This 8-day chapter of Battery Dance Company's Asia Tour was hosted by Buzz Dance Theatre, Western Australia's only professional contemporary dance company and one of Australia's only dance companies that targets young audiences through performances, workshops, master classes and festivals.
Collaborating with a known entity
In this case, an Australian dance company with shared values – is a big step towards a successful outcome.
Keep track of your alumnae
Battery Dance Company’s Managing Director moved back to Australia, joined Buzz Dance Theatre, and organized our Australian Debut program.
For each of the Perth performances, Buzz shared its audiences and half of the program with Battery Dance Company, thereby launching BDC into the Perth community through a well-designed series of workshops, master classes and interactions. Battery and Buzz have much in common, not the least aspect of which is the fact that Buzz's General Manager at the time had served as Battery's Managing Director from 1996 - 1999! The staffs of Buzz Dance Theatre and Playhouse Theatre were extremely professional, courteous, efficient and gracious. Battery experienced no major problems or challenges in presenting its work to good effect. We were delighted to meet Nanette Hassall, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Dance Department and a former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York; as well as Justin Rutzou, Buzz Board Member and Lecturer in Dance at the University, Lucette Aldous, acclaimed ballerina (former dance partner of Nureyev's) who teaches ballet at WAAPA and Reyes de Lara, Coordinator of Contemporary Dance. Ron Banks, Arts Editor for The West Australian, printed a very favorable review of our performance with laudatory comments for both Buzz and Battery. A full-page feature and photo appeared in the West Australian on Wednesday, our opening day. We understand that Buzz has had a very hard time getting attention from Mr. Banks in the past, so Battery's presence seems to have had a good impact for Buzz as well – their generosity paid off. Each of the six performances presented on Wednesday - Friday were marketed primarily to high school audiences. Several leaders of Australia's arts-in-education movement were in attendance. The performances were a mixed bill with Battery Dance as the first half and Buzz Dance Theatre as the second. Buzz premiered a new work called "PreTender". There was a significant amount of contrast between the two companies' works -- with "PreTender" being a stylized dance-theater piece with a sound score, contrasting with the more abstract nature of Battery's "Notebooks", and the vaudevillian quality of "Used Car Salesman". Sitting in the house for the first four performances, I never felt the audience flagging. They stayed engaged throughout and accorded loud cheers of ovation for each work and every one of the dancers. Each performance ended with a bow by all the dancers of Buzz and Battery on stage intermingled together, and a Question & Answer session with the audience. The first day of performances was followed by a lecture/panel discussion hosted by the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia in which Jonathan was a guest speaker. Attendance was highly engaged but sparse due to a University-wide strike that day protesting government budget cuts. On the second day, the entire Battery Company was invited to attend "Dangerous Liaisons,” the new production staged by West Australian Ballet at His Majesty's Theater after one of the master classes. We enjoyed seeing the wonderful dancers, beautiful costumes and lighting, and it was useful to get a perspective of what this esteemed classical company is serving up to Perth audiences. The company enjoyed a great dinner and good spirits lavished by the U.S. Consul General and her husband. The Company was given a wonderful uplift from the senior USG diplomat in Perth and is very grateful for such a show of friendship and support. Both of Saturday’s performances were attended by full houses (450) and accorded the strongest ovations of the entire week (which is saying a lot!). We were overwhelmed by the generosity and warmth extended to our company by the entire Buzz team, from the administrators to the dancers, designers and tech team. This was truly a great example of international friendship through the arts. We hope to reciprocate by organizing a New York engagement for Buzz in the near future. The quality of their work certainly deserves to be seen by American audiences, in schools and on stage.