Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Team Ballet Papier is dedicated to dance every day of the year – but today is extra special as it is International Dance Day, a day devoted to celebrating the power and pleasure of dancing.
Dancing has so many benefits that we could probably spend the whole day just listing them. After all, dancing is a holistic activity that has the potential to enrich the physical, social and creative health, and personal wellbeing, of individuals of all ages.
Dancing can help us to stay fit and healthy because it builds strength and endurance and increases aerobic fitness. It also improves coordination, agility and flexibility and can lead to better balance and spatial awareness – which can be particularly advantageous as people age.
Beyond the physical benefits, dancing will significantly improve mood – it heightens happiness, soothes sadness, alleviates stress – thereby enhancing our general and psychological wellbeing. Participating in dance activities can help individuals to develop better social skills and cultivate greater self-confidence and self-esteem. Furthermore, dancing nurtures creativity and fosters an appreciation of music, art, movement and performance.
Astonishingly, many governments, politicians and institutions across the world still do not seem to have properly recognised the cultural and educational value of dance participation and appreciation. Funding is repeatedly cut, and Dance is forced to fight for its place as a legitimate academic subject within education systems.
That is why today, April 29th, is such an important day. The annually observed International Dance Day (or World Dance Day) is a day designated for the global celebration of dance. The day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organisation) International Theatre Institute and is promoted by the International Dance Council (CID). The date coincides with the birthday of French dancer, ballet master and dance reformer, Jean-Georges Noverre, who was born on April 29th 1727.
Every year, an influential member of the global dance community is asked to write an International Dance Day Message. This year, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the International Theatre Institute and recognise Dance as cross-cultural and international, there are five message authors - one from each of the UNESCO regions.
Africa: Salia Sanou, Burkina Faso
Arab countries: Georgette Gebara, Lebanon
Asia Pacific: Willy Tsao, Hong Kong, China
Europe: Ohad Naharin, Israel
The Americas: Marianela Boan, Cuba
The International Dance Council promotes International Dance Day to urge people who may not normally engage with dance to endeavour to do so, as well as to persuade governments all over the world to provide a proper place for dance in all systems of education.
For those who already dance, today is the perfect day to reflect upon what dancing gives us.
Admittedly, dance training can be infuriating and intimidating because nothing is ever enough. Theatrical and commercial dance styles, including ballet, demand that we strive for a level of perfection that is essentially unattainable. We want to jump higher, be more flexible, balance for longer, feel stronger.
Perseverance and passion are essential for success in dance – and in life as well. However, all dancers must come to understand that no matter how much importance we place on a flawless performance, it is the trying that really counts because there will always be something else that can be improved upon.
Indeed, Dance reminds us that it is crucial to strive for progress rather than perfection in everything we do, both in and out of the studio.
Team Ballet Papier would be lost without Dance – it is our inspiration and our motivation.
In celebration of a day all about our favourite activity, we leave you with a quote from Ohad Naharin, Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company and the International Dance Day 2018 Message writer for Europe:
“… we must always remember to dance a little every day.”
By Georgina Butler.
Georgina Butler is a journalist, dance writer and dance teacher based in the UK. She is a First Class Honours graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance and a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Visit https://georginabutler.co.uk/ to read more of her work and follow her on Twitter @GeorginaLButler and Instagram: @glbdancewriter.
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