International Dance Day 2024


Initiated in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute, International Dance Day falls on April 29 of every year, commemorating the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, a distinguished choreographer that brought about significant reforms in ballet production.

Today April 29 is International Dance Day and we are honored to share this year’s International Dance Day message by the choreographer, dancer, curator and community leader Olivia C. Davies.

I must first let go of what no longer serves me

Dancing has been and always will be the way I can find my way back to my heart. Even in times of healing, when the sun can’t be seen from behind the clouds and my body feels heavy with grief, a song can find its way into my bones where it will lift my spirit and free my mind. Shifting the focus away from any judgment I may carry about what it means to be free to dance for joy, I experiment with how many daily tedium tasks can become a just little bit lighter when infused with rhythm.

As my body changes and my aging body moves in different ways now than it did when I was younger, I look for the state of wellbeing that comes from dancing my blood memory; the experience of finding ease and freedom as I move in rhythm with my heart. Thanks to the wise movers and shakers that have left their pedagogical imprint on me, I now understand how our blood memory can be unlocked when we dance and new ways of being reveal themselves. Our dancing bodies have so much to teach us about adaptability, flexibility, strength and resilience.

I asked our O.Dela Arts associate artists to reflect on the ways dance brings wellness into their lives and this is what they had to share.

“Dance is my greatest teacher: she teaches me all about how to breathe, how to change, how to be strong, how to be soft, how to manage energy and magic, how to peacefully reflect what I witness and how to move through this world, in this human body.  She teaches me about my past and future ancestors while remaining infinitely present.” Sophie Dow, Artistic Associate.

“Dancing brings me back to my body, and the earth.  Bringing my awareness to my breath and the ground I stand on allows me to let go of negative, unhelpful thoughts and connect to my honest self through movement.” Samantha Sutherland, Artistic Associate.

On this International Dance Day, I offer one of the first teachings about generosity that was shared with me by my teachers. It is a teaching that brings me back full circle to my heart when my mind takes over and my body loses balance. It is shared with you as an offering to take with you in your dance journey. Consider it a mantra to hold onto as you move through life.

I must first let go of what no longer serves me, so that I can gather in what will, and then give out what I can.

Olivia C. Davies, Artistic Director, O.Dela Arts / Matriarchs Uprising

Olivia C. Davies is a Canadian Contemporary Indigenous dance artist who creates and collaborates across multiple platforms including choreography, curation, conversation, film, and sound design to share stories that open new ways to experience the world. Davies’ body of work spans three decades with creations and collaborations that explore the emotional and political relationships between people and places, often investigating the body’s dynamic ability to transmit narrative, blood memory, and a neo-traditional Indigenous perspective. In 2018, she founded O.Dela Arts and Matriarchs Uprising Festival. She honours her mixed-blood ancestry as an Algonquin Anishinaabe-Kwe with French-Canadian, Finnish and Welsh heritage.

International Dance Day Message 2024 by Marianela NÚÑEZ

A memory is not enough to make history. And the history of a theatre, like that of each one, is also the history of others, of how an art like dance migrated and grew in different latitudes. The walls of the Royal Ballet treasure photographs that narrate the journey, history calls for its protagonists and dance in Argentina shines with each of those names. Often, institutions submerge themselves in silent anonymity, without faces or surnames, avoiding facing the echo of the past. The organizations promoted and supported by ITI-UNESCO, such as the Argentine Dance Council, that frequently act as a wall that stops forgetfulness. I am with you all in the commitment to rescue and revitalize the history of masters, artists and choreographers who have enriched the world of dance, deserving of being heard by future generations. Let us all know that we are not spectators, but inheritors of a tradition forged with art, dignity and sacrifice, nourishing our path with vocation and love for beauty. Although the future and the present capture our attention, without the solid foundation of the past, without the fertility of our land, the dance tree cannot flourish. The roots are tradition and at the same time… nutrients.

Marianela NÚÑEZ, Argentina

With initial training at the “Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón”, Marianela Núñez, born on March 23, 1982 in San Martin, Argentina, has flourished as a leading figure in the world of ballet. She entered London’s Royal Ballet in 1997, where she rose through the ranks as a principal dancer. Her repertoire has led her to captivate global audiences with unforgettable performances in works such as “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Giselle.” Recognized with prestigious international awards such as the Benois de la Danse Award and the Laurence Olivier Award, and national awards such as the María Ruanova Award given by the Argentine Dance Council and in 2010 the Konex Award for the best dancer of the decade.
Marianela has received critical acclaim for her performances; her character of Aurora was considered to have been the Royal Ballet’s best since 1946, demonstrating her ability to captivate audiences with her exceptional expressiveness and technique. Her career reveals not only technical skill, but also her deep nobility and commitment to dance and future generations. Her generous and altruistic personality establishes her as a beacon of inspiration and role model in the world of ballet and beyond.


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