Happy International Dance Day 2014. Dance is an overwhelmingly positive force in my life and today the art form will be celebrated all over the world (and shared with anyone and everyone!).
“Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing.”
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
The Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (a world organisation for the performing arts) founded International Dance Day in 1982. The Committee members decided that International Dance Day would be celebrated every year on the 29 April. This date is the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre (29 April 1727 – 19 October 1810), a French dancer and ballet master considered to be the creator of modern ballet.
Jean-Georges Noverre’s revolutionary treatise Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets (1760) saw him advocate many reforms to the art form. Notably, he stressed the importance of dramatic motivation (or ‘ballet d’action‘), with a focus on using just dance to tell a narrative and communicate emotions (no singing or speaking).
Expressive, empowering, enriching. Dance is a mind-driven physicality that represents both freedom and discipline. When I dance I am working towards an ideal and attempting to master a level of technique beyond perfection – yet I feel my most at ease.
Some of life’s most important lessons are learned in dance classes – from decorum and co-operation to perseverance and the ability to take and respond to constructive criticism. Everyone should learn to dance and appreciate the benefits for body, mind and soul.
The intention of International Dance Day is to revel in the universality of this art form and make people aware of its value. It offers those in the dance community the opportunity to promote their work on a broad scale, engage with leaders in the political sphere and share the joy of dancing with others.
Every year, a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is circulated throughout the world on International Dance Day to mark the occasion. Previous message authors have included Merce Cunningham (1990), Alicia Alonso (2000), William Forsythe (2001), Mats Ek (2003), Miyako Yoshida (2005) and Akram Khan (2009).
The International Dance Day message for 2014 comes from French choreographer and dancer Mourad Merzouki.
Born in Lyon in 1973, Mourad Merzouki began learning martial arts and circus arts at the age of seven. Aged 15, he encountered hip-hop culture for the first time and through it, he discovered dance. His work blends hip-hop with other disciplines and Merzouki established his own company, Käfig, in 1996.
The word ‘kafig’ refers to a cage in Arabic and German. For Merzouki ‘kafig’ equals liberation as his dancers aim to flatten any barriers between spectator and performer, drawing audiences into their performance. His fusion of styles reflects a belief that hip hop – and dance more generally – must continue to broaden its possibilities.
You can read his message for International Dance Day 2014 here.
“There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.”
“Dance for yourself. If someone understands, good. If not, no matter. Go right on doing what interests you and do it until it stops interesting you.”
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.