Battery Dance Company presented two performances as part of the 14th International Malta Festival. Because the Festival focuses on street theater, the performances were staged out-of-doors.
This Festival, like several others in Poland, becomes part of the fabric of the City. Events go on at unusual times (5 pm; midnight…) and in unusual places (courtyards, facades of buildings). To get into the spirit of the event, a visiting company has to adapt to the circumstances which are sometimes dangerous (dancing in the cold and rain) but tremendously rewarding given the strong integration with the public and other artists.
BDC has worked in Poland extensively and the special feeling of the performing arts in the Polish milieu is one which we understand and embrace. This means that there is a multi-generational audience, plenty of young people, and the audiences don’t dash for the exits before the show is over. They seem to savor the performances, extracting every drop – and discuss and argue over the value and meaning of everything they see during lengthy post-performance gatherings at clubs and cafes.
Be prepared for the special conditions that govern a festival. Decide in advance, with all members of the company, the rules of the game – who will make a decision if a performance is to be cancelled or curtailed in the middle – at what point does adventure become reckless endangerment. Having these issues agreed upon in advance will mitigate problems among the group when rain begins to fall or the temperature drops.
Battery Dance Company returned to Poland in June, 2004, with a team of 8 people: 6 dancers, artistic director and technical director. The Tour constituted Battery’s 6th visit to Poland since 1996. The raison d’être behind Battery’s 2004 tour was two-fold: to participate in the New New Yorkers Festival in Warsaw and the Malta Festival in Poznan; and to present “Secrets of the Paving Stones” and “Between Heaven & Earth”, two works that had been created over the previous months to music by the Craców Klezmer Band, for Polish audiences.
Our first performance at the 14th International Malta Festival took place on a special covered stage erected for us in the courtyard of the Zamek (castle). Cold weather was a hardship for the dancers, only somewhat offset by electric heaters in the changing tents on either side of the stage. However, they danced magnificently and were rewarded with a sensational response from the audience.
The next day thunder clouds blew in during the afternoon and there was torrential rain and lightning. Huddled in an arcade amongst the old central market square buildings in the old town, we thought….”not again!!!” We were determined to go on, but the temperature was also dropping fast (I think it must have been about 50 F by curtain time, with blustery winds and intermittent rain). A conference was held and our dancers, affected by the sight of the large and intrepid audience waiting patiently in the courtyard (without covering), decided to perform “Notebooks” and two solos (Sean's and Stevan's.) The extended applause from the drenched audience assured us that our efforts were appreciated.
I wish to express the entire Company’s appreciation to Izabella Szarek for her expert, sensitive and effective handling of our tour of Poland. We shall all miss Andy Koss and appreciate his vision and support. Magda Wacisz, Renata Czerw and Jolanta Kepinska were all involved in helping us in the preliminaries and on the ground for the tour in various respects, and we are deeply grateful to all of them.