Dame Helen, 68, at first tried to sign the word "twerk", then let slip a swear word and danced. She said she had tried to twerk privately in her bedroom and having to do it in public was humiliating.
She also joked that being made a Dame of the British Empire by the Prince of Wales did not come anywhere close to getting the ceremonial Hasting Pudding pot at Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The festivities also included a parade.
Dame Helen won the 2007 best actress Oscar for The Queen and has been nominated on three other occasions. She also appeared in Age Of Consent, Gosford Park and The Madness Of King George.
She said she would still like to play the powerful 18th-century Russian monarch Catherine The Great and was rooting for 12 Years A Slave at this year's Oscars.
Hasty Pudding Theatricals is America's oldest undergraduate drama troupe which annually honours performers who have made a lasting and impressive contribution to entertainment.
Emmy Award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will be celebrated as man of the year on February 7.
Last year's winners were Marion Cotillard and Kiefer Sutherland.