Strong and durable partnerships and alignment of goals are key to achieving great results in the conducting of international projects. In Busan, we found that honest and respectful relationships between individuals allowed for candid communication and a true dialogue. Alignment of goals between the parties -- in this case, the US Embassy in Seoul, the American Presence Post in Busan, local academic and social institutions and Battery Dance Company -- created a feeling of joint-ownership of the project, leading to the flow of resources. Among many examples, we were non-plussed when the technical director at the magnificent Sohyang Musical Theater said, "Would you like an extra day for us to start hanging the lights?" This was an offer that we hadn't presumed to expect and a first in 20+ years of working internationally. Icing on the cake: Our production designer was not happy with the lighting board in the theater and had mentioned that another model would be more appropriate for a pre-cued dance performance. Presto: the better board was sourced and provided, resulting in an impeccably lit performance, which was to everyone's benefit.
Six months of planning for our second program in South Korea set the groundwork for a program that left us with a feeling of "mission accomplished" and more! The essence of the program and the factor that differentiated it from our 2008 program in Busan was the implementation of four Dancing to Connect workshops over a span of 20 hours. The composition of each group was distinctive and challenged the Battery Dance Company teaching artists to craft the approach accordingly:
Groups I and II commuted to their workshop locations each day, adding extra hours and exhaustion to their work; especially Group II which was located in a village located some distance away from Busan (1 - 2 hours, depending upon traffic.) Groups III and IV were provided with studio space by Sohyang University, beautiful studios with wooden floors and ample space (and a short distance from our hotel.)
Group I was initially split down the middle, with the South Korean teens much more self-confident, mature, and physically stronger than the defectors. The North Koreans appeared shy and reticent and clung to each other and their counselors. However, over the course of the week, the differences began to melt away and in the performance, audience members commented that they couldn't differentiate. This group was the center of much media attention, with cameras present for much of the workshop time.