International Dance Day takes to the streets

THERE are many “international days” in Slovakia celebrating a wide variety of persons, places or events. One such is International Dance Day. This year, to draw a little more attention than usual to its chosen field, the Elledanse Dance and Theatre School decided to commemorate the day in a totally unusual way with an event they called “open-doors day.”

The entourage marching along the Danube. The entourage marching along the Danube. (Source: Slavo Uhrín)

THERE are many “international days” in Slovakia celebrating a wide variety of persons, places or events. One such is International Dance Day. This year, to draw a little more attention than usual to its chosen field, the Elledanse Dance and Theatre School decided to commemorate the day in a totally unusual way with an event they called “open-doors day.”

Elledanse is a school of contemporary dance. It presents dance workshops and festivals, for example Bratislava in Movement (Bratislava v pohybe). On April 29, it offered a three-pronged programme: two outdoor performances followed by a brief course in choreography at its studio in which the school invited the public to participate.

First, Elledanse invited the public into its studio on Miletičova Street to learn a few steps and participate in the dance programme. The programmes began on Štefánik Square outside the Eurovea complex, with music and dance featuring the La3no Cubano band. Following that show Elledanse led a merry throng of performers and members of the audience marching to the beat of drums along the Danube embankment to Hviezdoslavovo Square for another show. The choreography was simple and everybody was invited to join in. Unfortunately, few in the street audience had the courage to actually venture onto the stage with the dance troupe.

Another group, Abadá Capoeira Bratislava, performed a programme that combined martial arts with dance, drumming and unique singing.

“We had made a ‘dancing puzzle’ for the audience,” said Šárka Ondrišová, the head of Elledanse and coordinator of the event. “Although the public did not join in much, those who did were a colourful mixture, young and old, from complete novices to dance school students.”

In spite of the lack of audience participation Ondrišová said that she was happy with the result.
“The main idea was to give as many people as possible a taste of dance and to show them that dance does not necessarily require rigorous training.”

International Dance Day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), an NGO partnered with UNESCO, and is celebrated on April 29 each year. The date was chosen to commemorate the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, sometimes called the father of modern ballet. Every year, an outstanding choreographer or dancer is invited to deliver a message that is then circulated throughout the world.

Flemish Moroccan choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui had that honour this year.

“What endures through time is art,” Cherkaoui’s message said. “Art is everything humankind bequeaths to its heirs – whether through buildings or books or paintings or music or dance. In that sense, I think of dance as the most current, the most up-to-date history lesson, as it is in a constant relationship with its most recent past and can only happen in the present.”

Complete information about the day is at www.international-dance-day.org

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