dancers      St David’s Hall

7.30pm           Kitsch Kats                              Glanfa Stage (Blysh)

8pm                 Portraits of Women Who Dance Chapter Arts Centre

8pm                 Revolution Cubana                  Weston Studio (Blysh)

8.30pm           Chicago                                    Donald Gordon Theatre

An attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the biggest ever Bollywood dance in Cardiff Bay will be made on Sunday 15th July. Roald Dahl Plas will come alive with the sounds and colours of the popular Indian dance, as the annual Cardiff Multicultural Mela attempts to beat the current record, which involved 4,428 participants in Mumbai, India, on 26th March 2012. Local dance groups, community groups and members of the public are invited to learn a simple dance routine and take their place in the record books.

Barry, Vale of Glamorgan:
A silent disco and a flash mob are among activities taking part on King Square as Barry hosts the Vale of Glamorgan’s Big Street Dance Day on 14th July. Students from Motion Control Dance Programme will be showcasing their classwork, with performances from other local dance groups too. Free dance taster sessions will take place between 10am and 3pm, in contemporary, locking, popping, breakin, house, hip hop, belly dancing and line dancing. Timings to be confirmed.

Other Welsh highlights of Big Dance Week include:
7th July – The original architectural blue prints and metal-making processes of Ebbw Vale’s former steel works will inspire Finnish choreographer Tanja Råman as she creates a dance piece in which 10 dancers from Ballet Cymru respond to a live score sung by Ebbw Vale Male Voice Choir (whose members include many former steel workers). This performance is part of Adain Avion’s cultural tour of Wales, and the choir will perform the piece live within the fuselage of the plane in synch with Råman’s dance piece on Saturday 7th July at 6pm. See coldrolling.wordpress.com for details.

7th-14th July – Big Dance Week Schools Pledge – Earlier this year, 46 schools in Wales took part in an attempt to break the world record for the largest simultaneous dance. These schools – plus any others who would like to register – will be participating in 20 minutes of dance a day throughout Big Dance Week.

11th July – Silver – a performance from students graduating from Cardiff’s Rubicon Dance at The Riverfront Theatre, Newport, at 7.30pm. This vibrant and diverse evening of dance celebrates 25 years of the full time dance course, with additional performances from Rubicon’s Nu Youth performance groups – Nubrico, Nuworx, Nuxclusive and uNique, as well as other independent dancers, who have accessed the course during its long established history.

14th July – National Youth Dance Wales will be performing extracts from Traces, by NYDW Artistic Director Errol White, at U.Dance 2012 at London’s Southbank Centre. uNique boys’ dance group from Cardiff’s Rubicon Dance will also perform there on Friday 13th July and Powys Youth Dance Group on Sunday 15th July.

Jên Angharad, director of Dance Cymru and curator of the Big Dance Cymru programme of events in Wales, said she was looking forward to seeing the towns and cities of Wales come alive with dance.

She said: “I am very excited about Big Dance in Wales. We’ve had a relatively short amount of time to put the programme together, but with such a great response from the dance movers and shakers across the country it has been possible. It’s great that so many want to promote their events in this way and be part of a much bigger picture. And with so many free activities, people who have never tried a dance workshop will be able to test it and, who knows, maybe even experience enough benefit in terms of wellbeing, to want to take up dance regularly.”

Louise Miles-Crust, Wales Millennium Centre’s Artistic Programme Manager and co-project manager of Big Dance Cymru, said: “Wales Millennium Centre is proud to be co-creating this celebration of dance. We can’t wait to see the streets of Wales come alive with such a variety of outdoor performances during Big Dance Week and on Big Street Dance Day. It’s great to see the people of Wales expressing themselves through dance and adding to our country’s rich cultural heritage.”

For a complete list of Big Dance Wales 2012 events, please visit www.bigdance2012.com