The importance of dance

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday, April 29, 2011

Dancers the world over will today celebrate this art form and revel in its universality, writes NAOMI FAIK-SIMET


IN 1982 the International Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI/UNESCO) founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on April 29.
The date commemorates the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, who was born in 1727 and was a great reformer of dance.
The intention of International Dance Day and the message is to bring dancers together on this day, to celebrate this art form and revel in its universality, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together in peace and friendship with a common language – dance.
In 1995, in an effort to unite dance, the International Dance Committee entered into a collaborative effort for the celebration of International Dance Day with World Dance Alliance (WDA) as their official partner.
WDA Europe, in collaboration with PAC Proietti Art Creations since 2007, are sponsors and creators of the International Dance Day message.
Each year a message from a well-known dance personality is circulated throughout the world.
This year’s message was written by Anne Teresa, Baroness De Keersmaeker, one of the most prominent choreographers in contemporary dance. Anne was born in 1960 in Mechelen, Belgium and grew up in Wemmel.
“I think dance celebrates what makes us human. When we dance we use, in a very natural way, the mechanics of our body and all our senses to express joy, sadness, the things we care about. People have always danced to celebrate the crucial moments of life and our bodies carry the memory of all the possible human experiences. We can dance alone and we can dance together. We can share what makes us the same, what makes us different from each other. For me dancing is a way of thinking. Through dance we can embody the most abstract ideas and thus reveal what we cannot see, what we cannot name.
“Dance is a link between people, connecting heaven and earth. We carry the world in our bodies. I think that ultimately each dance is part of a larger whole, a dance that has no beginning and no end, Anne Teresa said in her message”
Papua New Guinea has actively participated in commemorating International Dance Day for the last three years.
The first two celebrations were
held at the University of PNG in 2008 and 2009.
Last year, the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies (IPNGS) and the expressive arts department of the University of Goroka jointly organised the first national dance symposium which coincided with International Dance Day celebrations.
The IPNGS is currently in the process of finalising papers that were presented at the symposium. The publication will be launched later this year.
There is a need to value the study and practice of dance for its importance to social, artistic and cultural development.
The Government recognises dance as an important form of PNG’s intangible cultural heritage; therefore, it has ratified the United Nations Educational & Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
International Dance Day celebrations in PNG have advocated well for the subject in attracting educational interest where dance play a vital, pivotal role as a way of knowing and as knowledge in diverse cultural contexts.



* The writer is a dance researcher with the Institute of PNG Studies