The Language of the Soul: Three films to watch on International Dance Day

By Ana Cardoso

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
― Martha Graham

Dance is one of the worlds’ oldest arts and is characterised by being an artistic manifesto and a form of human expression. Through dance, values and emotions are transmitted and culture is shared. There are no barriers, but a principle of social, material, cultural and gender equality.

International Dance Day was created by the International Theatre Institute’s (ITI), International Dance Committee, in 1982. Since then April 29 is celebrated as such, on the creator of modern ballet, Jean-Georges Noverre‘s (1727-1810) birthday. A dancer, ballet master and dance theorist, Noverre was called by some, the “Shakespeare of Dance”.

International Dance Day aims to celebrate dance, conveying its ideals and universality, honouring, encouraging and promoting it across all political, cultural and ethnic barriers, thus bringing people together through a common language. It acts as a powerful wake-up call for its potential as a contributor to economic growth.

Several companies, dance schools and conservatories worldwide, hold shows, festivals, workshops, lectures, competitions and events in celebration of this day.

Our contribution is three films suggestions, which beautifully represent and symbolise the mastery and passion behind this art, to watch or re-watch.

(2016) by Steven Cantor

I didn’t choose ballet, it’s who I am.
Sergei Polunin

Dancer is a film about passion, anguish, suffering, dedication and success. It portrays urban rebel, iconoclast and airborne angel, Sergei Polunin, a Ukrainian dancer that took the dance world by storm, becoming the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal and who at the peak of his success, at 25, walked away, driven to the brink of self-destruction by stardom. The film powerfully describes what a dancer faces to conquer his dreams, fight his greatest fears while trying to reach the highest level, in an unprecedented look into the life of a complex human being who made ballet go viral.

(2011) by Wim Wenders

I’m not interested in how people move; I’m interested in what makes them move.
Pina Bausch

Pina is Wim Wenders exuberant tribute to German modern dance pioneer and one of the world’s true creative visionaries, Pina Bausch. Done posthumously, two years after Bausch’s death, the film is a homage to the director’s late friend, originating from an already ongoing collaboration that started its preproduction when she died in 2009. Shot in 3D, the film results in an extraordinary visual experience that showcases her bold legacy, in a vivid representation of Bausch’s art, enacted by a group of amazingly talented dancers from her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

(2019) by Alla Kovgan

Dance is an art in space and time. The object of the dancer is to obliterate that.
Merce Cunningham

Cunningham is a poetic film depicting, one of the world’s most visionary and influential choreographers, Merce Cunningham. Arranged through his iconic works and performed by the last generation of his dancers, it traces Merce’s artistic evolution over three decades, from 1944 to 1972. Shot in 3D, it showcases his work and career, from the early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the greatest, weaving together his philosophies and stories, in a stunning and poignant journey into Mercer’s world.

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