Tag Archives: International Dance Council

Happy International Dance Day

NoverreByPerronneauLouvreIn 1982, trying to expand the visibility of dance worldwide and to find the appropriate way to integrate it fully in our society, the International Dance Council -founded within UNESCO- established the 29th of April as the International Dance Day. This celebration is open to all styles and fields as dancers are encouraged to organise activities around the world so dance will be performed in every corner of the globe, reaching audiences that otherwise could never enjoy it.

Each year, Dr. Alkis Raftis, President of the CID, writes a message which is distributed to more than 100,000 professionals in over 200 countries. The International Theatre Institute also requests another text to some prestigious dancer or choreographer; these two open-minded messages, together, offer a wide spectrum towards the internationalisation of dance. In 2015, the Spanish dancer and choreographer Israel Galván has raised his voice, and his message speaks off in the eclecticism of his dancing and his ideas. Why would we celebrate dance on April 29th? Because on this day, in 1727, Jean-Georges Noverre -the great revolutionary of dance- was born.

LettresNoverre1760During the 18th Century, dance was essential in the French court and aristocrats had to learn complicated steps; Ballet Masters, devoted themselves to their art, were trying to surprise and entertain the audience while remaining faithful to the rules of decorum and good taste of the Court. But during that period theater still carried certain encumbrances, partly inherited from the Greek Theatre: crinolines and corsets -in style those days- were hidding and blocking the movement of the dancers, and anachronistic costumes showed mythological characters on stage, dressed as contemporary courtiers.

Jean-Georges Noverre rose up to what he considered an absolute nonsense and opposite to the prevailing stage aesthetic. He demanded that the period and character of each dancer on stage should be respected, banning masks that could cover the faces of the performers; he wished dancers to have more freedom of movement… so the audience could see their evolutions on stage. Despite initial resistance and thanks to the support of Marie Antoinette, Noverre changed the course of dance forever. His Letters on Dancing and Ballets, published in 1760, is still considered as a reference book for both dancers or historians.

Happy Birthday, Master Noverre


Photographs: Portrait of Jean-Georges Noverre by Jean-Baptiste Perronneau, 1764. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Cover from the first edition of Lettres sur la danse et sur les ballets, 1760. William Forsythe’s Artifact, danced by Compañía Nacional de Danza © Jesús Vallinas for CND, 2012.