Do you know.....It's International Dance Day!?



It's a dreary raining gray, far-too-cold-for-April 29th day in Toronto, but you can be assured that somewhere in the world it is sunny and warm, and since it is International Dance Day, we can all soak up that sun vicariously.

I intended to write about International Dance Day sooner but have been bogged down by a string of illnesses over the last two months which have drained me of my ability to get things done in a timely fashion. I've been rehearsing one project or another non-stop, which is amazing -- truly amazing how dancing can transport the ailing body from itself even if just running a 30 second section of choreography. I can forget that I have pneumonia/sinusitis/a bad cold/an eye infection.

The possibility for transcendence through dance can be on this individual microcosmic scale, and also has been noted recently in work with those suffering from Parkinson's. Dance as a regular activity can override symptoms and give participants in dance liberation from their ailment. (See Dance International's most recent issue for more about this.)

In Toronto, this evening there is a reception at Queen's Park to celebrate International Dance Day with a performance from Kevin Ormsby's Kashe Dance. It is by invitation only, but still wonderful to see the day acknowledged by our provincial government.

Canadian Dance Assembly is hosting free events at Dundas Square. Mama Dances, dance yoga, a flash mob, and fantastic performances by Jasmyn Fyffe Dance, Motus O Dance and the Dance Migration.  11 am to 1pm.

It's hard to say what will happen with this dreary weather, but keep your eyes open and if you're nearby you can bet there will be dancing if the weather breaks.

There are many more IDD events and activities going on. Just google it and you'll see!

The above photo is from 2009 when I was lucky to be part of the IDD Dundas Square performances on a cold April day when I was 7 months pregnant. There were hints of rain that day -- although nothing like this morning. That year the event was put on by Dance Ontario with the Dance Umbrella of Ontario.

I had five amazing and lovely dancers work with me over a few short rehearsals to make a structured improvisational score dedicated to a dear friend Onik who was lost off a breaker on a rainy, windy day on the Pacific Ocean.  To dance under a wide sky with the threat of rain, feeling dwarfed by the buildings and billboards around us somehow mitigated the loss and made the dance even more bittersweet.

This is what dance can do -- make your heart and intellect soar while dancing for or about the darkest and most terrifying things.

I can't remember who said it, some genius artist like Peter Brook or Pablo Picasso: all art is about loss.

Inuit artist Alootook Ipellie said making art is a way to contribute to the human quest for the meaning of life.

These scattered thoughts collected here today are my wish that all of us run out into the rain and wind -- and let our bodies be beams of light scouring the dark, wet places to find what shimmers.

Happy International Dance Day!

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