The cultural value and importance of dance is too frequently overlooked in today's society. All over the world, dance is utilized as a means of bringing communities together, in addition to providing a platform as an art form through which identity can be expressed, history can be told and the politics of today can be questioned.
UNESCO tends to reserve a day each year for everything within the performing arts category, so the prospect that there's an annual International Dance Day doesn't really surprise us. The day has been asserted as an occasion for anyone that attaches "value and importance" to dance, and “acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognised its value”.
Intense, perhaps, but there are actually many places that frown upon or ban dancing. In the US, strict Southern Baptists do not dance. Famously, this resulted in the labour of love by Ren McCormack, the teenager from Chicago who changed the ingrained mentalities of his community with the 1984 Footloose documentary.
In the light that tomorrow is World Theatre Day and that, on Sunday, it's International Dance Day (29th), we want to let you know exactly what the World Organization for the Performing Arts has to say in it's guidelines about how these awareness days should be celebrated, in addition to giving you a few fun suggestions of our own.
1. Promoting the day with a special event
Charity performances, Gala's, Conferences, etc. The kind of events that are organized around the world in paying homage to World Theatre Day and International Dance Day can show both minute and significant variation. Here are a few of the best and well-known examples of events you can co-ordinate yourself or jot into your schedule for this weekend, if there's any in your local area:
- Open doors for Theatre or Dance Schools
- A flash mob on the appropriate day
- Fundraising for a Special Project with a gala, dinner, ball, etc.
- Special Theatre or Dance Award Ceremonies
- Charity Performances for organizations, people or specific issues that have associations with dance or theatre
- Free tickets in World Theatre Day or International Dance Day to certain shows
- Symposia, round tables, colloquia, special performances and conferences
- Actors/actresses and choreographers/dancers meetings
- Street Dance Festivals or Street Theatre Festivals
- Demonstration/procession for dance or theatre
2. Experience a new culture.
Allow the different music and forms of dance, whether it's musical theatre, Bollywood or African, to transport you to a different culture.
3. Be open-minded.
Dance companies could be holding multiple workshops, classes and talks to acknowledge the occasion. So what are you waiting for? Browse online to see what's on in your local area.
4. Congratulate the winners of the Youth American Grand Prix.
Did you know that International Dance Day coincidentally falls on the last day of the elite YAGP ballet competition? Budding young dancers from 30 different countries competed this week in New York, and the winners will be announced on Sunday evening.
5. Dance to give back.
Your community can be impacted by dance wherever you're situated in the world. You can organize a group dance to fundraise for a cause, draw attention to an injustice in the dance world, or organise an informal class to teach a dance form to friends and acquaintances that are interested in getting involved.