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From jazz to tap, from ballroom to swing, from folk to modern, dance has been an important part of human life and culture for several millennia. And the way that dances are created comes from some very special and talented people: choreographers. 

History of International Choreographers Day

People have probably been moving to rhythms as long as there has been music. The earliest evidence that archaeologists have found for dancing dates back to at least 7000 BC and it’s likely that dancing goes even further back than that! In most cultures, human beings have shown an innate desire to move their bodies in unique ways that have developed over time.

As dance has evolved over the centuries and throughout the world, choreographers have been creating, planning and often teaching dances to others. Especially in the past several decades since the term “choreographer” has come into common use, planned dances and routines have become an integral part of musical theater, film, television, performance events and more.

For around 70 years, choreographers have been receiving recognition for excellence on Broadway through the Tony Awards. Other awards earned by choreographers in the US include the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography and the MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography.

Now, International Choreographers Day offers a chance for everyone to give credit and attention to these folks who have been creating dances, techniques and moves for many years.

International Choreographers Day Timeline

1727

Jean-Georges Noverre is born 

Noverre will become a trailblazer in the world of ballet masters and his birthday will be celebrated at International Dance Day.[1]

1930s

Early use of the term choreography

From Greek, the term literally translates to mean “dance writing”.[2]

1947

First Tony Award for choreography

wins the Tony Award for Best Choreography for Brigadoon.[3]

1975

George Faison wins a Tony Award 

This producer, dancer, writer, composer and director becomes the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Choreography for Broadway’s The Wiz.[4]

1982

International Choreographic Competition begins 

The world’s longest running competition for choreographers takes place in Hanover, Germany.[5]

How to Celebrate International Choreographers Day

Have tons of fun enjoying and celebrating International Choreographers Day! Take some ideas from one of these, or get creative and come up with some other unique ideas for the day:

Learn Some New Dance Moves

One of the best ways to pay honor to International Choreographers Day is to just start dancing. And while a freestyle dance is certainly acceptable, maybe this is the time to go all out and learn how to do a famous dance sequence. Whether with a partner or alone, pull up a favorite dance sequence from a movie or on YouTube and get started learning it!

Perhaps it could be the famous Time of My Life final dance scene from Dirty Dancing. Or maybe it will be a bit more comical with the rousing performance by Napoleon Dynamite to Canned Heat by Jamiroquai. Or, dip back into the seventies and try out the iconic John Travolta dance scene to the Bee Gees song More than a Woman in the movie Saturday Night Fever. Whatever the song, whether you keep it to yourself or use it to impress friends, this is the perfect time to learn some choreography! 

Enjoy Some Amazing Choreography on Film

One of the best ways to celebrate International Choreographers Day would be to appreciate some of the best choreography that has been created and brought to the big screen throughout the years. Consider watching one of these amazing dancing films in honor of the day:

  • Top Hat (1935). There’s hardly a more famous dance couple than Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and any of their films would be perfect to watch on International Choreographers Day. This one contains one of their most famous ballroom dances, Cheek to Cheek.
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor make an amazing team using incredibly tight choreography– including props like stairs, sofas, and a streetlamp on a rainy night.
  • Stormy Weather (1943). Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers show their amazing tap dancing skills in the song Jumpin’ Jive.
  • La La Land (2016). Who says that modern musical films can’t have amazing dance scenes? This film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone provides a fun and fresh look at romance, creativity and art.

Thank a Choreographer

Those who are dancers, have been dancers in the past, or have simply enjoyed watching dance performances, might consider taking a bit of time on this day to thank a choreographer. Perhaps write a note to one you know, or send a note of appreciation to the choreographer at the local community theater or dance troupe. Those who work in music and dance can almost certainly find opportunities to congratulate someone on International Choreographers Day!

Create A Unique Dance

It’s not necessary to be a professional to be creative when it comes to dance. Everyone who can move has permission to simply cut loose and do what they love! Who knows what incredible pieces of moving art might come out of working toward creating a new dance?

Choose a song and then take some time on International Choreography Day to get creative with dance and come up with some unique dance sequences of your own!

Learn More about Important Choreographers

International Choreographers Day presents the perfect opportunity to dig just a bit deeper into the world of dance and get to know a little more about those artists behind the scenes. Read a biography, watch a documentary or simply dig up some information about a few choreographers through an online search.

Perhaps get started by getting to know some of these noteworthy choreographers:

  • George Balanchine. Often considered to be one of the most influential ballet choreographers of the 20th century, Balanchine co-founded the New York City Ballet and is considered to be the founder of neoclassical ballet. 
  • Martha Graham. Bringing revolution to modern dance in America, Graham developed her own choreographic language and style, with a career that expanded for more than seven decades. 
  • Bob Fosse. A pioneer in American jazz dance, Bob Fosse won eight Tony Awards for Best Choreography (setting a record) and his unique dance style is practiced throughout the world. He was also a talented and award winning director. 
  • Katherine Dunham. Often considered to be the matriarch or “queen mother” of Black dance, Dunham developed her own dance technique and was an innovator of African-American dance.

International Choreographers Day FAQs

Who choreographed West Side Story?

The choreographer for the original 1961 film was Jerome Robbins.[1]

How to become a choreographer?

Most choreographers start out as dancers, often earning a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree an also beginning as an assistant choreographer in shows.[2]

Do choreographers make good money?

The median annual salary for a choreographer in 2020 was just over $43,000.[3]

What does a choreographer do?

Choreographers plan, create and teach dance routines for performances and productions.[4]

Is choreography protected by copyright?

Choreography copyright is complicated but most dances can be copied and modified freely, as long as they are not produced exactly the same way to the same music.[5]

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