Battery Dance Company worked June - July 2008.
Most of the schools selected for participation in the program were characterized by high minority and immigrant populations and the majority were from the lower tiers of Germany’s rigorously tracked educational system. In addition, for the first time this year, students from two schools serving visually and/or learning disabled children were included. A mark of the success of this approach came from the response of Christoph Haenel, Deputy Director of the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung who remarked that the various groups who performed in the Stuttgart event showed „no evident gap between the Hauptschule and the Gymnasium!“
In Stuttgart, BDC dancer Robin Cantrell led the German-American Dance-Workshop “Dancing to Connect” at the Untertürkheimer Luginsland School. Collectively with the American professional dancers the students choreograph a dance themselves. They will be performing this dance at the opening event of “American Days” on June, 26 2008 in the Wilhelma Theater for invited guests. According to Friederike Schulte, the Program Specialist at the German-American Center in Stuttgart, approximately 15 Stuttgart schools applied for this project in March. During the selection process it was valued that all school types are represented.
For 6 days 7th and 9th grade students from the Luginsland School have rehearsed for their big day. Therefore they train 5 hours daily in the gymnasium. Communication problems between the students and English speaking dance instructors only existed on the first day. When Robin Cantrell described communication with the students, she said: ”Dancing is movement, it is a language through movement”. In an emergency or if necessary one of the teachers jumps in as a translator.
Initially the dance instructor explained that the students were scared to mess up when learning a new dance step. That is what modern dance is all about, creatively expressing oneself. The instructors simply advised the students to simulate the movements of a soccer player or of feelings. The translation of a dance movement is alone the student’s job. Ninth grade student Vera Cristina Monteiro da Silva thought it was great that the students were allowed to actively participate in the choreography of the dances.
“This is how school should always be”, stated the enthusiastic Detlef Schmidt-Glöckler, principal of Luginsland School. He has always hoped that his students could make positive news some day. Through the dance project “Dancing to Connect” his wish should be fulfilled.
The Opening of the American Days Festival in Stuttgart was celebrated through two full-house performances at the historic Wilhelma Theater. Various dignitaries spoke to the audience prior to the performance including the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart and Consul General Jo Ellen Powell, who pleased the crowd by speaking in German as well as in English.