Will dance and rafting become UNESCO cultural heritage? – DW – 11/22/2022

Contemporary dance and wood rafting are competing for inclusion in the World List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2022. Germany sent both applications to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Modern dance

Why modern dance? At the same time, to be honest, it is not so modern anymore. It’s not about hip-hop or breakdance. Modern dance, which claims to be included in the Cultural Heritage List, is a style that emerged in the 1920s and became the embodiment of the emancipation and emancipation of body and soul.

Mary Wigman
Mary WigmanPhoto: picture-alliance/akg-images/G. Schutz

“Pioneer of modern dance” called the legendary German dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman (Mary Wigman, 1886-1973). Her motto was: “There is no dance without ecstasy!”. The contemporary dance nomination “instilled confidence, created an upsurge in the professional community and showed once again that dance has an outstanding power to bring people together,” said Michael Freundt, head of the German Dance Association.

Along with expressive dance, a rather ancient craft, wood rafting, claims the title of World Intangible Heritage. The “golden” years of timber rafting in Europe fell on the period from the Middle Ages to the second half of the last century. As a kind of forest transport by water, it was used at crossings, reservoirs and rivers. Germany has submitted an application together with Latvia, Austria, Poland, Spain and the Czech Republic. Martin Spreng, President of the German Timber Rafting Association, is pleased with the nomination and the exchange of experience that has arisen between the participants of the joint application.

The list of intangible cultural heritage is growing

The Convention for the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which has already been ratified by 180 countries, was adopted by UNESCO in 2003. The list of objects to be protected based on this document illustrates the diversity of humankind’s cultural heritage and highlights the importance of traditions, also highlighting the danger of their complete disappearance. Germany ratified the treaty in 2013. Lists of intangible cultural heritage already contain more than 600 items from 140 countries. Among them are, for example, the Azerbaijani national women’s headdress kelaghai, the skills of making Kyrgyz and Kazakh yurts, the Brazilian national martial art capoeira, Armenian lavash and the Japanese tradition of papermaking.

The decision on inclusion in the list of intangible cultural heritage will be taken at a meeting of UNESCO, which will be held from November 28 to December 3 in Rabat, the capital of Morocco.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at