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For fleet footed, dance on, heal the world

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performing Rennie Harris’s “Lazarus,” which will be available for viewing for a week beginning on April 16.Credit…Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

It was the late music legend, Michael Jackson, who said, “consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.”

The great dance exponent, Martha Graham, also said, “nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.”

To be a great dancer, you must, as Friedrich Nietzsche puts it, “hear the music.”

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And for those who hear this music, April 29 was their day. It is celebrated every year with an aim to promote dance and make people aware of its value.

To celebrate the fleet-footed, the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), in 1982, had created International Dance Day (IDD).

IDD, also known as World Dance Day, is also observed to encourage participation and coaching in dance by means of events and festivals held all through the world.

ITI creates and organises many actions to promote the form of artwork and educate, many variations about it. ITI also arranges a flagship event, within the chosen host metropolis, at which there are dance performances, tutorial workshops, humanitarian initiatives and speeches made by dignitaries and dance personalities.

The date was chosen to commemorate the French dancer, Jean-Georges Noverre and keep in mind his contribution to the world of dancing. He was a ballet grasp of the 19th century. Between 1758 and 1760, he produced quite a lot of ballets at Lyon, a metropolis in France. Noverre is taken into consideration because of the creator of modern ballet.

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With the coronavirus outbreak that has contaminated a whole lot of people in the globe and many nations in lockdown, health professionals have counseled everybody to remain safe at home and practise social distancing, when outside, in a hope to flatten the curve.

“This day is a celebration day for those who can see the value and importance of the art form ‘dance’, and acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions, which have not yet recognised its value to the people and to the individual and have not yet realised its potential for economic growth,” the official website of IDD stated.

Many have said one benefit to this era of social distancing is that while theatres may be shuttered, the work seen on their stages has become more widely available than ever before.

However, dance as a medium of expression is best experienced in person. You have to show up at a certain place and time to feel its impact.

Arts organisations have rushed to set up virtual programming, existing online services have lifted their paywalls and free platforms have expanded their offerings.

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This year, known dancers and creators all through the world organised digital participation online to elevate the consciousness concerning this form of dance.

In a statement, Association of Dance Scholars and Practitioners of Nigeria (ADSPON) President, Prof. Jeleel Ojuade, raised the need to use dance as a weapon to alleviate the suffering of people during this COVID-19 pandemic.

In the paper titled, ‘Alleviating the pains, create a space and dance on coronavirus #COVID 19’, Ojuade said aside celebrating ‘dance’, the day “is to further espouse dance and revel in the universality of the art form, which cuts across political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together under the same umbrella with a common language – ‘dance’.”

He said, “sadly, the outbreak of ‘coronavirus’ has contaminated millions of people around the globe, while many nations are beneath lockdown! Heeding to professional counsel to remain in dwelling and practice of social distancing; abiding by the rules in order to get the ‘virus’ off the target.”

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The dance scholar said ADSPON joins other bodies and dancers in the celebration of the International Dance Day 2020 through digital events (online) to elevate the consciousness of the dance art. “This is a clarion call on the global communities to explore the various inherent opportunities in dance.”

He added, “dance, being a ‘non-verbal communication art and therapeutic in nature’ comes in handy as a potent tool in alleviating pain; and it is believed to set your body and soul free if you adhere strictly to the etiquette.

“We, therefore, urge the global citizens to ‘create a space and dance on coronavirus’ while observing the social distancing rules within the confine of the lockdown. Dance is healthy and will give each and everyone life, fitness, and mental health.”

While saying this is not the time for ‘talks’ but ‘actions’, Ojuade called on the United Nations (UN), World Health Organisation (WHO), leaders of committee of nations, traditional institutions among other bodies to assist the global communities in ‘jointly’ ensuring the total eradication of this COVID 19 pandemic.

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