Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005.
There was some confusion regarding local expenses and whether hotel accommodations had been pre-paid by the sponsors. Luckily, the dancer working in Beirut happened to take some cash with her. It is advisable to receive hotel accommodation confirmations and payment receipts prior to departing for the country.
The BDC dancer was unsure about how to list the purpose of her visit and was subsequently detained for two hours at the airport until the matter was resolved. Be sure to explain to all travelers what they official purpose of their visit is and make sure that matches with whatever visa was acquired.
In 2005, BDC sent Lydia Tetzlaff to teach dance to a large cross-section of dancers based in classical ballet, contemporary and modern dance techniques. Her goals were to teach both aspiring dancers and non-dancers new techniques that are otherwise unavailable to them, and to open much needed lines of cross cultural communication between America and Lebanon.
BDC follows the belief that dance is a special vehicle for this kind of sharing and communication as it is in the arts and human to human interaction, that perceived boundaries and stereotypes can be dissolved and overcome. This was evident in Lebanon.
In Lebanon, BDC's goals were met beautifully- the entire trip was more successful and rewarding than BDC could have hoped for. Lydia taught up to 50 students of extremely diverse religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
In Beirut, Battery Dance taught for two professional companies, Maqamat Dance Theatre and Caracalla Dance Company, as well as for the school of Caracalla. Maqamat is directed by Omar Rajeh, a former member of Caracalla, and a professional dancer. Most of the company members were predominately actors, and lacked much formal dance training. Lydia taught a Contemporary/ Modern class for about 15 Lebanese dancers, focusing on strengthening their technique and emphasizing freedom of movement. Caracalla is a firmly established professional dance company directed by Alissar Caracalla, and is arguably the most significant in the entire Middle East Region. Lydia taught two Contemporary/ Modern classes for the company (with approximately 25 dancers in each class), as well as two classes for the school (approximately 20 dancers in each class).
The professional dancers were at a highly advanced level, approximately half Lebanese and half from other countries. BDC dancer, Lydia was able to offer the students and company new techniques and approaches to movement which they ordinarily would have had no exposure to.
As for the reactions to the program, they were amazing and powerful. Every student, teacher and organizer expressed sincere gratitude for Lydia's coming, as well as strong and numerous invitations for BDC to return on a regular basis for more and longer programs.
Lydia said that the benefits she received personally and professionally on this trip are more than she could express in words. Both the richness of the cultures with which she interacted as well as the hospitality that she received has given her insight into and understanding of people that she probably never would have experienced otherwise. It deepened her desire to learn and listen more, and to judge less. It deepened her belief that from one side of the world to the next people are people, and we can create substantial peace just by sitting down with someone we perceive as vastly different from ourselves and engaging in conversation. Professionally, Lydia will use this experience to inform her performances and classes in the future. She has a strong desire to be programmed through Dancing to Connect as much as possible, both to return to Lebanon and to other areas of the world.