International Dance Day - 29th April

2014

Message by Mourad Merzouki

Every artist takes pride in his art.

Every artist will always defend the art form whose encounter has changed his life.
For that which he has sought and lost and for that which he has the burning desire to share: be it the echo of a voice, the discovered word, the interpretation of a text for humanity, the music without which the universe will stop speaking to us, or the movement which opens the doors to grace.

I have, for dance, not only the pride of a dancer and choreographer, but profound gratitude. Dance gave me my lucky break. It has become my ethics by virtue of its discipline and provided the means through which I discover the world daily.

Closer to me than anything else, it gives me strength each day through the energy and generosity as only dance can. Its poetry comforts me.

Could I say that I wouldn’t exist without dance? Without the capacity for expression it has given me? Without the confidence I have found in it to overcome my fears, to avoid dead ends?

© Michel Cavalca

Thanks to dance, immersed in the beauty and complexity of the world, I have become a citizen. A peculiar citizen who reinvents the social codes in the course of his encounters, remaining true to the values of the hip-hop culture which transforms negative energy into a positive force.

Dance is a daily source of pride. But I am living with this pride deeply concerned. I witness around me the loss of bearings and the inability of some of the youth from the working class, growing up in tension and frustration, to imagine their future. I am one of them; so are we all. I am driven, perhaps more than others, by setting an example, to help them fuel their lust for life.

For isn’t society richer with the richness of each of us?

Culture, more than any discourse, unites. So have courage and take risks despite the obstacles and the hatred with which you will no doubt be confronted; the beauty of the world will always be by your side. Like dance has been for me. With its singular force to eliminate social and ethnic distinctions, leaving but the movement of bodies in their essence, of human beings returning to their pure expression, unique and shared.

I would like to end by quoting René Char whose words remind me daily to not let anyone confine us to scripted roles.

“Push your luck, hold on tight to your good fortune, and take your risk. Watching you, they will get used to it.”

So try, fail, start all over again but above all, dance, never stop dancing!

Translation: Petya Hristova and Charlene Lim

Biography

Born in Lyon in 1973, Mourad Merzouki began practicing  martial arts and circus arts at the age of seven. When he was fifteen, he encountered hip-hop culture for the first time and through it, he discovered dance.

He quickly decided to develop this form of street art while also experimenting with other choreographic styles, particularly with other dance artists Maryse Delente, Jean-François Duroure and Josef Nadj.

The wealth of his experiences fed his desire to direct artistic projects, blending hip hop with other disciplines. It is what he did in 1989 with Kader Attou, Eric Mezino and Chaouki Saïd when he created his first company ‘Accrorap’.

In 1994 the company performed Athina during Lyon’s Biennial Dance Festival; it was a triumph that brought street dance to the stage.

Merzouki’s travels have led him into unchartered territory, where dance can be a powerful means of communication. In order to develop his own artistic style and sensitivity, Merzouki established his own company, Käfig, in 1996.

In January 2006, the Company Käfig began residing in Espace Albert Camus in Bron. This linked theatre with the festival Karavel, created in 2007 by Mourad Merzouki, programming notably around 10 hip hop companies and other events in the city.

In parallel, he imagined and conceived a new place of choreographic creation and development, which led to Pôle Pik opening its doors in Bron in 2009.

In June 2009, Mourad Merzouki was appointed director of the Centre chorégraphique de Créteil et du Val de Marne. He continues to develop his projects there, with an accent on openness to the world. In 18 years, the choreographer has created 22 productions, and his company gives on average 150 performances per year around the world.

2013

Message from Lin Hwai-min, Founder/Artistic Director, Cloud Gate Dance Theater of Taiwan

 

 

It is said in the Great Preface of "The Book of Songs,"

an anthology of Chinese poems dating from the 10th to the 7th century BC:
"The emotions are stirred and take form in words.
If words are not enough, we speak in sighs.
If sighs are not enough, we sing them.
If singing is not enough, then unconsciously
our hands dance them and our feet tap them."

Dance is a powerful expression.

It speaks to earth and heaven.

It speaks of our joy, our fear and our wishes.

 

 

©LIU Chen-hsiang

Dance speaks of the intangible, yet reveals the state of mind of a person and the temperaments and characters of a people. Like many cultures in the world, the indigenous people in Taiwan dance in circle. Their ancestors believed that evils would be kept out of the circle. With hands linked, they share the warmth of each other and move in communal pulses. Dance brings people together. And dance happens at the vanishing point. Movements disappear as they occur. Dance exists only in that fleeting instant. It is precious. It is a metaphor of life itself. In this digital age, images of movements take millions of forms. They are fascinating. But, they can never replace dance because images do not breathe. Dance is a celebration of life. Come, turn off your television, switch off your computer, and come to dance. Express yourself through that divine and dignified instrument, which is our body. Come to dance and join people in the waves of pulses.

Seize that precious and fleeting moment.Come to celebrate life with dance.

A Sage and an Enlightener Lin Hwai-min

Taiwanese choreographer Lin Hwai-min, author of the 2013 International Dance Day Message, belongs to the hall of fame of the greats.  His name stands alongside those of William Forsythe, George Balanchine, Brigit Cullberg.   In July 2013, Lin will follow such great artists as Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, Pina Bausch, Paul Taylor, William Forsythe, Trisha Brown, Ohad Naharin, and Bill T. Johnson and become the recipient of the Life Achievement Award presented by the American Dance Festival (ADF). The Festival's official announcement said the following: "The talent of this choreographer expands the boundaries and transforms art forms. Lin is one of today's more dynamic and innovative choreographers."  As always, the best innovations are born of a deep understanding of traditions and an interest in the outside world.

It is interesting to note that Lin began his career as a writer.  In 1969, at the age of 22, already a published author of two successful books, he left to study in the US and became a Master of Arts at the writers' seminar at the University of Iowa.    The basis of the Chinese language is not a letter that carries no information in and of itself, but, rather, a hieroglyphic, a self-contained image.  That is why the clear narrative of the images in the dance text exponentially increases the number of admirers of Lin's choreographic signature.  Those include spectators who grasp the literary element of his productions, connoisseurs of abstract choreography intensified by effective, striking, minimalistic set designs, as well as connoisseurs of the Asian code of motion, which is based primarily on Oriental breathing techniques that focus and relax the body in a fundamentally different way.  The Cloud Gate dancers learn meditation, ancient Qigong breathing exercises, martial arts, contemporary dance, and calligraphy.

The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, founded by Hwai-min in 1973, has added a young company, created in 1999.  A choreographer manages both companies that enroll dancers, who have graduated from the dance department created by Lin in 1983 at the Taipei National University of the Arts.  The structure resembles the operation of the Netherlands Dance Theatre, where they have NDT-I, NDT-II, NDT-III, and where dancers of different ages, different levels of professional expertise and different views on dance manage to study and work together.

You have to admit, 86 productions sounds quite dramatic.  The Life Achievement Award more than makes sense under the circumstances.  In 2005, "Time" magazine called him one of "Asia's Heroes".   It is not surprising, for, whenever Cloud Gate performs in Taiwanese cities, it attracts over 60 thousand spectators for their productions.  That rivals the scale of the Beatles and Michael Jackson.

Lin Hwai-min is the central figure of a number of documentaries, such as "Portraits of Taiwan" by the Discovery Channel, "Floating on the Ground" (Opus Arte), and "Lin Hwai-min – Interface Between Worlds" (ARTE/ZDF). Starting in 2000, Lin became artistic director of the "Novel Dance Series" contemporary dance programmes at Novel Hall in Taipei.  These programmes feature world-famous Japanese performers Eiko and Koma, Vietnamese performer Ea Sola, singer Meredith Monk, choreographers and dancers Susanne Linke, Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Jérôme Bel.

The most amazing thing is that every dancer has an opportunity to be near them and to learn.  At the present time, Lin Hwai-min participates in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative  as a dance mentor to young choreographers that get chosen by an international expert committee.  And this summer the Russian audiences will once again have the opportunity to see a Cloud Gate production – the Chekhov Theatre Festival is bringing "Nine Songs" to Moscow.

Ekaterina Vasenina

In 1982 the Dance Committee of the ITI foundedInternational Dance Dayto be celebrated every year on the 29th April, anniversary of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727-1810), the creator of modern ballet. The intention of the «International Dance Day Message» is to celebrate Dance, to revel in the universality of this art form, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together with a common language - Dance.

Every year a message from an outstanding choreographer or dancer is circulated throughout the world. The personality is selected by the founding entity of the International Dance Day - the International Dance Committee of the ITI, which collaborates with World Dance Alliance, a Cooperating Member of the ITI.

Together with the World Dance Alliance, ITI and its Dance Committee celebrate International Dance Day at UNESCO in Paris.

  • International Dance Day Message Authors: 1982 - 2011
  • 1982 Henrik NEUBAUER
  • 1983 No message issued
  • 1984 Yuri GRIGOROVITCH
  • 1985 Robert JOFFREY
  • 1986 Chetna JALAN
  • 1987 Dance Committee Board
  • 1988 Robin HOWARD
  • 1989 Doris LAINE
  • 1990 Merce CUNNINGHAM
  • 1991 Hans VAN MANEN
  • 1992 Germaine ACOGNY
  • 1993 Maguy MARIN
  • 1994 Dai AILIAN
  • 1995 Murray LOUIS
  • 1996 Maïa PLISSETSKAÏA
  • 1997 Maurice BEJART
  • 1998 Kazuo OHNO
  • 1999 Mahmoud REDA
  • 2000 Alicia ALONSO, Jirí KYLIÁN, Cyrielle LESUEUR
  • 2001 William FORSYTHE
  • 2002 Katherine DUNHAM
  • 2003 Mats EK
  • 2004 Stephen PAGE
  • 2005 Miyako YOSHIDA
  • 2006 His Majesty King Norodom SIHAMONI of Cambodia
  • 2007 Sasha WALTZ
  • 2008 Gladys AGULHAS
  • 2009 Akram KHAN
  • 2010 Julio BOCCA
  • 2011 Anne Teresa DE KEERSMAEKER
  • 2012 Sidi Larbi CHERKAOUI
www.international-dance-day.org

 

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