I dance. Therefore, I am.
Dancers all over the world are celebrating International Dance Day 2015 today.
Dance has always been an essential part of my life and I am a dedicated advocate. Dancing offers so many physical, psychological, emotional and social benefits. Everyone should seize the chance to dance!
Dancing promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, helps to build confidence, teaches the value of hard work and perseverance, encourages creativity and expression, relieves stress, brings people together and fosters artistic appreciation. And, above all else, dancing is really good fun!
International Dance Day was founded in 1982 by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute, a world organisation for the performing arts. It was decided that the celebration would be held every year on the 29 April. This date is the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), a French dancer and ballet master who is considered to be the creator of modern ballet.
In a revolutionary treatise entitled Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets (1760), Jean-Georges Noverre stressed the importance of dramatic motivation (‘ballet d’action‘). This emphasised the beauty of simply using dance to tell a narrative and communicate emotions, negating the previously followed convention that there was a need to supplement movement with singing or speaking.
The aim of International Dance Day is to spread the joy of dancing far and wide. Every year, a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is circulated throughout the world 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 2015 comes from the Spanish choreographer and dancer Israel Galván. You can read it here.
Dance represents a form of expression that anyone can understand. Very often, the world is too loud. We forget how much we can communicate without speaking.
As a writer, I am utterly enamoured by the power of words. Despite this, there is nothing quite like being under the spell of the music and experiencing an expressive piece of dance. I am a thinker and a writer – sometimes talking is not for me. So, as a dancer, I can channel all of my thoughts into those fleeting movements that blend together to create poetry in motion.
Dance has afforded me opportunities to learn and master new things; helped me develop a positive mindset for living life to the full; revealed my niche as a writer and connected me to some wonderfully creative people.
Like most things, you definitely get out of a dance class what you put into it and practice is essential to see improvement. In today’s society of instant gratification, dance is an enjoyable way of instilling an attitude of commitment in young children.
Not everyone will take to the stage as a professional but I believe dance should play a much bigger role in education and our culture generally. This is why I am a member of Dance UK, support local theatres and schools through my teaching and journalistic pursuits, and write about dance with so much zeal on this website.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.