Each year since 2005, Battery Dance Company has conducted a melange of arts education programs and performances in Germany. What began as a very focused, on-off project in Baden-Wurttemberg, developed into a multi-tiered program that spread to five German Federal States.
Successful programs often breed opportunities for follow-on activities, especially when personal relationships have been built with local sponsors and community leaders.
When on-site rehearsal time is anticipated to be very limited, extensive background communication and research is helpful in order to foresee any problems well in advance and resolve them beforehand.
Plan itineraries well in advance and think imaginatively about ways to shoe-horn programs onto other tours. The expense of conducting the Breisach program would have been too high, had it not been grafted on to a previously scheduled Asia Tour, using the Frankfurt Airport as a hub.
On June 23rd, Battery Dance Company returned to Breisach, the city where it had staged the acclaimed “Dances for the Blue House” in 2006, to participate in the 10th Anniversary commemorating the opening of the Blue House as a living memorial to the Jews of Breisach. Seven members of the Company participated – 5 performers, artistic director and technical director.
Three events took place in close succession before an audience estimated at 200. First, a series of site-specific performances were presented within 5 rooms of the Blue House:
• a community room on the ground floor where a BDC dancer performed along with musician Thomas Wenk (resident of Breisach, professor of music at the Freiburg Conservatory)
• A prayer room in which dossiers of Jewish families are stored in a wooden ‘ark’
• A study room where the recently deceased Cantor, Ralph Eisenmann, had prepared his sermons
• The former bedroom of Eisenmann and his wife, where a rock came through the window, a precursor to the events that were to follow in the Nazi movement
• A small kitchen where the audience watched the dancer and reader from the open doorway.
The audience was asked to form a ‘silent procession’ and filed through the rooms, following a pathway that was marked on the floor with colored tape. There were readers in each room who recited passages from texts included as an addendum to this report. After the audience had filed out of the house and seated itself on chairs and benches that had been placed on the closed-off street and in the shade of a large tree, the dancers dashed out of the house. They had changed from their cream-colored silk costumes into brightly colored “rain suits” and ran around the side yard of the Blue House, climbed a scaffolding, and ceremoniously unwrapped the plastic sheeting covering a newly installed sculpture created by German artist Heike Endemann. While the audience took respite in the garden of the Blue House, with cakes and coffee, the Battery Dance Company team was transported to the Breisgau Halle where the Company’s tech director had been working all day with local crew on preparing the stage, lighting and sound for a full-fledged performance. At 7 pm, the performance took place, featuring a new work, “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost” by Polish choreographer Jacek Luminski and two segments from “AUTOBIOGRAPHICA”. Introductory remarks were given by the Public Affairs Officer of the Consulate General Frankfurt and by Battery Dance Company Artistic Director. The audience included a huge span of generations with local children of under 10 years old all the way up to people in the 80’s. Jewish Holocaust survivors and families of survivors from Breisach came from as far away as the U.S., Switzerland, U.K., Israel and France. For them, the events had a special resonance. However, the local audience from Breisach and Freiburg, including 4 young adults who had participated in the original Dances for the Blue House and Dancing to Connect programs, as well as teachers from Freiburg schools who had coordinated the earlier programs, also attended and accorded powerful appreciation for all of the events.