International Dance Day

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International Dance & Song Day
Observed byAll UN Member States
DateApril 29
Next time29 April 2024 (2024-04-29)

International Dance Day is a global celebration of dance, created by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the main partner for the performing arts of UNESCO. The event takes place every year on 29 April, which is the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre (1727–1810), who is considered to be the "father" or creator of modern ballet (ie. classical or romantic ballet as we know it today not "Modern Ballet" as this is sometimes confused with contemporary ballet.) The day strives to encourage participation and education in dance through events and festivals held on the date all over the world. UNESCO formally recognize ITI to be the creators and organizers of the event.[1]


Every year, since its creation in 1982, an outstanding dance personality is selected to write a message for International Dance Day. ITI also create a flagship event in a selected host city, at which there are dance performances, educational workshops, humanitarian projects and speeches made by ambassadors, dignitaries, dance personalities and the selected Message Author for that year.[2]

The 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.


To mark International Dance Day each year, on 29 April, the International Theatre Institute invites its members along with dancers, choreographers, dance students and enthusiasts to join them in a Gala Celebration.

Ballet dancer on stage

The Gala Celebration takes place in a chosen host city decided on by the Executive Council of the International Theatre Institute – for instance in 2017 it was held in Shanghai, China, and in 2018 it was in Havana, Cuba.[3]

The programme of the Gala Event can vary, but usually consists of top-quality dance performances from around the world, student performances, keynote speeches, and a recital of the Message for that year’s event read, in person, by that years selected message author.

In Shanghai 2017 for instance,[4] the event became a three-day celebration with greater emphasis on education through dance workshops and presentations led by an international cast of dance experts. The evenings were reserved for performances, the finale of which was the Gala Celebration. The Shanghai event also had a humanitarian aspect, with much of its focus being on celebrating the achievements of disabled dancers and encouraging disabled children to dance.[5]

Beyond the Gala itself, ITI Centres across the globe are encouraged to mark 29 April in their own country through special educational initiatives, humanitarian drives, dance performances and festivals.[6]

Message Authors[edit]

To help publicise International Dance Day each year the International Theatre Institute selects an outstanding personality from the world of dance to be the Message Author for the event. In the message, it is hoped that the author can underline the relevance and power of dance. Past authors have included Trisha Brown, Alicia Alonso, and Merce Cunningham.

As 2018 marked the 70th Anniversary of ITI, 5 Message Authors were selected for the 2018 event, one from each of the 5 UNESCO Regions. The 5 authors were; Georgette Gebara (Lebanon, Arab Countries), Salia Sanou (Burkina Faso, Africa), Marianela Boan (Cuba, The Americas), Willy Tsao (China, Asia-Pacific) and Ohad Naharin (Israel, Europe).

List of past Message Authors:[7]

Year Message Author(s) Nationality
2020 Gregory Vuyani Maqoma South Africa
2019 Karima Mansour Egypt
2018 Georgette Gebara, Salia Sanou, Marianela Boan, Willy Tsao & Ohad Naharin Lebanon, Burkina Faso, Cuba, China & Israel
2017 Trisha Brown USA
2016 Lemi Ponifasio Samoa & New Zealand
2015 Israel Galván Spanish
2014 Mourad Merzouki French
2013 Lin Hwai-min Chinese Taipei
2012 Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Belgium
2011 Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Belgium
2010 Julio Bocca Argentina
2009 Akram Khan (dancer) United Kingdom
2008 Gladys Agulhas South Africa
2007 Sasha Waltz Germany
2006 Norodom Sihamoni Cambodia
2005 Miyako Yoshida Japan
2004 Stephen Page Australia
2003 Mats Ek Sweden
2002 Katherine Dunham United States
2001 William Forsythe (choreographer) United States
2000 Alicia Alonso, Jiří Kylián & Cyrielle Lecueur Cuba, Russia & France
1999 Mahmoud Reda Egypt
1998 Kazuo Ohno Japan
1997 Maurice Béjart France
1996 Maya Plisetskaya Russia
1995 Murray Lewis United States
1994 Dai Ailian China & Trinidad and Tobago
1993 Maguy Marin France
1992 Germaine Acogny Benin and Senegal
1991 Hans van Manen Netherlands
1990 Merce Cunningham United States
1989 Doris Laine Finland
1988 Robin Howard United Kingdom
1987 Dance Committee of ITI International
1986 Chetna Jalan India
1985 Robert Joffrey United States
1984 Yury Grigorovich Russia
1983 No Message Author N/A
1982 Henrik Neubauer Slovenia


  1. ^ "Dance Day 2015 - Message by Mr Pérez de Armiñán, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Dance Day".
  3. ^ "Main Event". International Dance Day. Futura Communications. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  4. ^ XU Wei (21 April 2017). "International Dance Day to be Celebrated in Shanghai". Shanghai Daily. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  5. ^ ITI (2017). IDD Brochure.
  6. ^ "International Dance Day - International Theatre Institute ITI". Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  7. ^ "International Dance Day - International Theatre Institute ITI". Retrieved 29 April 2020.

External links[edit]