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Free to Dance at Glastonbury

Posted on June 23, 2011



benstpaulsHaving danced his way through the London Marathon, teacher Ben Hammond is taking on the sun, rain and inevitable mud of the Glastonbury Festival, to raise awareness about oppression in Burma.

In October, Ben Hammond will attempt to break the world record for longest ever uninterrupted dance, currently 125 hours over five days. As part of his preparations, he will dance through the whole of the Glastonbury Festival, inviting everyone going to the festival to dance with him.

Ben said: “I’m really excited about getting the chance to dance through the Glastonbury Festival. It’s the world’s greatest music festival bar none (and with music comes dancing), the atmosphere is just so special… so I can’t wait to dance free with everyone there in the build-up to my world record. I’m getting seriously nervous as it approaches… but if all goes to plan it will help me get in shape, test me to the limit, spread the word about the world record, and help raise awareness about the situation in Burma.”

Five years ago, Ben spent a year teaching in a refugee camp on the Burmese border. Shocked by the country’s plight, he set up LearnBurma, a registered educational charity. In his Free to Dance campaign, he asks everyone – whether or not they can dance – to join him in using their freedom to support those in Burma with none. Free to Dance aims to raise over £150,000 for LearnBurma.

Ben has been to Glastonbury before, and knows what huge, enthusiastic crowds it draws, so he has set himself the target of dancing with 14,000 – ten per cent of the entire festival population – during three days. He admits he’s nervous: “So far, my maximum dance has been 36 hours, so I’m attempting to double that at Glastonbury. Add in the famous mud, the unforgiving weather and the toilet queues, and just quite how I”ll get to the end on Sunday, I don’t know.” In April, Ben was the first ever person to dance the London Marathon, completing the course in nine hours.

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Picture: Ben Hammond, with freemob, on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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