Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in connection with its program in Pretoria.
Partnerships & Venues
For Lessons Learned in Johannesburg, see Lessons Learned in Cape Town.
Four of the Battery Dance Company artists were programmed in the Johannesburg area, two conducting Dancing to Connect workshops with teens and young adults and one teaching master classes at the National School of the Arts and the University of Pretoria. Each experience had its own character – strong and full of new discoveries. Artistic Director Jonathan Hollander split his time between Jo’burg and Pretoria, supporting the DtC programs as well as reaching out to media, peer and academic contacts and speaking on arts management. Each of the three Dancing to Connect groups created a new piece of choreography that was performed at the Breytenbach Theatre in Pretoria on the final evening of the Gauteng program.
Moving in to Dance Mophatong
Newtown, an area adjacent to central Johannesburg, has fallen into disrepute and is slated for redevelopment. Arts organizations such as Market Theatre and Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM) are situated there, providing a cultural anchor for the renovation plan. MIDM was started in 1978, during the Apartheid era by Sylvia “Magogo” Glasser, a woman of Jewish background. Daring for its time, MIDM always served a multi-racial population. Over time, its conservatory-type training program has produced some of South Africa’s most acclaimed choreographers and dancers. A BDC teaching artist worked with a group of 24 first-year students and soon discovered that the group was not only keen to learn but quite advanced in their technical and creative prowess. She was able to move along in the DtC curriculum at a rapid pace, doling out much more material each day than is usual.
Sibikwa Arts Centre
Benoni South is the home of Sibikwa Arts Center where a BDC teaching artist worked with 20 youth, ages 16 – 22. The students were hyper-energized and unaccustomed to a rigorous, immersive program like DtC – however, they pulled it together and delivered beautifully in the end. One young dancer stood out as a prodigy. We hope that the exposure to DtC helped provide him with new ideas about a career path.
National Arts School
Battery Dance taught a sequence of master classes and creative workshops for students at the National School of the Arts. The student population at the school was noteworthy for being inclusive of all ethnicities, whereas the other programs we worked with in SA were almost exclusively Black. The students were also of mixed backgrounds in terms of prior training – some had advanced ballet technique, speaking to years of prior training. Others were less schooled in classical technique but possessed obvious natural talent and were progressing swiftly, especially in the modern and creative arenas.
University of Pretoria
Jonathan Hollander gave a lecture on arts management for the performing arts management course in the Drama Faculty of the University of Pretoria. Approximately 20 students attended and took part in a Q/A session following the lecture. This activity at the University led to an invitation for BDC to run a dance workshop for theater majors the next day. Battery dance teaching artists led a 2-hour workshop with a group of highly motivated performing arts majors who normally take a dance class once-a-week with Anitra Davel (back row, red tank top), a freelance choreographer, dancer and dance teacher, who gamely took the class with her students. Anitra and Jonathan engaged in a discussion about conditions for professional dancers in South Africa following the class.