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OP-ED: A day for dance

  • Published at 05:48 am April 29th, 2021
BSA dance artistes performed a dance-drama titled 'Muktir Mohaakkhyan' UNB

What makes April 29 so special 

There are a number of reasons that make April 29 in Bangladesh a special day, bringing much joy but also considerable sadness. However, another year with physical distancing, sickness, hunger, and hopelessness, one wonders if anyone can dance, if anyone can be happy!

International Dance Day

April 29 is a day to, normally, “let your hair down” and enjoy yourself. Country dances around the world are celebrated with both the old and the young having a happy time. 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. 

The International Dance Day Message 2021 is by Friedemann Vogel, a renowned ballet dancer, who has written: “Everything starts with movement -- an instinct we all have -- and dance is movement refined to communicate. Much as flawless technique is important and impressive, it is ultimately what the dancer expresses inside the movement that is the essence. As dancers, we are constantly on the move, aspiring to create these unforgettable moments. 

“Regardless of the dance genre, it’s what every dancer strives to achieve. So, when all of a sudden, we aren’t allowed to perform anymore, with theatres closed and festivals cancelled, our worlds come to a standstill. No physical contact. No shows. No audiences. Never in recent history has the dance community been so collectively challenged to stay motivated, to find our raison d’être. 

“Yet, it is precisely when something precious has been taken away from us that we truly appreciate how vital it is what we do, and how much dance means to society at large. Dancers are often celebrated for their physical prowess, when in fact we are sustained even more by our mental strength. I believe it is this unique combination of physical and psychological agility that will help us overcome, to reinvent ourselves to keep dancing, and to keep inspiring.”

Locked down at home, dances can surely take place and will be a sort of a medicine which can remove the monotony and the boredom.

1991 cyclone

In Bangladesh, it is the 30th anniversary of the devastating cyclone of April 29, 1991, Cyclone 2B, which inundated the coastline and off-shore islands of Chittagong, Chakoria and Cox’s Bazar. Although the official death toll was 138,000, it is estimated that very many more perished on that fateful night. 

It took several weeks to recover the bodies of the victims. As many as 10 million people, by some accounts, were left homeless by Cyclone 2B. Additionally, a million head of cattle were lost. Because of this, and the heavy loss of crops, shortage of food supplies posed a critical danger to the survivors. Bangladesh’s disaster preparedness in 2021 has improved significantly as has been proved when dealing with Cyclone Amphan in 2020, but with the effects of climate change altering all aspects of weather, we need to continuously improve all aspects of disaster preparedness, relief, and rehabilitation activities.

World No-golf Day

April 29 is also observed in some countries as “World No-Golf Day” because on this day in 1993 the Global Anti-Golf Movement (GAG’M) was launched at a meeting in Penang, Malaysia by some Asian environmental organizations. 

At that time, the cost of playing golf in places like Japan had sky-rocketed and golf tourism started whereby Japanese businessmen would travel to countries like Thailand and Indonesia where new golf courses were being built. Small farmers were being pushed off their agricultural land, which was gradually transformed. 

Exotic soil and grass, chemical fertilizers, fungicides and weedicides, as well as machinery were all imported to substitute for natural eco-systems. The environmental impacts included water depletion and toxic contamination of the soil, underground water, surface water, and the air. This in turn led to health problems for local communities, populations downstream, and even golfers, caddies, and chemical sprayers in golf courses.

Adolf Hitler and April 29, 1945

This was the day on which Adolf Hitler realized that he would soon be killed by the approaching Soviet army. He had learned that day how the Italian wartime leader Mussolini had been brutally killed and his dead body put on public display. Hitler was determined to avoid that sort of end. He and his long time companion, Eva Braun, married that night and a few hours later took their own lives.

Julian Francis, born on April 29, 1945, believes that Hitler, in fact, committed suicide on hearing of his (the writer’s) birth.

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