International Dance Day 2021 is here!
Thursday, April 29 is a day of global inspiration and creativity. It is a day of love, and it is a day to move. Why? Because it’s International Dance Day! Produced by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute, this annual celebration first launched in 1982. It is the sister celebration to World Theatre Day, which takes place annually on March 27.
Each year, International Dance Day is celebrated on April 29--the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), creator of modern ballet. To mark the day, a globally prominent dance practitioner is asked to pen the World Dance Day Address. This year’s author is Friedemann Vogel, a Principal Dancer with the Stuttgart Ballet. Other recent authors have included Gregory Vuyani Maqoma of South Africa; Karima Mansour of Egypt, Salā Lemi Ponifasio of New Zealand; and U.S. choreographer Trisha Brown. To mark the day, ITI Worldwide will offer an online celebration 8:00 am to noon Eastern time (GMT-4), with a welcome from ITI Director General Tobias Bianccone, remarks from International Dance Committee Chair Alberto GARCÍA CASTAÑO, as well as the reading of the World Dance Day address. Immediately following the opening segment, 17 ITI Centers will offer video excerpts of dance from their countries. Additionally, a series of 7 Special Projects will be presented. All are invited to watch the celebration and to find ways to celebrate. Here are some suggestions on how to participate!
For the US Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI-US) presentation, two dance companies are featured: Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) and Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM). Based in Dallas, Texas, DBDT exists to create and produce contemporary modern dance at its highest level of artistic excellence. Dallas Black Dance Theatre fulfills its mission through performance and educational programs that bridge cultures, reach diverse communities, and encompass ever-expanding national audiences. Founded in 1976 by Ann M. Williams and currently led by Melissa M. Young, Dallas Black Dance Theatre is now the oldest and largest professional dance company in Dallas, the fourth largest African American dance company, and the tenth largest arts organization of color in the United States. The professional ensemble consists of 12 multi-ethnic, full-time dancers performing a mixed repertory of modern, jazz, ethnic, and spiritual works by nationally and internationally known choreographers.
From DBDT, we are pleased to include an excerpt from ODETTA. Set to the musical genius of Odetta Holmes, one of the most influential singers of the 20th Century, the work pays tribute to Odetta’s musical range of folk, gospel, and blues music. Matthew Rushing, associate artistic director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater choreographed ODETTA. It had its world premiere in 2014 with the Ailey company, and its DBDT premiere in 2019. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DBDT distinguished itself through its inventive and high-quality online programming. Appropriately, this Reimagined 2021 duet set to the Odetta Holmes song “Cool Water” was filmed outdoors on a pier by Dallas’ White Rock Lake. It is performed by DBDT Company Members Sierra Noelle Jones and Zion Pradier.
Described by the London Times as “The Basquiat of the U.S. Dance Scene who has literally embodied the history of hip-hop dance” Rennie Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement in 1992 as a way to bring street dance to the concert stage. RHPM is dedicated to preserving and disseminating Hip-hop aesthetics and Street dance culture through workshops, classes, history, lecture demonstrations, long-term residencies, mentoring programs, and public performances. RHPM seeks to re-educate the masses about Hip hop culture and Street Dance through its artistic work. Rennie Harris’s work embodies the diverse and rich African-Diasporic traditions of the past, simultaneously evolving a new voice through dance. Harris is committed to showing audiences a sincere view of the essence and spirit of Street dance rather than the commercially exploited stereotype portrayed by the media.
From Rennie Harris Puremovement, there are two excerpts for International Dance Day: A Day in A Life is a duet that tells the story of brothers who get caught up in a violent street altercation with the police. Painfully resonant today, the piece was choreographed by Rennie Harris and originally set by Floyd Sullivan. It features dancers Phil Cuttino, Jr. and Kai Rapaley. Music is Sacred the Wine by Dhafer Youssef.
Additionally, a short excerpt of Rennie Harris Funkedified will be shown. Directed by Harris, the excerpt features improvised choreography from The Hood Lockers (Ricky Evans, Andrew Ramsey, Joshua Polk and Marcus Tucker), with a drum solo by Doron Levy.
International Theatre Institute (ITI) was formed in 1948, when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) joined with theatre makers to form an international non-governmental organization in the field of the performing arts. The mission of ITI is to “promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts in order to consolidate peace and friendship between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and to increase creative cooperation between all people in the theatre arts.” Today, ITI consists of approximately 90 Centers worldwide. An ITI Center is made up of professionals active in the theatre life of a country and representative of all branches of the performing arts. For more information, visit www.iti-worldwide.org. ITI is the home of the International Dance Committee which plans International Dance Day.
ITI-US is jointly led by The Global Theater Initiative (GTI), a collaboration between Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (the Lab), based in Washington, DC at Georgetown University.