Korea, Republic of


Busan, South Korea

Busan, Korea, Republic of

Dates

  • January 23-31, 2015

    Sponsors

  • US Embassy Seoul
  • American Presence Post

    Project Activities

  • 1 Public Performances – Over 1000 Audience Members
  • Dancing to Connect workshops with North Korean defectors and their South Korean counterparts; creatively transforming teenage residents of an orphanage; a high school show choir; and a group of young working women from international backgrounds.

    Partners

  • Dongseo University
  • Busan Foundation for International Activities
  • Westin Chosun Busan Hotel

    Venues

  • Sohyang Musical Theatre

    Articles

  • Article for Busan Haps

  • Strong and durable partnerships and alignment of goals are key to achieving great results in the conducting of international projects. In Busan, we found that honest and respectful relationships between individuals allowed for candid communication and a true dialogue. Alignment of goals between the parties -- in this case, the US Embassy in Seoul, the American Presence Post in Busan, local academic and social institutions and Battery Dance Company -- created a feeling of joint-ownership of the project, leading to the flow of resources. Among many examples, we were non-plussed when the technical director at the magnificent Sohyang Musical Theater said, "Would you like an extra day for us to start hanging the lights?" This was an offer that we hadn't presumed to expect and a first in 20+ years of working internationally. Icing on the cake: Our production designer was not happy with the lighting board in the theater and had mentioned that another model would be more appropriate for a pre-cued dance performance. Presto: the better board was sourced and provided, resulting in an impeccably lit performance, which was to everyone's benefit.

    Six months of planning for our second program in South Korea set the groundwork for a program that left us with a feeling of "mission accomplished" and more! The essence of the program and the factor that differentiated it from our 2008 program in Busan was the implementation of four Dancing to Connect workshops over a span of 20 hours. The composition of each group was distinctive and challenged the Battery Dance Company teaching artists to craft the approach accordingly:

    • Group I: Mixed group of North Korean defectors with their South Korean counterparts
    • Group II: Residents of an orphanage, primarily boys
    • Group III: Members of a high school show choir
    • Group IV: Young adult women of various nationalities mixed with their South Korean counterparts

    Groups I and II commuted to their workshop locations each day, adding extra hours and exhaustion to their work; especially Group II which was located in a village located some distance away from Busan (1 - 2 hours, depending upon traffic.) Groups III and IV were provided with studio space by Sohyang University, beautiful studios with wooden floors and ample space (and a short distance from our hotel.)

    Group I was initially split down the middle, with the South Korean teens much more self-confident, mature, and physically stronger than the defectors. The North Koreans appeared shy and reticent and clung to each other and their counselors. However, over the course of the week, the differences began to melt away and in the performance, audience members commented that they couldn't differentiate. This group was the center of much media attention, with cameras present for much of the workshop time.

    Seoul, South Korea

    Seoul, Korea, Republic of

    Dates

  • April 11 – 19, 2008

    Sponsors

    Project Activities

    • 7 Master Classes
    • One Panel Discussion with a Q&A
    • One Joint Performance with Korean Dance Association in Seoul
    • One Performance Kyungsung University, Busan
    • One Performance Gangnam District Hall, Seoul, South Korea

    Partners

    Venues

  • Bringing a dance program to a country with such highly accomplished dancers and dance training institutions as South Korea requires special attention. You don't want to feel that you are bringing "coals to Newcastle", being redundant, and certainly not arrogant.

    On the other hand, it was truly surprising for us to hear our Korean counterparts complaining that American dance has been absent from the scene in Korea for a dozen years, having been so pivotal and inspiring in earlier times. As such, we felt very much appreciated and that our decision to pitch to a high level for our master classes and performances was the right decision.

    Once upon a time, one of my mentors, Twyla Tharp, named a piece "Sue's Leg". She said that every time her company toured in the Mid-West and hit the territory that was covered by

    Suzanne Weil (who went on to run the dance program of the National Endowment for the Arts) it was pure bliss because everything ran like clockwork. Taking a cue from Twyla, we've got to title a piece "Dae-young's Wing", because we were certainly under Kim Dae-young's in Busan!

    How can it be that we could have had innumerable meetings, logged in many kilometers shuttling between three different venues, run a half-dozen master classes, meetings and interactions, dealt with a 13-hour time difference and 20+ hours of traveling and simultaneously felt like we were on vacation? We came into contact with wonderfully open and receptive dance teachers at Kyungsung University, Dong A University and Busan Arts High School and their talented charges -- all 150 of them who took part in 4 master classes taught on one day (a BDC specialty, since each of the dancers is a teaching artist as well!). The first performance of this year’s Asia Tour was exhilarating. Barry Steele, BDC’s great production designer, worked like a fiend in the theater, ably supported by John Lee and Kim Chi-young and a crew whom he said was one of the finest he has encountered on tour.

    If you were a dancer or dance student in the 18-24 age range in Busan, our performance at Kyungsung University's very nice auditorium was evidently the place-to-be on Tuesday evening! I was amazed as the crowd flooded into the auditorium to see such a young audience. Obviously the master classes were the best possible marketing tool since it seemed as if, of the 150 or so students who took part in the classes, maybe 149 showed up to our performance?! Given the young crowd, I assumed that "I'll Take You There", with its goofy cartoonish style would be the hit of the evening. Not so. The fans waiting outside the dancers' dressing rooms after the show told me that "Notebooks" was their favorite. Later, at the reception, I heard a lot of buzz around "Shell Games"; and at breakfast the next morning, Mayuna told me that she heard "Moonbeam" praised for its purity. My conclusion: a varied repertoire travels well!

    It is interesting how I always find myself drawn to the beauty of Asian countries, their food, traditions and their way of living. There is something pure, completely real and precious in the soil here. As we are leaving South Korea, a country that I visited for the first time (and hopefully not last), I am left with much to remember. Most importantly, I am both personally and professionally inspired. Though both performances were received with great audience reviews, the true highlights of our stay here in Korea were (was it 12?) Master classes taught by members of the Company. I was most impressed by the openness, artistic hunger and ability of the students in both Arts High Schools in Busan and Seoul as well as the Universities where we taught. I can say that with all of my extensive international teaching experiences, I have never been so impressed by the talent of the students as well as the work done. It leaves me wondering how much more could be accomplished, if we could only stay longer… Or return soon! I must thank the American Embassy and its staff for understanding the true value and importance of such cultural exchange. But this should be just the beginning. Let’s not be satisfied with what has been done here, pat ourselves on the shoulder for what we’ve done, but rather start building a cultural bridge with constant exchange.

    South Korea 2008

    Seoul, South Korea
    Busan, South Korea

    Busan, South Korea

    Busan, Korea, Republic of

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed her in 2008.


    Varied repertoire travels well

    There is usually 'favorite' performances amongst audiences on International tours. However in Busan, there were several favorites in the varied repertoire that BDC presented at the Kyungsung University Auditorium. This lesson has proved valuable in future tours.

    Once upon a time, one of my mentors, Twyla Tharp, named a piece "Sue's Leg". She said that every time her company toured in the Mid-West and hit the territory that was covered by Suzanne Weil (who went on to run the dance program of the National Endowment for the Arts) it was pure bliss because everything ran like clockwork. Taking a cue from Twyla, we've got to title a piece "Dae-young's Wing", because we were certainly under Kim Dae-young's in Busan!

    How can it be that we could have had innumerable meetings, logged in many kilometers shuttling between three different venues, run a half-dozen master classes, meetings and interactions, dealt with a 13-hour time difference and 20+ hours of traveling and simultaneously felt like we were on vacation?

    We came into contact with wonderfully open and receptive dance teachers at Kyungsung University, Dong A University and Busan Arts High School and their talented charges -- all 150 of them who took part in 4 master classes taught on one day (a BDC specialty, since each of the dancers is a teaching artist as well!). The first performance of this year’s Asia Tour was exhilarating. Barry Steele, BDC’s great production designer, worked like a fiend in the theater, ably supported by John Lee and Kim Chi-young and a crew whom he said was one of the finest he has encountered on tour.

    If you were a dancer or dance student in the 18-24 age range in Busan, our performance at Kyungsung University's very nice auditorium was evidently the place-to-be on Tuesday evening! I was amazed as the crowd flooded into the auditorium to see such a young audience. Obviously the master classes were the best possible marketing tool since it seemed as if, of the 150 or so students who took part in the classes, maybe 149 showed up to our performance?! Given the young crowd, I assumed that "I'll Take You There", with its goofy cartoonish style would be the hit of the evening. Not so. The fans waiting outside the dancers' dressing rooms after the show told me that "Notebooks" was their favorite. Later, at the reception, I heard a lot of buzz around "Shell Games"; and at breakfast the next morning, Mayuna told me that she heard "Moonbeam" praised for its purity. My conclusion: a varied repertoire travels well!

    It is interesting how I always find myself drawn to the beauty of Asian countries, their food, traditions and their way of living. There is something pure, completely real and precious in the soil here. As we are leaving South Korea, a country that I visited for the first time (and hopefully not last), I am left with much to remember. Most importantly, I am both personally and professionally inspired. Though both performances were received with great audience reviews, the true highlights of our stay here in Korea were (was it 12?) Master classes taught by members of the Company. I was most impressed by the openness, artistic hunger and ability of the students in both Arts High Schools in Busan and Seoul as well as the Universities where we taught. I can say that with all of my extensive international teaching experiences, I have never been so impressed by the talent of the students as well as the work done. It leaves me wondering how much more could be accomplished, if we could only stay longer… Or return soon! I must thank the American Embassy and its staff for understanding the true value and importance of such cultural exchange. But this should be just the beginning. Let’s not be satisfied with what has been done here, pat ourselves on the shoulder for what we’ve done, but rather start building a cultural bridge with constant exchange.

    South Korea 2008

    Seoul, South Korea
    Busan, South Korea