Year Round Festival Series 13 – International Dance Day – Why shall we dance?

Dance is a language, a language that is older than words. Different dance postures and rhythms can express emotions of joy, sadness, doubt, or anger.

International Dance Day is a global celebration founded by the the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) of UNESCO and is held annually on April 29 in honor of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), the father of modern ballet. Each year, the Association selects a city to celebrate the International Day. This year, Shanghai was chosen as the focal city for the celebration, with a week-long celebration of Dance Day and a symposium. Each year, the Association invites a dancer or choreographer who has made an outstanding contribution to dance to write a message for International Dance Day, and the 2023 message author for International Dance Day is dancer Yang Liping from China. Yunnan-based dancer Yang Liping’s dance is inspired by her observations of nature.

How can the messages of dancers bring inspiration to our lives?

The dancers who wrote the messages for International Dance Day are all outstanding dance personalities in the industry. Their passion for dance as an exploration of life and the crystals of wisdom that they have honed over the years are not only inspiring for dancers, but also resonate with us in our own profession, such as how to face difficulties and challenges, and how to think about life. Past dancers who have written messages include the familiar Taiwanese dancer Lin Huai-min, who considers dance to be a tribute to life.

Korean dancer KANG Suejin’s message shows his care for the people in the epidemic and hopes to bring hope to the audience through dance:

“The lonely and weary audience is thirsty for the sympathy and comfort of the dancers. As dancers, we believe that the flapping of our wings gives hope to the hearts of those who love the art of dance and gives them the courage to overcome this pandemic.”

Among the other year’s message authors, Friedemann VOGEL from Germany emphasized the dancer’s amazing willpower rather than superior physical instincts; Egyptian dancer Karima MANSOUR’s message for 2019 spoke of the healing that dance can bring and the place where life meets.

The history of dance has been written by one unique dancer after another. Will this way of existence, which is based on the artist’s life, also come to an end with the death of the dancer?

Will the death of a dancer be forgotten?

This question reminds me of the great German modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch. She is considered a master of neo-expressionism, integrating classical ballet into a modern stage play with a tragic theme relating to relationships. German contemporary filmmaker Wim Wenders decided to make a documentary featuring her, but two days before shooting, Bausch died suddenly of cancer. Wenders had to cancel the shooting plan.

Director Wim Wenders was first attracted to the dance work “Café Muller” by Bausch. The realistic scenery and inspiring music are the hallmarks of Bausch’s dance theatre creations, making it unforgettable. But how can the three-dimensional effect of the stage be filmed in a flat film? Will anyone really enjoy watching a film documenting dance? Will anyone want to watch a documentary that loses the charisma of Pina Bausch?

But with the support of various parties and the dancers, the director finally launched a commemorative film with a collage of four of Bausch’s famous choreographies, filmed in 3D, making the audience feel like they are watching a stage play up close! The dream-like cinematography is also a visual feast.

Bausch’s work brings our real world and the far-flung world of classical ballet into harmony with each other. On a carnation-strewn stage, female dancers in glamorous modern dresses. They danced among the men in dark suits. The male and female dancers were sometimes lingering with each other, sometimes fiercely confronting each other. The dancers show the richness of their emotions through ballet performances to tell the story of modern love. The film received critical acclaim and became the first 3D art film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary. To this day, this groundbreaking film and Bausch’s dance work, which explores human nature and relationships, continue to have a profound impact on contemporary dance and other art forms. 

#YearRoundFestivalSeries #InternationalDanceDay #PinaBausch #WimWenders


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Elva Lai is a passionate and determined artist. She loves reading, learning, travelling, hiking and drinking coffee in the morning. Elva received her education in Hong Kong, USA and Germany.

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