Whether you do the cha-cha, the tango, the samba, or the Jitterbug, there’s one day to bring everyone together: International Dance Day.
International Dance Day is a UNESCO holiday celebrating the exciting and diverse world of dance.
There’s no end to the ways and styles to get involved. Everyone’s invited to boogie, sway, sashay, or plie however they please to join in on the fun.
Are you a dancer or have you always wanted to learn a type of dance? Here’s what you need to know about International Dance Day including when it is and how to celebrate it.
When Is International Dance Day?
International Dance Day is an annual celebration of the dance of all sorts held on April 29 each year.
Why April 29th? The date coincides with the birthday of the founder of modern ballet, Jean-Georges Noverre, making it the ideal choice.
In 1982, the International Theatre Institute’s Dance Committee created a day dedicated to all things dance to be celebrated annually. ITI’s intention for the day is the celebration of dance as a universal language that bridges cultural, political, and ethnic barriers.
The day aims to be a poignant “wake-up-call for governments, politicians, and institutions which have not yet recognized its value to the people and the individual [or] realized its potential for economic growth.”
Who Celebrates International Dance Day?
International Dance Day is for all dancers – wherever they live and whatever style of dance they enjoy. Each year, the ITI chooses one person from the dance world to create the annual message that is translated and spread around the globe.
The ITI partnered with UNESCO in the creation of the celebration. Each year, ITI organizes the main event that is typically held at the UNESCO offices in Paris, or in another building or event city. At the main event, the author usually offers a reading of their message. Beginning in 2009, the outstanding dancer chosen to create the annual message also began to give a live performance during the event.
In 2017, International Dance Day left behind the City of Light to travel further afield to Havana, Cuba. UNESCO also invited not one but five different Message Authors to contribute to the year’s events. Authors each came from different
Dance communities and companies around the world engage with the event and participate in UNESCO initiatives. Many also create activities for their dance or local communities that celebrate dance but not organized by the ITI.
The international day of celebration receives recognition from all United Nations member states.
How To Celebrate International Dance Day
Whether you practice classical ballet or improvisational street dance, International Dance day invites you to show off your moves any way you know how.
Put Together A Fundraiser
Dance, like most arts, could always benefit from more significant sources of funding. Put on a fundraising event for your local dance school or annual dance event or even to create a fund to help local dancers access professional training.
Some ideas for fundraising include:
If possible, keep your fundraising idea tied into the year’s International Dance Day message for maximum impact.
Hold Or Visit An Open-Door Day At A Dance School
Want to share the benefits of dancing with your community? Don’t just tell them – let them experience it for themselves.
Fling open the doors to your local dance school and invite everyone in to join in or witness a class. Offer free lessons—without selling packages—and encourage dancers of all types and levels to give performances.
Not only will you show off the talent in your local community, but you’ll show all your friends and neighbors how valuable dance is to so many people.
Organize A Flash Mob
Surprise, delight, and go viral by organizing a flash mob.
No idea how to get started?
Start by choosing an appropriate song. Sync it up with the International Dance Day message or select a song that’s sweeping the nation. Consult with a local choreographer to find one that offers eye-catching choreography that’s easy to coordinate for a group.
Once you’ve got a song and dance in mind, look for the best spot for the dance. A big open space with plenty of entry and exit points both for the dancers and for people milling around works best because it allows the free flow of traffic while other people watch.
Plenty of places to hide and dance in also makes the reveal more spectacular, particularly when you have a big group of dancers. Don’t feel tied to random venues. Some of the most viral flash mobs went down where people naturally gather like at parties or events.
Once the details fall into place, it’s time to master the choreography. It’s best to teach the dance in smaller groups. If there are various sections to the choreography, teach them according to their group so that no one ends up learning something they don’t need.
Looking for inspiration?
Check out this epic flash mob featuring current popular music that took place at Marble Arch in Central London.
Got a classic song in mind? The Grease flash mob put together in Central Station in Antwerp, Belgium is an excellent example of a medley that involves dozens – and eventually hundreds - of people.
Don’t forget: show tunes are always a show stopper. Team up with a local choir or theater to showcase song and dance. This Les Miserables flash mob is an example of how you can transform any space with the sound of music.
Before you go, remind yourself of the glory of The T-Mobile Welcome Back, which may not feature too much dance but continues to be the gold standard of flash mobs.
Attend A Dance Performance
Visit your local, state, or national dance company’s next performance. They may even host one just for International Dance Day!
Don’t limit yourself to top-tier or professional dance. Attend a local amateur dance school performance and to see up-and-coming talent and your local company’s next prima ballerina.
Create A Dance Festival
Put together an event that highlights and celebrates all the different types of dance that presently exist in your community. Festivals take a lot of time and many hands, but they fit entirely within the mission of showing everyone just how important – and valuable – dance is to local communities, national economies, and the world.
To get started, you’ll need to decide:
Once your event begins to take shape, put yourself in touch with partners and sponsors including members of the dance community. Keep this in mind when you choose your venue. A venue may also be a partner or sponsor.
When your details fall into place, get the word out. Invite friends, families, schools, organizations, and communities and generate buzz. Send out emails, put up posters, and use social media.
Attend A Dance Class (And Bring A Friend)
Get out and get down. Learn to dance the style you’ve always dreamed of wherever you are. If there’s no studio near you, consider checking out local dance societies or clubs or looking for an informal Meetup group featuring amateur dancers.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Get some friends together and use one of the thousands of instructional videos available on YouTube.
Did You Know: ITI Guidelines For Promoting Dance
Looking to get involved in a more official capacity? The ITI produces Guidelines for Promoting Dance in honor of International Dance Day.
To participate in a meaningful way, the ITI recommends looking at the official goals of the day:
How does the ITI recommend getting involved? Get involved with the institutions or individuals in your country who represent the ITI in your region. You’ll find your local member in the member directory.
If You Like International Dance Day, You Might Also Like…
If one day a year isn’t enough to celebrate, you might enjoy participating in one of the holidays dedicated to specific dances.
National Dance the Waltz Day happens every year on March 4th.
Raise your hands in the air on International Samba Day on December 2nd.
Classical and modern ballerinas alike have their day on February 7th.
Do the two-step and swing on World Lindy Hop Day on May 26th.
There’s a dance for everyone, even if you have two left feet. How will you celebrate International Dance Day?