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Nigerians love to dance. The Nigerian entertainment industry in recent years has been characterized by new dance moves like Alanta, Shoki, Dab, Etigi, Shakitibobo. Nigeria has successfully exported these dance moves as not just Nigerians but the world has embraced them. It will be recalled that Missy Eliot danced shoki in her latest video, ‘Where they from’.

Nigerians love to dance, be it at wedding, in the club, at home or in church. It however comes as a shock that International Dance Day is barely ever celebrated in Nigeria. In fact a lot of people do not know the day even exists.

International Dance Day was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Council (CID, Conseil International de la Danse), a UNESCO partner NGO, and is celebrated yearly, on April 29. The date is not linked to a particular person or a particular form of dance, although it’s also the day when the French dancer and ballet master, Jean-Georges Noverre was born.

The main purpose of Dance Day events is to attract the attention of the wider public to the art of dance. Emphasis should be given to addressing a new public, people who do not follow dance events in the course of the year.

Here are some fun facts about dancing that everyone should know:

• First archeological proof of dance comes from the 9000 old cave paintings in India.

• One of the earliest uses of structured dance was introduced in religious ceremonies that told the stories of ancient myths and gods. Egyptian priests used this kind of visual storytelling in their rituals.

• In 1923, the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, passed a law forbidding dancers to stare into each other’s eyes.

• Under Egyptian law, belly-dancers must have their navel covered when they perform.

• Marathon dance contests are illegal in the state of Washington.

• Lion Dance is one of the most popular religious and ceremonious dances in China and surrounding countries of Taiwan, Korea and Japan. This dance can signify bringing of good fortune, ward off evil spirits and be an excellent showcase in martial arts.

• The “Dancing Plague”of 1518 was a mania that lasted a month and killed dozens of people in Strasbourg, France through exhaustion or heart attack. People just danced uncontrollably until they collapsed. One other famous case involved people dancing on a bridge. Eventually so many people danced that they broke the bridge and fell into the river.

• In 1988, a world record for the longest conga dance line was set by 119,986 people in Miami.

• Everyone loves Tupac Shakur. But not everyone knows he used to do ballet—and he was very much good at it that he became a member of the 127th Street Ensemble, a Harlem based Theater Company.

• It is speculated that while foreigners may have given it its name, twerking, a dance involving mostly the buttocks was invented by our very own Fela.

Author: Ope Adedeji