International Dance Day was April 29. To be honest, I had never heard of it before — and that is a shame because dance (of all kinds) deserves a day of celebration. My first thought was to mark the occasion by attending one of the fabulous shows happening in Vancouver right now, some of which are related to International Dance Day. I considered seeing Ballet BC’s new work U/NA or the possibility of taking in Modus Operandi’s work-in-progress. But, as regional editor of The Dance Current, I am in the extremely privileged position of seeing dance all the time and so this particular plan felt kind of … mundane. What I don’t do very often is actually dance. I love dancing but somehow I rarely get around to it. So, I went to where the rubber meets the road and celebrated International Dance Day by actually dancing.
Luckily there were a number of events (officially and unofficially part of International Dance Day) ideal for the latent dancer in all of us. The Training Society of Vancouver presented workshops with Anouk Froidevaux on the occasion of International Dance Day, which aimed to create a heightened state of awareness through the language of dance, including guided visualization, improvisation techniques and physical tasks. Open to professional dancers and amateurs alike, these workshops helped participants to get out of the mind, and into the body — an important and immensely beneficial process. The workshops are at the Scotiabank Dance Centre on April 29 and May 1 from 12:00 – 2:00pm, $15 drop in.
On April 30, the day after International Dance Day, there was a session of Stack of Moves, Jen Weih and Justine A. Chambers’ month-long participatory movement experimentation. Conceptualized by Weih (a visual artist) and Chambers (a dancer/choreographer), Stack of Moves is radically accessible and attracts a diverse crowd of primarily amateur movers like myself. Focused more on the codes of social dance than the vocabularies of the contemporary dance canon, the evening is built around “studies and experiments in movement, synchrony, exchange and rhythm.” While still a fairly underground event, Stack of Moves has been happening throughout April at 141 – 2050 Scotia Street. Access was through the alley, with pay-what-you-can admission and a suggested entry price between $3 to $5.
Both of these events are refreshing because they are sure to be fun, while not encouraging participation just for the sake of it. They also investigate some important ideas about the way we operate mentally, physically and socially as dancers and as people. For perpetual audience members, these events provide the chance to think through the complexities of dance with our own bodies. On International Dance Day it seemed apt to take the opportunity to engage with the radical social and physical potential of movement and dance, onstage and off. Such events remind us of the joy of dance, whether that means rehearsing for a show, throwing down in the club or spinning some wobbly pirouettes witnessed only by your bathroom mirror.