Health TED Prize

Latest City 2.0 award winner hopes to turn Mexico City into one big dance floor

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Dance-Floor

Mexico City is home to nearly 9 million people. The 8th largest city economy in the world, Mexico City is bursting with energy, vibrancy and color. But at the same time, it is also facing a health crisis. Diabetes has crept up to become the leading cause of preventable death in Mexico — with about 90 percent of cases stemming from obesity. Experts warn that if the prevalence of this disease continues to rise, it could overwhelm Mexico’s health system.

TED Senior Fellow Gabriella Gómez-Mont has a fascinating idea: could dancing be part of the solution?

Mexico City is known for dance — from couples well-versed in salsa and cumbia to the city’s dance halls where young people sweat under laser lights. Gómez-Mont wondered if this spirit could be harnessed to promote health. She asks, “What if we could turn a whole megalopolis into one gargantuan dance floor, and promote an active lifestyle while having fun and taping into the playful, social and happily competitive side of the city?”

In collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of experts — including Pablo Landa, Clora RomoConstanza Gómez-Mont & Taxidermie  — Gómez-Mont is launching a citywide dance competition. The vision? For the whole city to become a dance floor.

Gómez-Mont’s idea is to bridge virtual and physical space. While neighborhoods and communities will be encouraged to host in-person dancing events, their events can be submitted for awards with the help of a new website, as well as through Gómez-Mont’s independent culture lab Tóxico and Laboratorio para la Ciudad, a creative urban think-tank that she co-founded. People will vote on winners over social media, where they can also connect with other communities up on their feet and shaking it.

“I am intrigued by the idea that cities should not only house the human body, but also provoke the human imagination,” says Gómez-Mont. “This for me is the essence of City 2.0.”

In 2012, the TED Prize was bestowed upon an idea rather than an individual — The City 2.0, an online platform for the sharing of ideas to make cities function better. The $100,000 prize was broken into 10 grants of $10,000 each, to be given to a variety of projects spanning areas like transportation, education, housing, health and public space. Gabriella Gómez-Mont has been given the final grant.

To read all about the winners, head to the City 2.0 website.

Photo: Stefan Ruiz