Korean Shaman
Korean Shaman

Cross-Cultural Dance Resources recognizes the annual

World Dance Day

We forward the following article by Prof. Alkis Raftis, President of the International Dance Council - CID, UNESCO, written in 1999

In this last year of the 20th century, it is imperative to look back and attempt a bird's eye view of the course of events regarding dance in the last hundred years. Two major events will distinguish this past century's state of the dance on a world-wide perspective. Two new dance genres emerged at its outset, grew consistently throughout its span, and had created a new space for their respective forms by the end of the twentieth century: folk and modern dance.*

Folk dance appeared when amateur dancers in the cities discovered they could practice traditional, that is peasant, dances for recreation and for stage presentation. These same dances were being abandoned steadily by their original practitioners, the rural populations in traditional cultures.

(NOTE by JWK: For another point of view about "folk dance" see Kealiinohomoku, Joann 1972 "Folk Dance," Richard M. Dorson (editor), Folklore and Folklife: An Introduction, pages 381-404. Chicago: University of Chicago; and 1998 "Folk Dance," Academic American Encyclopedia 8: pages 199-201. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier.)

Modern dance was born when professional dancers rejected the constraints of classical ballet and presented performances based on individual expression and their concepts of what constituted free movement.

During this century, classical ballet gained in variety, depth and refinement, in perfecting its incomparable technique, and in spreading to many countries who had not known it before.

Ballroom dance acquired new friends and new methods, and expanded counterpart in popular dance fashions that swept the youth of the world, like rock'n'roll and discotheques. This was a century of renaissance and "naissance" in dance.

*( Kealiinohomoku suggests powwow dancing as another genre that flourished in the twentieth century . This genre is comparable to "folk dance" and "modern dance" in scope and influence.)

Turning now to the next century, we would like to see:

-More communication between families of dance, though not abolishing the borderlines between them.

-Return to the ancestral global vision of dance, as part of an event incorporating music, movement, theater, song. Arts have shown a marked tendency to isolate themselves; they lose their poetic content in the process.

-More knowledge of the past, more consciousness of belonging to a line of evolution. There has been a rampant idolization of innovation. Even the wildest revolutionaries should know well what they revolt against. Even the most inspired creators cannot do without the study of their predecessors.

-More visibility for dance. In the past centuries dance used to be omnipresent in private and public life, while during this century its practice has retracted. Now sports have audiences ten times larger than dance.

The recent boom of the last two decades is evidence supporting an optimistic view of the future, for amateur as well as for professional dancers.

Prof. Alkis Raftis
President of the
International Dance Council - CID
UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, FR-75732 Paris 15, France

email: cid@unesco.org

1. The World Dance Day has been established in 1982 in view of attracting attention to the art of dance, every year on the 29th of April. On that day, dance companies, dance schools, organizations and individuals are asked to organize an activity addressing an audience larger than their usual one.

The International Dance Council (Conseil International de la Danse - CID) is the official umbrella organization for all forms of dance in all countries of the world.
It is a non-governmental non-profit organization (NGO) founded in 1973 within the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where it is based. Its purpose is to act as a worldwide forum bringing together international, national and local organizations as well as individuals active in dance.
It represents the interests of the dance world at large and consults accordingly governments and international agencies.

3. Please address all inquiries to:
International Dance Council - CID
UNESCO, 1 rue Miollis, FR-75732 Paris 15, France

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