It’s International Dance Day today — a day to celebrate the one of most beautiful forms of communication.
The world has been celebrating International Dance Day since 1982, when the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the main partner for the performing arts of UNESCO, founded the day dedicating it to the universality of this art form. It was decided that International Dance Day would be celebrated every year on 29 April, the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), the creator of modern ballet.
To mark the day, the International Dance Committee and the ITI select an outstanding dance personality to write a message for International Dance Day every year. ITI says the day is a celebration for “those who can see the value and importance of” the dance. It says the day also acts as a “wake-up call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognised its value to the people and to the individual and have not yet realised its potential for economic growth”.
The idea behind sharing an International Dance Day Message is to celebrate dance, crossing all barriers of politics, culture and ethnicity, and bring people using the common language of dance.
Every year, the International Dance Committee of ITI and the Executive Council of ITI, select one (or more) outstanding choreographer or dancer to write a message. The message is then translated into several languages and circulated throughout the world.
This year, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of ITI, the Executive Council and the International Dance Committee of ITI have selected five authors to write messages — one from each of the five UNESCO regions of Africa, the Americas, Arab Countries, Asia Pacific and Europe.
In his International Dance Day Message 2018, dancer and choreographer Salia Sanou from Burkina Faso (Africa) has said, “Yes, I express it loudly, dance can invent and reinvent itself, here, now, and elsewhere! Yes, the movement sometimes has its flashes, its harmonies in unusual places as in a refugee camp, a whole story that can, gestures against gestures, body against body, spectres against specters start to dance. Dance to deceive loneliness, waiting, pain, dance to give light to a look, dance to ward off fear, dance and dance again.”
Georgette Gebara of Lebanon (Unesco Arab Countries region), dancer, choreographer, dance educator and founder of “École Libanaise de Ballet”, says “Indeed, whether we sit on the floor, hang on to a barre, fly in the air, stamp our boots on some mountain peak, whether we wave our hips lasciviously under a tent or in a nightclub, our language binds us together! For dance is not only an expression of feelings, a celebration, or just entertainment. DANCE IS A STATEMENT. A statement that says more eloquently than any spoken language, that we are ONE.”
In his message, Willy Tsao from Hong Kong (Asia Pacific), the Founder and Artistic Director of City Contemporary Dance Company and BeijingDance, wonders if “art may somehow become an antidote to prevent or counteract some of the disorders that are threatening world peace and harmony”.
“Dancing is about being in the moment. It’s about listening to the scope of sensations and allowing that listening to become the fuel of all feelings, forms, and content,” says with Ohad Naharin of Israel (Europe region), Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company and creator of the GAGA movement language.
And he has a sweet piece of advice for all. “We must always remember to dance a little every day…and never in front of a mirror.”
In her message, Choreographer, dancer and teacher Marianela Boán from Cuba says: “When you listen to your body through dance, you also hear the bodies and dances of seduction and celebration which belong to your ancestors and your species. In your body you carry the dances that will save you.”
“Dancing is the great antidote to the madness of mankind,” she says.