Battery Dance Company makes its U.K. debut with a program comprising Dancing to Connect workshops and a performance at the Waterfront Belfast.
Getting Through Customs
Upon arriving at Belfast International Airport and after explaining the purpose of our visit, we were briefly held-up by immigration officers (who were extremely friendly and nice) as they checked that we had the necessary permits for our performance. Although you do not require a visa to travel for tourism, you do need a visa for commercial purposes, and at the airport 'amateur' means non-profit, and 'professional' means for-profit. Luckily after verifying with our partners and sponsors that our workshops and performance were free of charge, we were allowed to proceed. Be sure to check visa rules prior to your travel to Belfast, to use the correct terminology in reference to your work, and to carry sponsor/partner telephone numbers in-case verfication is necessary.
Getting Around the City
Taxis are relatively cheap but they cannot be hailed from the street. You can only pickup a taxi at either taxi stands, by asking for one at a taxi dispatch office located in the city, or by calling a taxi-dispatch service. If you're travelling to Belfast during a time of very high tension , be sure to have two taxi dispatch service numbers readily available: one for travel to Protestant areas and one for travel to Catholic areas. While taxis are free to operate in any area, they have be used as an easy target for attack in the past, although not recently. Also take note that many Peace Wall gates that allow access between some communities, close at 9pm. Overall, taxis are a very safe and affordable way of getting around the city.
Late Night Dinner
Restaurants close relatively early in Belfast. From Monday to Thursday many restaurants in the city center will close by 10pm and on Sunday they can close much earlier, if they are open at all. Just as in other major cities, be sure to make reservations for Friday and Saturday night dinner.
Northern Ireland uses the British Pound but has different versions of the currency: one version issued by the Bank of England and other versions issued by Northern Irish banks. While all versions are accepted in Northern Ireland, non-Bank of England notes may not be accepted in other parts of the United Kingdom. In addition, it may be more difficult to exchange non-Bank of England notes once outside of Northern Ireland. Be sure to convert any non-Bank of England notes to Bank of England notes prior to departing Northern Ireland.
YouthAction is a charitable organization in Belfast with a 70-year history of working with young people across religious and social divides. YA sourced the participants, who ranged in age from 14 – 19, as well as engaging teacher trainees in their early 20’s. This program was Battery Dance Company’s first in the U.K. and was built on the theme of mutual trust, incorporating students from both Catholic and Protestant communities which suffused the choreography created by the participants themselves. Peter McKittrick, Public Four workshops of 20+ hours each were conducted with students from a variety of schools around Belfast. Each day the students generated dance material of their own, guided by the BDC Teaching Artists and assisted by local trainees. An additional day of workshops was coordinated for two groups by Public Affairs Specialist Peter McKittrick, allowing participants to further refine their choreography. Choreography was assembly and eventually resulted in finished works of 8 – 10 minutes in length.
Four workshops of 20+ hours each were conducted with students from a variety of schools around Belfast. Each day the students generated dance material of their own, guided by the BDC Teaching Artists and assisted by local trainees. An additional day of workshops was coordinated for two groups by Public Affairs Specialist Peter McKittrick, allowing participants to further refine their choreography. Choreography was assembly and eventually resulted in finished works of 8 – 10 minutes in length.
A final performance was staged at the prestigious Waterfront, a new and popular theater complex located on the River Lagan, near the City Center. U.S. Consul General Gregory S. Burton attended with his wife and gave opening remarks. The performance was a standing-room-only event. Battery Dance Company performed three works from its repertoire and the 4 student groups presented their completed choreographies, with custom made projections that incorporated the natural and historical scenery from Belfast and Northern Ireland. The production received numerous curtain calls from an enthusiastic public audience that gave a standing ovation.
Belfast Playbill Insert