Year » 2005


Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel
March 2005

Services & Venues:

  • Performance, Ennis Auditorium, Tel Aviv –Jaffa (Anis Auditorium, Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Master class, Levin Music School, Tel Aviv – Jaffa (Levine Music School, Tel Aviv – Jaffa)
  • Master classes at Arab-Jewish Community Center, Jaffa (Arab Jewish Community Center (Matnas))
  • Master class at Neve Eliezer Community Center, Tel Aviv ('Pais' Community Center)
  • Master class with Hed Big Band – Hed College for Contemporary Music and Jazz, Tel Aviv (מוזיאון תל אביב - קולנוע)
  • Master classes and lecture-performance at the Seminar Hakkibutzim (Seminar Hakibutsim)
  • Master classes at the Avizoor Dance School, Petach Tikva

    Sponsors

  • U.S. Department of State, Near East/Africa Bureau

  • U.S. Embassies, Citigroup

  • Take-aways & Social Issues:

    Some of our dancers encountered a political edge in their interactions with the college-aged Israeli students at the Seminar Hakkibutzim, once they learned that we had just come from programs in Jordan. The tensions between the Arab and Israelis is obviously very close to the surface and even a casual reference to Jordan can lead to controversy.

    On the other hand, our work at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa, with younger students mixed between Jews and Muslims, was completely devoid of tensions. The individuals in the mixed classes were indistinguishable in terms of ethnic/religious background and they worked very well together.

    This program prepared us for what was to be a second program in Israel, 6 years later, in which we worked with Israeli, Palestinian and German youth in mixed groups.

    Israel has a very advanced system of arts education, quite extraordinary for a country of its small size and population. Both our dancers and musicians enjoyed the interactions immensely with such a well-prepared, curious and talented group of students.

    The most challenging aspect of our program in Israel was the pre-tour stage. The Embassy didn’t begin the process of securing a theater until a couple of months before the tour. This was far too late given Israel’s high track dance scene. Fortunately, at the last minute, the FSN in Tel Aviv found Ennis Auditorium in Jaffa. This proved to be a boon – because the location allowed for the primarily Arab population of Jaffa as well as the Israelis to attend the performance, which was packed to the rafters.

    Israel 2005

    Tel Aviv, Israel
    Jaffa, Israel
    Petah Tikvah, Israel
    Haifa, Israel

    Jaffa, Israel

    Jaffa, Israel
    March 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005.


    Sponsors

  • U.S. Department of State, Near East/Africa Bureau

  • U.S. Embassies, Citigroup

  • Participants and instructors both offered interesting and insightful comments.

    Steven Novakovich at the Neve Eliezer Community Center in Tel Aviv: “This was a wonderful, art thriving, small local community center which is dedicated to providing the necessary art training for the youth in its area”.

    Mark Ferber at the workshop at the Levin School of Music, Tel Aviv-Jaffa. “This turned out to be a concert for the students at the school; it went very well with the students being very attentive and appreciative”.

    Frank Carlberg at the Levin Music School event in Tel Aviv. “Approximately 120 participants: nice atmosphere and warm reception”.

    Bafana Solomon Matea taught an Ethiopian dance company at the University of Haifa. “The company consisted of both men and women, in practically equal numbers. Jane Sato and I taught them a modern dance class, accompanied by our percussionist Mark Ferber”.

    Jane Sato danced in “Notebooks” performed at Ennis Auditorium, Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

    Israel 2005

    Tel Aviv, Israel
    Jaffa, Israel
    Petah Tikvah, Israel
    Haifa, Israel

    Petah Tikvah, Israel

    Petah Tikva, Israel
    March 2005

    Dates

  • March 27, 2005

    Sponsors

  • U.S. Department of State, Near East/Africa Bureau

  • U.S. Embassies, Citigroup

    Venues

  • Sarit Avizoor’s Dance Studio, Petach Tikva

    Services

  • Master Classes

  • Take-aways:

    Improvisation and calm in the face of last-minute schedule changes are valuable tools when touring! BDC’s teaching artists suspend judgment and usually offer more, not less, when on tour. The value of such an attitude was made clear when three of us hustled off to Petach Tikva, outside Tel Aviv, to teach back-to-back master classes. Our hearts warmed at the talent and high technical level of these teenagers whose passion for dance was immediately evident.

    Sean Scantlebury taught two hip-hop classes and John Byrne taught two modern classes, with the same students, divided into two groups of 25, switching places so that each one was able to take each type of class. The energy was palpable and the level of skill and diligence were immediately apparent. We enjoyed meeting Sarit and Sasi Avizoor, proprietors of the studio and talked about cooperation in the future.

    Israel 2005

    Tel Aviv, Israel
    Jaffa, Israel
    Petah Tikvah, Israel
    Haifa, Israel

    Amman, Jordan

    Amman, Jordan
    March 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005


    Dates:

  • March 16-26, 2005

    Venues:

  • Amman, Jordan

    Performances

  • 4 performances, Al Hussein Cultural Center (Address- Omar Matar Street)
  • Performance, The Arena, University of Amman (Address- Al Ahliyya Amman University)
  • Performance, University of Jordan (Address- Jordan University)

    Master Classes & Workshops

  • 2 master classes, Noor Al Hussein Foundation Performing Arts Center (Address- P.O. Box 926687, Amman)
  • Music master class, National Music Conservatory (Address- PO Box 9276687, Amman)
  • 2 master classes, 1 workshop, Arthur Murray Dance Studio (Address- Al-Kheir Building No: 24,Abdul Raheem Haj Mohammad Street

  • Take-aways: Multi-disciplinary projects are good! Incorporating musicians as well as dancers in a cultural diplomacy program allows an expanded outreach, particularly in a country such as Jordan where cultural norms present barriers for dance and not for music. We reached many different populations in Amman and saw progress and development from our first exposure in 2004. This is the other take-away -- repeated visits to a particular country multiply the impact exponentially. Achieving this goal, however, is problematic for performing arts groups because it is hard enough to get the support needed for one tour; but convincing the State Department and other funders to set aside money for repeated visits is much harder. The State Department, like all USG agencies, has a phobia against “sole sourcing” which means working with the same contractor (in this case, yes, you are a contractor) over and over again. Fortunately, some Foreign Service Officers who experience the growing effectiveness that derive from repeated visits embrace the added value -- but whether they are willing (or permitted by their superiors) to skirt the rules is another question.

    Cultural Adaptation: At the time that we visited Amman, it was thought necessary for us to adjust the women’s costumes – covering bare arms and legs. Our costume designer, Sole Salvo, handled this problem imaginatively without compromising the silhouette and impression of the costumes, by using silk chiffon to create sleeves in one case, and tights and/or unitards that maintained the body lines but covered the bare skin that would have offended some in the audience.

    Political Issues: 2005 was a difficult time to be performing as a representative of America in parts of the world where administration foreign policies met with grave opposition. Most of the time, we occupied a bubble of blamelessness – after all, we were artists and not politicians – but occasionally we ran into trouble. Our event at the University of Jordan stands out as the most blatant example: the auditorium was half-empty for a free lunch-time lecture demonstration that would ordinarily have been packed. During the Q/A with the audience, several students expressed their apologies for the lack of response on campus. They said that student groups had circulated flyers urging people to boycott our event as an expression of disapproval for the Bush Administration and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We were sad but understanding and appreciated the kindness and warmth shown by those who broke ranks to attend our performance.

    Bureaucracy: The obtaining of visas and performance licenses was facilitated by the very capable staff at the U.S. Embassy, so we encountered less issues than we would have expected in this conservative country.

    In 2005, BDC sent Lydia Tetzlaff to teach dance to a large cross-section of dancers based in classical ballet, contemporary and modern dance techniques. Her goals were to teach both aspiring dancers and non-dancers new techniques that are otherwise unavailable to them, and to open much needed lines of cross cultural communication between America and the Middle East.

    BDC's goals were met beautifully- the entire trip was more successful and rewarding than BDC could have hoped for. Lydia taught up to 50 students of extremely diverse religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

    Program Activities

    The overall format of the program was effective, and the scheduling was appropriate for the time allotted on this trip. Lydia taught three or four classes a day, and had two days off per week. Two weeks in Jordan was more or less sufficient, although she says that more time would have permitted her to work more intensively with each group. The responses she received from each group were that they would have appreciated quite a bit more time, and are all extremely interested in her returning for a continuation of the program.

    In Jordan Lydia spent most of the first week in Amman working with students of the Noor/Hussein Performing Arts Center under Director Lena Attel and Deputy Director Rania Kamhawi. They have an outstanding school where they train local students in dance and theater, and work directly with the community in order to expand the acceptance for and appreciation of the arts. Lydia taught 15 classes to Jordanian students ranging from 10-30 years of age. One thing of note is that the families of the students ordinarily do not allow their girls to take more than two classes per week, but Lydia had the older group for seven classes in the week's time. This was a testament to both their as well as Ms. Kamhawi's interest in Lydia being there as an American teacher from New York.

    Lydia taught 9 classes at the SOS villages in Amman and Aqaba, Jordan. The SOS villages are for orphan children of various ages and backgrounds, and they employ surrogate mothers to raise the children as their own, educating them and preparing them for a fulfilling life in society. They are wonderful, altruistic, non-governmental organizations that provide an unbelievable service for these children. They rely completely on private donations and volunteer services, and both had never received any dance classes before their experience with BDC. The children in Lydia's classes ranged in age from 5-10 in Amman and 6-26 in Aqaba. In all cases, their fascination for and appreciation of Lydia being there as an American was significant. Working these children goes a long way in opening communication and dispelling stereotyped misconceptions about Americans.

    In Amman, Lydia also worked with the Haya Cultural Center, a long-standing organization that has recently changed administrations. Due to this change there were some difficulties for Lydia in organizing the workshops. For instance, there had been a plan for Lydia to teach Iraqi UNHCR children, but it fell through in the administrative, changeover. Lydia was able to observe their class, and it was wonderful. The new General Director of Haya, Dina Abu Hamdan, also a former member of Caracalla for 10 years, is visionary, with a great desire and willingness for cooperative programs like Culture Connect. Haya offers local children a safe, enclosed environment in which to spend their summer days engaged in an assortment of activities. The result is a group of children enjoying the process of learning different artistic skills. With them, Lydia taught 5 classes of children ranging in age from 6-16.

    BDC's time in the Middle East received a good deal of press, including articles from two newspapers, One English and one Arabic, and an article in a new arts Magazine schedule for November 2015 in Amman.

    Assessment

    Lydia shares her reactions and reflections about her experience in Jordan

    I feel that the need for positive examples of American citizens is palpable, and everyone that I interacted with was eager for this kind of human interaction. Every student, teacher, and organizer expressed sincere gratitude for my coming, as well as strong and numerous invitations to return on a regular basis for more and longer programs. For the youngest children that I taught, they will have early positive memories of their 'American Teacher' that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. My hope and belief is that direct sensory impressions like this last longer and have more impact than any negative things that they may hear in other areas of their lives. The directors and dancers of Maqamat and Caracalla warmly and openly welcomed me as an American dancer and teacher to share the diversity of my career and background and expertise with them. Since they are both professional companies with significant exposure in the local media and society, the positive cultural effects of my interactions with them are huge, especially with my being an American in the current political climate across that part of the world. Building a continuing relationship with them through Culture Connect would be invaluable.

    The benefits that I received personally and professionally on this trip are more than I can express in words. Personally, both the richness of the cultures with which I interacted as well as the hospitality that I received has given me insight into and understanding of people that I probably never would experienced otherwise. It has deepened my desire to learn and listen more and to judge less. It has deepened my belief that from one side of the world to the next people are people, and that we can create substantial and lasting peace just by sitting down with someone we perceive as vastly different from ourselves and having an engaged conversation, or share a dance class. Professionally, I will take with me all that I have experienced and incorporate that experience into my performances and classes in the future. This has opened a feeling of possibility for me of which I was previously unaware. I have a strong desire to be programmed through Culture Connect as much as possible, both to return to the same areas where I have just been as well as go to other new areas in the world.

    Aqaba, Jordan

    Aqaba, Jordan
    March 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005.

    Please see Amman for details on BDC's trip to Jordan in 2005.


    Beirut, Lebanon

    Beirut, Lebanon
    June 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005. 


    Dates

  • June 2005

    Workshops/ Masterclasses

  • 2 x professional Contemporary/Modern dance, 25 students per class.
  • 2 x Contemporary class for local students, 20 students per class.

    Venues

  • Maqamat Dance Theatre
  • Caracalla Dance Company

  • Local Expenses

    There was some confusion regarding local expenses and whether hotel accommodations had been pre-paid by the sponsors. Luckily, the dancer working in Beirut happened to take some cash with her. It is advisable to receive hotel accommodation confirmations and payment receipts prior to departing for the country.

    Immigration

    The BDC dancer was unsure about how to list the purpose of her visit and was subsequently detained for two hours at the airport until the matter was resolved. Be sure to explain to all travelers what they official purpose of their visit is and make sure that matches with whatever visa was acquired.

    In 2005, BDC sent Lydia Tetzlaff to teach dance to a large cross-section of dancers based in classical ballet, contemporary and modern dance techniques. Her goals were to teach both aspiring dancers and non-dancers new techniques that are otherwise unavailable to them, and to open much needed lines of cross cultural communication between America and Lebanon.

    BDC follows the belief that dance is a special vehicle for this kind of sharing and communication as it is in the arts and human to human interaction, that perceived boundaries and stereotypes can be dissolved and overcome. This was evident in Lebanon.

    In Lebanon, BDC's goals were met beautifully- the entire trip was more successful and rewarding than BDC could have hoped for. Lydia taught up to 50 students of extremely diverse religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

    In Beirut, Battery Dance taught for two professional companies, Maqamat Dance Theatre and Caracalla Dance Company, as well as for the school of Caracalla. Maqamat is directed by Omar Rajeh, a former member of Caracalla, and a professional dancer. Most of the company members were predominately actors, and lacked much formal dance training. Lydia taught a Contemporary/ Modern class for about 15 Lebanese dancers, focusing on strengthening their technique and emphasizing freedom of movement. Caracalla is a firmly established professional dance company directed by Alissar Caracalla, and is arguably the most significant in the entire Middle East Region. Lydia taught two Contemporary/ Modern classes for the company (with approximately 25 dancers in each class), as well as two classes for the school (approximately 20 dancers in each class).

    The professional dancers were at a highly advanced level, approximately half Lebanese and half from other countries. BDC dancer, Lydia was able to offer the students and company new techniques and approaches to movement which they ordinarily would have had no exposure to.

    As for the reactions to the program, they were amazing and powerful. Every student, teacher and organizer expressed sincere gratitude for Lydia's coming, as well as strong and numerous invitations for BDC to return on a regular basis for more and longer programs.

    Lydia said that the benefits she received personally and professionally on this trip are more than she could express in words. Both the richness of the cultures with which she interacted as well as the hospitality that she received has given her insight into and understanding of people that she probably never would have experienced otherwise. It deepened her desire to learn and listen more, and to judge less. It deepened her belief that from one side of the world to the next people are people, and we can create substantial peace just by sitting down with someone we perceive as vastly different from ourselves and engaging in conversation. Professionally, Lydia will use this experience to inform her performances and classes in the future. She has a strong desire to be programmed through Dancing to Connect as much as possible, both to return to Lebanon and to other areas of the world.

    Perth, Australia

    Perth, Australia
    May 2005

    This 8-day chapter of Battery Dance Company's Asia Tour was hosted by Buzz Dance Theatre, Western Australia's only professional contemporary dance company and one of Australia's only dance companies that targets young audiences through performances, workshops, master classes and festivals.


    Dates

  • May 30 - June 6, 2005

    Sponsors

    Project Activities

    • 8 Performances at the Playhouse Theatre, total audience of approximately 2700
    • 3 Master classes (1 at WAPAA, 2 at King Street Arts Center)
    • 1 Discussion/Interaction with Dance Majors at WAPAA
    • 1 lecture at the University of Western Australia

    Partnerships

    • Ausdance
    • Strut Dancers Collective

    Venues

  • Collaborating with a known entity

    In this case, an Australian dance company with shared values – is a big step towards a successful outcome.

    Keep track of your alumnae

    Battery Dance Company’s Managing Director moved back to Australia, joined Buzz Dance Theatre, and organized our Australian Debut program.

    For each of the Perth performances, Buzz shared its audiences and half of the program with Battery Dance Company, thereby launching BDC into the Perth community through a well-designed series of workshops, master classes and interactions. Battery and Buzz have much in common, not the least aspect of which is the fact that Buzz's General Manager at the time had served as Battery's Managing Director from 1996 - 1999! The staffs of Buzz Dance Theatre and Playhouse Theatre were extremely professional, courteous, efficient and gracious. Battery experienced no major problems or challenges in presenting its work to good effect. We were delighted to meet Nanette Hassall, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Dance Department and a former member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in New York; as well as Justin Rutzou, Buzz Board Member and Lecturer in Dance at the University, Lucette Aldous, acclaimed ballerina (former dance partner of Nureyev's) who teaches ballet at WAAPA and Reyes de Lara, Coordinator of Contemporary Dance. Ron Banks, Arts Editor for The West Australian, printed a very favorable review of our performance with laudatory comments for both Buzz and Battery. A full-page feature and photo appeared in the West Australian on Wednesday, our opening day. We understand that Buzz has had a very hard time getting attention from Mr. Banks in the past, so Battery's presence seems to have had a good impact for Buzz as well – their generosity paid off. Each of the six performances presented on Wednesday - Friday were marketed primarily to high school audiences. Several leaders of Australia's arts-in-education movement were in attendance. The performances were a mixed bill with Battery Dance as the first half and Buzz Dance Theatre as the second. Buzz premiered a new work called "PreTender". There was a significant amount of contrast between the two companies' works -- with "PreTender" being a stylized dance-theater piece with a sound score, contrasting with the more abstract nature of Battery's "Notebooks", and the vaudevillian quality of "Used Car Salesman". Sitting in the house for the first four performances, I never felt the audience flagging. They stayed engaged throughout and accorded loud cheers of ovation for each work and every one of the dancers. Each performance ended with a bow by all the dancers of Buzz and Battery on stage intermingled together, and a Question & Answer session with the audience. The first day of performances was followed by a lecture/panel discussion hosted by the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia in which Jonathan was a guest speaker. Attendance was highly engaged but sparse due to a University-wide strike that day protesting government budget cuts. On the second day, the entire Battery Company was invited to attend "Dangerous Liaisons,” the new production staged by West Australian Ballet at His Majesty's Theater after one of the master classes. We enjoyed seeing the wonderful dancers, beautiful costumes and lighting, and it was useful to get a perspective of what this esteemed classical company is serving up to Perth audiences. The company enjoyed a great dinner and good spirits lavished by the U.S. Consul General and her husband. The Company was given a wonderful uplift from the senior USG diplomat in Perth and is very grateful for such a show of friendship and support. Both of Saturday’s performances were attended by full houses (450) and accorded the strongest ovations of the entire week (which is saying a lot!). We were overwhelmed by the generosity and warmth extended to our company by the entire Buzz team, from the administrators to the dancers, designers and tech team. This was truly a great example of international friendship through the arts. We hope to reciprocate by organizing a New York engagement for Buzz in the near future. The quality of their work certainly deserves to be seen by American audiences, in schools and on stage.

    Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia 2005

    Perth, Australia
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    May 2005

    Dates

  • May 27 - 29, 2005

    Sponsors

    Project Services

    • 3 Performances
    • 1 Solo Performance
    • 2 Master classes
    • Q&A with students of the National Academy of the Arts

    Partnerships

    • Ramli Ibrahim of Sutra Foundation
    • Soka Gakkai Malaysia

    Venues

    • Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel
    • Sutra Dance Theatre
    • Soka Gakkai Malaysia Auditorium in Cheras
  • Picking the right partners

    I had known the Odissi dancer Ramli Ibrahim for many years from his visits to New York that were organized by my close friend, the legendary Indian classical dancer and teacher Indrani Rehman. I had extended Battery Dance Company as an umbrella in sponsoring Ramli’s visa on one of those early visits and our studio for his rehearsals. As such, it was natural that I would ask him to be a partner and/or reference when I approached the U.S. Embassy in KL. Little did I realize how much resonance his name would have. I can still remember the PAO at the Embassy saying, “You know RAMLI?? He is the most celebrated dancer in Malaysia!” With a small staff and in the bad old days after the demise of the USIA (when Foreign Service Officers could actually receive negative evaluations if they strayed too far into the area of cultural programming), our program had been somewhat in doubt until that pivotal moment. My advice is to be open-minded and encourage your local liaison(s) to think creatively in problem-solving. Our problem in this case being that the only theaters that had the facilities and floor necessary for a performance of our size were already booked or too expensive. What was required was a good theater that would produce us and not charge the Embassy for rental, tech crew, etc. -- otherwise, the amount of money allocated for our travel and maintenance would go instead to local rental costs. The Embassy team was creative and resourceful: they approached the SGM (Soka Gakkai Malaysia), a Buddhist organization that had its own huge theater. Buddhism in a Muslim country? A religious organization as a sponsor for a secular performance? Attracting a mainstream audience in a suburban area? All the questions turned out to be irrelevant. Partnering with SGM was a stroke of genius. We had all the support we could have asked for in the way of tech crew, equipment, staging and so forth -- and we could barely fit our invited guests who came out from ASWARA, the Embassy and our hospitality sponsors, the Renaissance Hotel because the 1200-seat auditorium was packed to the rafters.

    Morning and Afternoon workshops

    Jonathan Hollander engaged the students in a 20-minute introduction, describing the programs, activities and history of the Battery Dance Company and answering questions posed by the students. A BDC dancer taught two master classes for students from the National Academy supplemented by dancers from the Temple of Fine Arts, Sutra Dance Theatre, and two national folk ensembles. Although the class size had been limited to 30 students per session approximately 75 students participated. The first session consisted of a Pilates-based sequence of stretching, centering and strengthening exercises. Some of the students were familiar with the methodology, but for most, it was a first exposure. The students followed well and put in a great effort. There was a wide range of ability in the room but all stayed focused and determined. After lunch and informal conversations with some of the students, a 90-minute modern dance class was conducted. The elementary level of the students was more apparent in this segment in which basic across-the-floor and adagio phrases were taught. The energy and enthusiasm of the students more than made up for their basic level of mastery. Following the modern class, the students of the Academy performed a traditional Malaysian dance, which was exquisite and touching. The BDC teaching artist who had led the earlier classes performed a solo to great appreciation from the students. Her popularity with the students was evidenced at the show at SGM Auditorium two nights later with whoops and hollers from the audience when it was her turn to receive an award. BDC Tech Director Barry Steele worked on lighting/tech issues for the 3 performances the company would give on the 26, 27 and 28.

    Performance at Sutra Dance Theatre

    BDC dancers performed solos on a program which began with a classical Odissi duet performed by Ramli Ibrahim, one of the most highly respected local dancers, and his disciple, Revati. Though the weather was threatening, with rain falling 30 minutes before the scheduled start time, the weather cleared and the performance took place as scheduled, followed by a dinner served al fresco in the garden of Sutra House. The performance was attended by approximately 50 people -- culture vultures of K.L. including the Ambassadors of Australia, Switzerland, Czech Republic and staff from the national theater et al. The performance was aimed to highlight the possibility of building a local arts fraternity and to lead the way to future collaboration between the Embassy and Ibrahim’s Sutra Dance Theatre.

    Performance for the Launch of MAFAA (Malaysian-American Friendship Alumni Association)

    BDC performed Notebooks for approximately 300 guests. The audience was eating dinner during the performance, and despite best effort by the dancers, the impact was somewhat diluted. Many people were surprised by the aesthetic/style of the dancing - apparently having expected a more glitzy Vegas-style presentation. Conversely, Jonathan (a former Fulbrighter) was surprised at the lack of cultural sophistication of the audience comprising Fulbrighters and other international scholars. Despite this, the Cultural Coordinator of MAFAA approached Jonathan expressing interest in bringing BDC back to Malaysia for a longer, more comprehensive program of performances and outreach activities in the future. It remains to be seen to what extent this interest will translate into effective action. Likewise, a French national living in Malaysia and teaching music and art in a local school who attended both the Sutra Dance performance and the performance at the Renaissance promoted the idea of bringing BDC back to Malaysia.

    Mainstage Performance at SGM Auditorium in Cheras

    Jonathan met with Joseph Gonzales to share information on arts management, arts in education and trends in dance in New York. Gonzales expressed interest in developing an ongoing relationship with BDC. Jonathan also met with Ramli Ibrahim and Sutra Lighting Designer Shiva and discussed continued collaboration on a bilateral level. Approximately 1200 people attended the concert presented by BDC in Cheras, a location 30 - 45 minutes outside of K.L. 4 dance works were performed, showing the range of BDC's repertoire. The hall was full and the audience accorded BDC a standing ovation. The performance was outstandingly organized by the U.S. Embassy and the Soka Gakkai organization with very professional lighting and sound, coordinated by BDC's tech director Barry Steele, and organized with a rental package paid for by the U.S. Embassy. The rousing audience response (one of the most vocal BDC has ever received anywhere) demonstrated that modern dance could find a receptive audience in Malaysia. The Company was overwhelmed both by the cheers that followed their performances, and also by the lavish mementoes given by SGM to each member of the Company. The performance was followed by a light supper/reception at which time students from the National Arts Academy and other audience members had a chance to greet the dancers and share their reactions to the program. Jonathan was particularly struck by the comments of a young Malaysian writer who shared her thoughts about "Where There's Smoke" - which she deemed the most subtle and impressionistic work on the program; as well as expanding upon the Malaysian attitude towards Jews. Jonathan had mentioned in his remarks during the program that "Secrets of the Paving Stones" and its music by the Cracow Klezmer Band responded to the lost Jewish culture of Poland. The writer said that to her, dance is the best form of cultural ambassadorship - because it was abstract and therefore not subject to censorship, and yet potent and poignant in its emotional/philosophical impact. She said that Malaysians know nothing about Jews or Jewish culture, and that their prejudice cuts Jews two ways: as Zionists, they are despised as anti-Islam; as secularists, they are hated as denigrating the importance of religion.

    “This activity helped develop new audiences for American modern dance. The Embassy has received many callbacks inquiring about Battery Dance Company’s next trip to Malaysia from this group of students. Students have expressed that the Battery Dance Company is sensitive to the local culture while imparting knowledge to them.” • Sadayan X. Riazurrahman, Cultural Affairs Specialist, U.S. Embassy Malaysia

    Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia 2005

    Perth, Australia
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    May 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here as a part of an 8-day program in Vietnam serving as a cultural representation in recognition of the 10th Anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.


    Dates

  • May 18 - 22, 2005

    Sponsors

    Project Activities

    • 1 Opera House Performance
    • 2 Solo Project Performances
    • 1 Gala Performance
    • 1 Lecture/interaction: “International Collaborations in the Arts”, HCMC College of Culture and Art
    • 5 Master Classes

    Partnerships

    Venues

  • Hospitality

    Hospitality is at a premium in Vietnam. Bring gifts to reciprocate at least in some measure. Arrive at least 15 minutes or so before an event such as a master class or talk because there will often be a formality, a meet-and-greet with the directors of the school or institution, involving drinks and snacks. This can be a challenge for dancers who want to warm up and prepare to teach a class, but politeness requires it.

    Master Class in Modern Dance 1

    The directors and one or two of the dancers of the Ho Chi Minh City Ballet Company have had some exposure to the U.S. through a program sponsored by Dance Theatre Workshop. Several of the dancers have trained in Russia and France. The overall attitude was very welcoming and respectful. We learned an important lesson at this first program: that going for a master class in Vietnam is a big event, and that the formalities are important – be prepared to meet with the directors beforehand, share biographical information, establish mutual good will, present gifts (we had BDC Company t-shirts and brochures with us, luckily!). We were stunned not only by the fruits, elaborate flowers, gifts, etc., but also by the 25 foot cloth banner that was installed in the dance studio welcoming Battery Dance Company to the HBSO, with American and Vietnamese logos. We found similar treatment throughout HCMC, and somewhat less so in Hanoi. The heat was intense in the studio. Two BDC dancers gave a 45 minute technique warm-up, modern style, and then progressed to combinations, all of which were well executed by the participants. They were then asked to perform, so they each presented their solos which were accorded huge ovations by the Vietnamese dancers. We were then treated to three dance items from the HCMC Opera Ballet, including a traditional item in which a solo dancer carried a miniature golden temple on a platter while dancing, and two ensemble pieces. I was asked to approve the two items for inclusion in our program at the Opera House, a courtesy that touched me.

    Master Class in Ballet

    We visited HCMC Dance School, met with the directors and instructors and students in a preliminary get-together (again with much fruit, cookies and water) and the sharing of biographical information around the table by the entire faculty of the school and some senior students. The ballet master class was taught to approximately 50 students, observed by another 25 - 30 students and all of the faculty. The students acquitted themselves to varied effect. We spotted some problems in the training (students forcing 180-degree turnout that they were unable to support, leaning back, etc.) but because this was a one-time class, and with all of the faculty carefully observing, we kept criticism to a minimum and dispensed it light-handedly.

    Master Class in Hip Hop

    The same students who attended the master ballet class also participated in this short hip hop class. Teens are teens anywhere in the world, so the students who had looked stylized and elegant in the ballet class immediately morphed into urban toughs with the requisite attitude and posturing in order to approach the material the teacher gave them. All gathered around at the end for the obligatory group photos.

    Solo Project Performance

    We all adjourned to the school’s auditorium for a presentation of Solo performances by 3 members of Battery Dance and 3 dance items by the school dancers. Then the BDC dancers (and Jonathan) learned the Bamboo Pole Dance, traditional Vietnamese folk dance, causing much hilarity among the participants (we had to hop down a line of dancers who were slamming bamboo poles together – staying in rhythm and placing our feet properly, or else risk having our ankles slammed!)

    Master Class in Modern Dance 2

    The second modern master class was taught at the HCMC Theatrical Company attended by 25 dancers, professionals and amateurs, ages 19 – 25. These skilled dancers represented a pretty high level of modern technique. This group was led by a choreographer whose talent and artistry was immediately apparent through the short ensemble piece that his dancers showed for us after the master class. He has visited New York’s Dance Theatre Workshop and is very open to collaboration and interaction. Many of his dancers were familiar to us as they were also members of the HBSO and had taken part in the first modern master class the previous day. His group is an independent company and suffers the indignities and challenges of neither having official recognition nor funding. They perform for corporate events and the like in order to bring in whatever revenues they can, but it appears to be a mostly self-supported effort at this point (despite its extremely high level.)

    Matinee Performance at the HCMC Opera House

    The program included 4 works by Battery Dance Company straddling two works by the HSOB Company. We were gratified by a full house and generous applause. Comments during and after the performance indicated that the audience was sophisticated and varied in its taste. Holding hands with our colleagues from the local HSOB in the final curtain call felt great!

    Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia 2005

    Perth, Australia
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Berlin, Germany

    Berlin, Germany
    2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005. 


    Breisach, Germany

    Breisach, Germany
    July 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005. 


    Please see the narrative for lessons learned.

    During the week of January 27th, 2005, the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, the American choreographers Aviva Geismar and Jonathan Hollander traveled to Germany on a grant from the U.S. Government to present their project “Dances for the Blue House.”

    Dancers, students, teachers and community, foundation, corporate and government leaders offered to join the project, strengthening and expanding it into a truly bilateral effort. Together they have forged a joint approach to the exploration of a universal issue: how do the next generations of Germans and Americans respond to the Holocaust?

    At the heart of this expansive program of international cultural exchange is The Blue House project of Breisach, that demonstrates poignantly and powerfully the actions individuals can take to change attitudes and air social and historical injustices in their communities. The Blue House is an old building which served as the gathering place Battery Dance Company in “Secrets of the Paving Stones” by J. Hollander for Breisach’s 300-year- old Jewish community up until the community’s demise. After decades of neglect and decay, the house was slated to be torn down in 1999. Instead, it was purchased by a group of community members, the Förderverein, and restored as a living museum and memorial. With the building as a base, the Forderverein searched for the survivors of Breisach’s Jewish Community and their descendents. These individuals have returned to Breisach three times at the invitation of the Forderverein and the town government, and have shared their histories with community members and schools. The Forderverein, in its endeavor to enlarge the scope of its programs, has invited Geismar and Hollander to develop this new initiative joining art and social consciousness.

    Jonathan recalls that Walking through the streets of Breisach and Freiburg during those days of summer, 2006, was like time-traveling. He said:

    I passed shoulder-to-shoulder with University students, holiday revelers, shopkeepers and shoppers, while simultaneously feeling the presence of the Jewish deportees, Nazi soldiers and everyday people of the 1930’s and 40’s in a surreal, layered march of time. The teenagers of Freiburg schools were unflinching as they created their emotional choreographies, avoiding the easy pull of show-off dancing; exposing a profound depth of feelings through movement. They tore at my heart, those young people, giving me renewed hope for the future and a surety that the ghosts I passed on the streets were smiling.

    Frankfurt, Germany

    Frankfurt, Germany
    2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005. 


    Freiburg, Germany

    Freiburg, Germany
    2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2005. 


    Please see Breisach, Germany 2005 for Narrative

    Haifa, Israel

    Haifa, Israel
    March 2005

    Dates

  • March 27, 2005

    Services

  • Dance master class and introductory talk by Jonathan Hollander on Battery Dance

    Sponsors

  • U.S. Department of State, Near East/Africa Bureau

  • U.S. Embassies, Citigroup

  • The take-away:

    Reciprocity is a critical component of cultural diplomacy; and being willing to give up the role of teacher and take on the role of student, thereby showing humility, is an invaluable quality in a cultural diplomat.

    Several of us drove to Haifa from Tel Aviv to meet Dr. Ruth Eshel and a troupe of Ethiopian Jews who had preserved their traditional dance form under her guidance. We spent several hours together, warming up and giving them a modern dance class followed by their giving us an introduction to their dance form, Eskesta, which is primarily a dance for the shoulders. After a few minutes, we began to feel muscles we had never used before (!) and all did a lot of laughing at how difficult it was for us to isolate the shoulders in such complex and exhausting ways.

    It was a long drive in both directions but we felt enriched from the interaction.

    A large number of the dancers returned the favor by coming all the way to Jaffa to see our performance a day or two later!

    Israel 2005

    Tel Aviv, Israel
    Jaffa, Israel
    Petah Tikvah, Israel
    Haifa, Israel

    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Hanoi, Vietnam
    May 2005

    Battery Dance Company worked and performed here as a part of an 8-day program in Vietnam serving as a cultural representation in recognition of the 10th Anniversary of normalized relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.


    Dates

  • May 22- 24, 2005

    Sponsors

    • US Embassy Hanoi
    • Citigroup Vietnam
    • Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel
    • Singapore Airlines

    Project Activities

    • 1 Opera House Performance
    • 1 Gala Performance, 300 audience members
    • 3 Master classes

    Partnerships

    Venues

  • See Ho Chi Minh City, Vietman 2005 for Lessons Learned.

    Ballet Master Class

    A ballet master class was taught by the Battery Dance Company at the Vietnam National Opera and Ballet with approximately 20 students participating. The teacher was very impressed with their technical proficiency and Jonathan was complimented by the VNOB administrators and teachers afterwards on the warm attitude and generosity of BDC’s teaching artists. The implication seemed to have been that some previous visiting artists had shown a more formal, less giving approach.

    Modern Master Class

    A modern master class/workshop on contemporary dance was conducted with Together Higher, a hearing-impaired group led by Le Vu Long & Luu Thi Thu Lan, both of whom have been to New York under the auspices of DTW. The participants were wonderful – they approached every challenge with good spirit and effort, and succeeded admirably. The BDC teaching artist dealt with the new experience of working with disabled dancers quite well and forged a good rapport with the participants.

    Hanoi Opera House Performance

    Before the Hanoi Opera House Performance, welcome speeches were given by John Boardman, Chargé d’Affairs, U.S. Embassy; and Nguyen Van Tinh, Vice Director in the International Relations Department of the Vietnam Ministry of Culture and Information. The welcome was followed by a full program of 4 works by BDC and 2 works by the VNOB. The Opera House was relatively full and the response was excellent. Lou Lantner, Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy, commented afterwards that the applause was more prolonged and hearty than any program he had attended at the Opera House since arriving in Vietnam. Ambassadors of Spain, Mexico, the EU and various other diplomats attended the performance; however, the audience was predominantly Vietnamese.

    Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia 2005

    Perth, Australia
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
    Hanoi, Vietnam