News

Magpie Dance represents the UK on International Dance Day 2021

29 Apr 2021

There Were Definately Swans by HIghfliers, an initiative of Magpie Dance, performed at Expressions, a sharing of dance hosted by Northern Ballet in Leeds. Photo by Tim Smith.

Magpie Dance – a Bromley-based dance charity which transforms the lives of people with learning disabilities – has been selected to represent the UK in this Thursday’s (29th April) International Day of Dance, hosted by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), the world organisation for the performing arts.

Magpie Dance was founded in 1985, by Avril Hitman BEM, as a way of encouraging society to include rather than exclude people because of a disability. Since the beginning, its aim has been for the dancers to have as many opportunities as possible to perform and collaborate with different companies and artists.  Today, it is the leading dance charity in the UK to change perceptions of what children, young people and adults with learning disabilities can achieve.

ITI was created on the initiative of the first UNESCO Director General, Sir Julian Huxley in 1948 with the aim of building an organisation aligned with UNESCO’s goals on culture, education and the arts.  The Dance Committee of ITI founded International Dance Day in 1982 to be celebrated every year on 29th April, the birthday anniversary of Jean-Georges Noverre, 1727-1810, the creator of modern ballet. The intention of International Dance Day is to celebrate dance, to revel in the universality of this art form, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and to bring people together with a common language – dance!

Laura Graham, Magpie Dance’s Executive Director said: “There are so many fantastic dance companies across the UK, so we are thrilled and honoured that we have been selected and that our work has been recognised by ITI.  We are always excited to partner with organisations and share our work in new ways”, whilst Alison Ferrao, Magpie Dance’s Artistic Director added “Although we have been at home, our dancers continue to inspire us by adapting to technology to keep on dancing! It is amazing that we will be connecting internationally and that our work will reach so many more people. We hope this will bring more collaboration opportunities as we look to launch our next artistic theme – Global Moves and Grooves – exploring how and why people dance across the globe”.

Despite a world pandemic, Magpie Dance have been busy collaborating with renowned artists and companies via online performances and workshops including Protein Dance, Martha Graham Dance Company (New York), Propellor Dance (Canada), and through their partnership with The Royal Opera House they have invited guest teachers, Federico Bonelli, Hikaru Kobayashi and David Pickering MBE to name but a few!

Oliver Tobin, Director of Martha Graham Resources and Teens@Graham at Martha Graham Dance Company says: “BRAVO on this work! I watched both films (Arising and The Making of… Arising) and am truly inspired (and had such a smile on my face the entire time). The dancers look wonderful, and I really appreciated their thoughtful and very open questions/feedback with Laurel. Thank you for sharing and for the work you do.  Looking forward to continuing our conversation and work together.” 

On International Dance Day, Thursday 29th April, as well as appearing in the global programme, Magpie Dance will be releasing videos throughout the day on their YouTube channel to show the wonderful work they have been creating (including collaborations and a series of ‘Learn…’ videos where you can see some Magpie dancers teaching rep).  Please subscribe to the channel at Magpie Dance – YouTube to receive notifications (this is a free service).

International Dance Day 2021 is an online celebration programme.  ITI Centres and Cooperating Members, prominent figures of the global dance communities, plus dance companies contributed more than three hours of beautiful dance performances videos to this online celebration.   From different continents of the world, these performances can be dances of classic and contemporary, in solo, pas de deux and group, on a stage or any space, happening in an actual venue or online. All of them combined is an excellent expression of cultural diversity and human resilience when facing difficulties. Just as the slogans in the International Dance Day introduction videos, let us dance together in all corners of the world to create light in the dark.

Please watch the International Dance Day 2021 Online Celebration from Thursday April 29th, 14h00 Paris Time at www.international-dance-day.org (for full programme click here).