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Shirley Ballas and Strictly stars support Southbank Centre’s first virtual social dance to combat loneliness this winter

Shirley Ballas and Strictly stars support Southbank Centre’s first virtual social dance to combat loneliness this winter

On Friday 18 December, the Southbank Centre will, for the first time ever, stream an evening of dance and jazz live from the iconic Royal Festival Hall to help combat loneliness this winter.

Announced today, some of the BBC Strictly Come Dancing judges and professional dancers will make special cameo appearances with messages of support during the event.

The free, ‘Winter Tea Dance’ invites the country’s dance-lovers to take part in a communal experience from the comfort of their own homes. Hosted by one of the venue’s most popular ballroom DJs and London’s leading dance promoter, Mr Wonderful alongside former Senior British Ballroom Champion Janet Cunningham-Clayton, audiences will be taken through an evening of Foxtrot, Waltz and Tango, alongside festive jazz numbers performed by awarding-winning ensemble and talent development organisation, Tomorrow’s Warriors.

Through the Southbank Centre’s partnership with the National Activity Providers’ Association, the event will reach over 3,000 partner care homes across the UK and thousands of socially-isolated people nationwide. Other key partners include Kings’ College Hospital.

The event follows the Southbank Centre’s long-standing tradition of hosting social dances in the Royal Festival Hall Clore Ballroom. The venue will be welcoming back its regular attendees, alongside many of the 4,500 participants from its hugely successful Art by Post scheme – the national arts and wellbeing project created in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Art by Post participants have exclusive access to our Front Row tickets, engaging in the event through Zoom, with the option to interact with Mr Wonderful and show off their dancing from their living room.

The Southbank Centre is home to the National Academy of Social Prescribing. The arts organisations’ social dances are a staple of our extensive Creative Learning and Arts & Wellbeing programme. As the format goes online for the first time, the Southbank Centre will demonstrate its commitment to finding innovative ways of increasing access to enriching social encounters for those in social care and community settings.

Alison Teader, Programme Director, National Activity Providers’ Association (NAPA) Arts in Care Homes, said: “NAPA is delighted to be partnering with the Southbank Centre for the Winter Tea Dance. Our care home members and relatives will love having the chance to try out some new dance moves and maybe requesting a tune from Mr Wonderful! It has undoubtedly been a very difficult year for residents and staff and it is lovely for care homes to have this festive event to prepare for and look forward to. The arts are so important and having the chance to sing and dance in the company of the Strictly stars is an amazing gift. We are excited to be working with the Southbank Centre on more creative initiatives for care settings in 2021.” 

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Strictly Come Dancing’s Head Judge, Shirley Ballas, said: The Southbank Centre’s virtual winter tea dance is a brilliant way to get dancing at a time when we are unable to physically access our local arts centres and dance classes. It’s so important to keep active and keep our spirits up and I hope people of all ages across the UK join in from their living rooms and kitchens, as well as everyone in care homes across the country. I am thrilled to be making a guest appearance!

Alexandra Brierley, Director of Creative Learning at the Southbank Centre, said: We are thrilled to be bringing back our much-loved social dance programme this winter. It’s one of the most joyous initiatives we run here at the Southbank Centre and it’s been such a shame that we’ve had to go without them during our closure. While we might not be able to meet together in person this time, we hope that we can bring the joy of dance and music to so many people through our partnerships with care providers nationwide.”

Free Winter Tea Dance Broadcast Online
Friday 18 December, 7 – 8.30pm
Suitable for all ages, and all levels of dance experience. Beginners are welcome.
Join us live on YouTube via