September 16 - 22, 2012
Partnerships & Venues
For Lessons Learned in Durban, see Lessons Learned in Cape Town.
Ekhaya MultiArts Centre
Located in KwaMashu, one of Durban’s oldest townships, Ekhaya MultiArts Center serves as a beacon for the arts. Ekhaya was launched with the purpose of empowering disadvantaged youth through the arts and multimedia. Chosen by the US Consulate in Durban as the local partner and host institution, Ekhaya enabled Battery Dance to interact with young people whose thirst for opportunities was palpable.
Dancing to Connect Workshops
The Dancing to Connect program was spearheaded by a BDC teaching artist who led a group of 12 youth for 5 hours a day for 4 days. Two other BDC teaching artists jointly led an extended creativity workshop with 18 students for 2 hours a day for 4 days. Despite complications in scheduling and communication, the choreography created by both groups of students was stunning.
Siwela Sonke Dance Company and Playhouse Theatre
BDC’s South African-born teaching artist Bafana Matea led a 3-day series of master classes at Siwela Sonke Dance Company with 12 dancers; and another series of classes at the Playhouse Theatre with local freelancers and the resident dance company. Concurrently with the dance workshops, BDC production designer was occupied with rebuilding the Ekhaya stage with the assistance of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate. Throughout the entire technical setup, the production designer was shadowed by the head technician at Ekaya receiving hands-on training on stage repair, lighting and sound design/setup, and the staging of a professional-level dance performance. BDC Deputy Director for International Programs met with Embassy staff and representatives of local NGO’s for a lunch meeting where shared passions, techniques and strategies for community engagement and ideas for future collaboration were exchanged.
A group of student drummers from Ekhaya were positioned at the front of the Center, outside, where they provided a steady percussion beat. Neighborhood children, some wearing no shoes, gathered around. Slowly, other members of the KwaMashu community also arrived at the Center, attracted by the sound of the drums and enticed to stay to see the free performance attended by the Consul General. The audience, obviously unaccustomed to a formal dance performance, was “enthusiastic”! After the performance, the U.S. Consulate provided a buffet dinner to all the participants and performance attendees. This post-performance reception was marked by an open intermingling of Embassy staff, local partners, township residents, media professionals, and the BDC team. Nearly 100 copies of the Durban poster were autographed by the BDC team prior to the performance and were handed out to eager fans after the show. Prior to performance, the Deputy Director of BDC's International Programs, a BDC dancer, and the Consul General conducted an interview on Vibe FM. Other media attention included a features in The Mercury, Sunday Tribune, local community newspaper also included Battery for Heritage Month and Celebrate Durban, Gagasi radio station (isi Zulu and English).