Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in 2006.
Master classes at the Dutch Burgher Union
Battery’s program in Sri Lanka represented a double treat. First, the company had the opportunity to return to this dance-loving country in which it had established collaborations with the two leading dance institutions - Neelung and Chitrasena - on two previous visits and as the U.S. host for visiting dancers and musicians from Sri Lanka in New York. Second, the company relished the chance to work again with Terry White, newly established PAO in Colombo, who had coordinated BDC’s Morocco program in 2004.
As expected, the visit of five days was deeply rewarding. PAS Colombo is staffed by very committed FSN’s and with Terry’s leadership, and oversight from the equally arts-friendly DCM Jim Moore, all signs point to a robust American cultural diplomacy program that will engender goodwill and inspire the Sri Lankan people over the next several years (if political conditions permit). BDC was thrilled with the turnout at its six master classes and made several observations:
In a notable demonstration of the generosity of the Sri Lankan dance community and their eagerness to participate in the workshops, Neelung Dance Academy arranged for the loan of a portable dance floor (Marley) to the Dutch Burgher Union – a beautiful old building with teak flooring (good for spring, but too slippery for ballet slippers and too splintered for bare feet). Due to the island’s tropical climate, appropriate dance spaces are scarce; Neelung’s contribution made all the difference.
Performances at Bishop's College Auditorium
Battery Dance invited Chitrasena and Neelung dance institutions to collaborate in its two performances at the Bishop’s College Auditorium by selecting a young dancer of special promise to perform on BDC’s programs. This concept of sharing the stage with local dancers, successfully implemented by BDC on previous tours (Vietnam, Australia, Morocco and elsewhere) worked out beautifully in Colombo. Neelung deputed a young male dancer and Chitrasena, a female, accompanied by a bevy of 4 male drummers. It seemed that the Sri Lankan audience saw its own dancers in a new way, when presented on the stage of an internationally acclaimed company from New York. The universality of dance and music was underlined as the audience responded with equal enthusiasm to classical Kandyan dance as well as contemporary western dance on the same program.
Radio interviews with Jonathan Hollander
The U.S. Embassy organized two radio interviews with Jonathan Hollander. The first one, on Lite 89.2, included airtime for some of Battery’s music, as well as a discussion about the company’s work in Sri Lanka. The second interview, on 101.7 – “TNL Rocks”— was notable because it was broadcast on the country’s most popular youth station, along with pop & rock music, giving Hollander the opportunity of reaching out to the island’s teen & young adult audience.
Battery Dance Company performed and worked in Tokyo, Japan in 2006.
Please see Sendai for more information on Battery Dance Companies 2010 tour to Japan.
Master Class at Chacott Shibuya
Six modern dance master classes were conducted in Battery Dance Company “style.” Warm ups were led by Bafana Matea, followed by repertoire segments taught by Stevan Novakovich, Adele LeRoi Nickel, Lydia Tetzlaff and Jeanene Winston, emphasizing excerpts from the BDC repertoire. The studio was filled to capacity with 25 students and 3 Japanese dance teachers who observed.
Japanese dance teachers expressed their hope that BDC would return for performances and extended workshops in Japan. The students did a superb job of picking up the new and challenging material and showed enthusiasm throughout.
Performance at International House Tokyo
With its NGO host Peace Forest and in cooperation with International House Tokyo, BDC organized a performance that included solos by four of its dancers as well as solos by two Japanese guest dancers, with a group work by BDC as the finale. A panel discussion and dialogue with the audience followed the performance. This event was the inaugural performance in International House’s newly rebuilt facilities. Although the hall capacity was mentioned as 80, Peace Forest managed to squeeze in 100 people.
Notable guests included Margot Carrington, Deputy Cultural Attaché and Jeffrey Hill, Deputy Press Attaché, U.S. Embassy; Takao Nishizawa, Program Officer, Tokyo Municipal Government; Professor Fukuchi, President, Peace Forest Japan; Nobuo Shiobara, Executive, Fleishman Hillard Japan; Eiji Kurosawa, General Manager, Chacott Co., Ltd., Japan; and Christopher Blasdel, Artistic Director, International House.
Solo performances were presented by BDC Company members Stevan Novakovich, Lydia T etzlaff, Bafana Solomon Matea and Sean Scantlebury; solo performances by Japanese guest artists Mayuna Shimizu and Megumi Kamimura brought a bilateral touch to the evening. ￼ An ensemble presentation by BDC of “Notebooks” concluded the performance aspect of the program, followed Fellow Daisuke Muto, joined by panelists Kamimura, Shimizu, Hollander and BDC company member and dance critic (The Village Voice) Adele LeRoi Nickel. The panelists discussed their perceptions of contemporary dance in New York and Tokyo and answered questions posed by audience members.
Program Activities (Japan 2006 trip)
Social Issues: Japan is a country with a very different set of social norms from the U.S. Forget casual! It is really important to educate oneself beforehand -- a small gaffe could cause a major set-back in building partnerships and forwarding your project. For example, the presenting of business cards is an almost ceremonial act. There is much literature on the www that will give a detailed, step-by-step description; but for dancers and choreographers, it won’t seem difficult o master. Hold the card delicately with both hands and present it (with the card positioned in such a way that your counterpart can read it) accompanied by a slight bow. When receiving a card, take it gently and examine it with interest and approval. My advice: take a Japanese friend aside before you visit Japan and ask for lessons in decorum. This will serve you very well!
Bureaucracy: Spontaneity is a concept that doesn’t go well with Japanese organizers. In fact, I was stunned to realize that the idea of suitable planning time for a project in Japan if two years at the minimum. Theaters, even smaller ones, seem to be booked this far in advance.
Maintain a synergistic approach: bring your partners together; build secondary events to add to your main one; include social activities, formal or informal, in your program plans. Our event at the Hilton in Osaka proved to be a very important opportunity to have our Japanese hosts and the hotel manager meet and greet and generate a feel-good atmosphere around the program.
A small dinner reception was held at the Hilton Osaka, hosted and attended by members of Peace Forest, NPO, the Company’s hospitality sponsor; Mr. Schwander, GM of the hotel, and other dignitaries and dancers.
The United States’ stature as a world center of the performing arts was on brilliant display by the Battery Dance Company. Implicit in the many workshops offered was the US’s similar role in world arts education; there was no doubt in the minds of the dance participants that they were seeing and participating in the top level of dance. This American dance company’s identification with the world peace movement also offered the Japanese public a more nuanced view of the US, this in contrast to a spate of recent of US-connected issues headlining in Japan, including US military base relocation within Japan and concerns with Japan’s participation in Middle Eastern peacekeeping. The Battery Dance Company’s Kansai tour was a large-scale and complex undertaking, but yielded commensurately positive results! -U.S. Consulate General, Osaka
Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2006.
Please see Osaka 2006 for more details.
Please see Osaka 2006
Master classes & Meet-the-Artists Reception at Mukogawa Women’s University, Takarazuka
BDC members all attended an afternoon workshop for over 100 high school and college-age dance students from Kansai area institutions including Tenhy University in Nara, Ashiya Performing Arts Academy and Mukogawa University in Takarazuka.
To commence, Jonathan Hollander gave introductory commentary and presented all members of the company.
Sean Scantlebury taught a hip- hop master classes for over 50 students who picked up the material proficiently and enthusiastically. The atmosphere was fun and the students were extremely cooperative and friendly.
Jeanene Winston and Lydia Tetzlaff gave two successive master classes in modern dance. The students ranged from intermediate to advanced levels and followed the teachers’ instructions with relative ease.
A small reception was held afterwards and gifts were presented to each of the BDC members
Battery Dance Company worked and performed here in 2006.
Battery Dance Company worked and performed in Mumbai, in 2006.
Sponsors & Local Partners
Even if a performance is offered free to the public and there are no earned revenues derived overseas, there may still be an issue of taxes, fees, licenses and/or permits that need to be addressed.
India’s very complicated performance licensing procedures could have capsized BDC. The adroit handling of the situation by the companies local partner, Asia Society, saved the day (and night!)
Matinee performance for Mumbai street children at Nehru Centre, October 7
Battery Dance returned to India after a gap of five years, presenting a matinee for homeless children at the 800-seat Nehru Centre. The matinee was coordinated by Bunty Chand and her staff of the Asia Society India Centre, who obtained all the necessary permits and reached out to three charitable organizations whose clientele is the homeless community of Mumbai: Akanksha, Pratham and C.C.D.T. Performing for this ebullient audience was one of the highlights of the tour.
Evening performance for the general public at Nehru Centre, October 7
The same evening, BDC gave a performance for the public, sponsored by Citibank, Taj Group and Asia Society. The house was full with a very enthusiastic crowd, drawn by BDC’s reputation in India, enhanced by a full page feature in Time Out Magazine. Members of the professional dance, film, music and theater communities from as far away as Pune attended the performance and accorded the dancers a standing ovation. Considering the very difficult technical conditions encountered at Nehru Centre, BDC’s tour technical director David Bengali did an extraordinary job.
Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in 2006.
Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in 2006 on a project they called "Dances for the Blue House."
Press and Media
Over the course of 2 weeks in the summer of 2006, 12 teaching artists from New York, Russia and Australia teamed up in pairs to work with groups of students from three public high schools in Freiburg, Germany. The thesis behind their work was to employ the art of dance to help teens in Germany work through their feelings about the traumatic history of the Holocaust, and to invest themselves into the group creation of dances that reflected and resulted from this process. The project was entitled “Dances for the Blue House”, referring to the building, converted into a living museum, that serves as the physical reminder of what had been a thriving Jewish community in the adjacent town of Breisach until Krystallnacht and the subsequent deportations.
The teaching artists comprised six members of Battery Dance Company in New York, four members of Drastic Action in New York, a guest teacher from the teen program SMILE in Novosibirsk, Russia and a guest teacher from Buzz Dance Theatre in Perth, Australia. The project was conceived, planned and supervised by choreographers Jonathan Hollander and Aviva Geismar, artistic directors of Battery Dance Company and Drastic Action respectively. Both Hollander and Geismar had deep connections with the effort surrounding the Blue House --- Hollander as a friend of nearly 4 decades with Dr. Christiane Walesch-Schneller, founder of the Blue House project, and Geismar, as the descendant of a Jewish family originally from Breisach.
The two choreographers and their dance companies worked together in planning curriculum and discussing approaches to this highly experimental project. They also took part in training sessions beforehand with people who could lend a special perspective to the work they would be doing: Arne Lietz of Facing History & Ourselves; Ralph Eisemann, a Holocaust Survivor, son of the last Cantor of Breisach, and former resident with his family of the Blue House itself; Professor Dan Bar-On, noted author and trainer, who met with Jonathan Hollander at Ben-Gurion University one year prior to the project, and with the dancers of Battery Dance Company in Breisach. These trainings helped prepare, encourage and validate the teaching artists for their special task in Germany. All of the teaching artists were experienced in working with youth, but engaging with the Holocaust theme introduced a new dimension into their role as facilitators and teachers.
The German teens who participated in the project were, for the most part, previously untutored in dance. Ages of the participants ranged from 13 – 19. The two groups at Kepler School included a mixture of boys and girls. At Lessing Schools, there were exclusively girls, and at Theodor Heuss Gymnasium, one courageous boy took part with a full complement of girls. The involvement of the special education program at the Lessing School, where students whose learning style is different and where, for many of whom, the German language and culture is a second one, gave another character to the group.
Noticeable and amazing in the workshops was the complete absence of cynicism, ridicule or self-consciousness that could have been expected in a mixed group of teens. The element of vulnerability was a key to the successful realization of the project and was exemplified by the teaching artists as well as the students. It was clear throughout that everyone was learning together.
The culmination of the workshops was six performances, three in the schools as part of end-of-year ceremonies, and three in nearby Breisach. The school performances were important in that a large proportion of parents, students and teachers saw the results of their schools’ workshops and the school was, in effect, putting a spotlight on the students who had volunteered to take part. Likewise the teachers from the schools who volunteered untold hours of time in planning, preparing and facilitating the workshops received the approbation of their administrators and fellow teachers.
The three performances that were held in the town of Breisach, included a site-specific work created by Aviva Geismar on the formerly named Judengasse and Synagogenplaz; followed by performances by Battery Dance Company and Drastic Action and all of the student works. These performances were to have been held at the outdoor amphitheater Festspiele; however, weather conditions precluded this option. Instead, the Mayor of Breisach and his staff made it possible for the performances to be shifted on a moment’s notice to the sports hall Breisgau Halle located on the border of the town.
U.S. Ambassador William Timken, Mayor Oliver Rein of Breisach and other officials and V.I.P. guests from the local region as well as those from Switzerland, France, Israel, Canada and the U.S. attended the opening day performances and ceremonies, their ranks swelled by local community members of all ages. The two subsequent performances were similarly well attended. An overall audience tally has been approximated at 1,500, a huge audience for such a small town.
The impact of Dances for the Blue House is evident through the achievement of the 100 German high school students whose lives were changed through the workshop experience.
Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in the summer of 2006.
Two Jewish-American choreographers and their New York-based dance companies joined with German partners to launch a series of events titled, "Dances for the Blue House" that respond through dance to the historical events that led to the destruction of the European Jewish community during WWII. An 18-month planning period for a program of creative and educational projects began in the Fall of 2004 with meetings in New York City; continued and culminated in performances, workshops and other public events centered in the small town of Breisach, and expanding outwards to Freiburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and the Eastern States of Germany in June and July, 2006.
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, community, foundation, corporate and government leaders helped to strengthen and expand the project 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?
Please see Freiburg, Germany 2006 Narrative for further information on Battery Dance's time in Germany and their participation with the project, "Dances for the Blue House".
Sponsors & Local Partnerships
The Take-aways: Challenges will come out of various and sundry sources – in this case, from the Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Embassy who asked us to mentor Cambodian dancers and produce new choreography in 4 days. Little did we know that this was one of the pivotal moments in the derivation of Dancing to Connect, a model arts education program that has since taken us to over 20 countries!
Social Issues: Cambodians have suffered the gravest of traumas during the Pol Pot-Khmer Rouge times. Artists and the intelligentsia were either killed or sent to the rice paddies to become menial laborers and farm hands. The young people with whom we worked are the children of parents who suffered through and survived this terrible period in recent history. On the one hand, they were aware of the history; but on the other hand, they wanted to move on. We felt it was important to understand this nuance and build trust based on respect and … fun!
Cultural Adaptation: Heat and humidity were a struggle and we felt somewhat guilty that Amrita spent what was, in its context, a bundle in order to rent the one and only a/c dance studio in the entire country for ‘the foreigners’. Fred Frumberg, the Director of Amrita, and his wonderful team understood that we would wilt after a few hours without a/c; and so they rented the beautiful studio that was built by a dance-lover in Phnom Penh who intended to open a Western-style dance school. However, as we understood it, after building it, the patron died and no one else had the funding to keep the space running. Amrita would have loved to make it their home but the upkeep was too expensive.
Bureaucracy: We didn’t suffer any consequences of bureaucracy because Jeff Daigle and the US Embassy navigated whatever local hoops needed to be jumped through before we arrived.
Quite ambitiously, PAO Jeff Daigle proposed that BDC create original dance works with local Cambodian dancers, to be incorporated into the Company’s performance at Chaktomuk Hall, increasing the chances that Cambodian King Sihamoni would attend. At first, there was trepidation on the Company’s part: How could a brief interaction between dancers from such disparate backgrounds result in a performance meriting a Royal Command performance?
However, in the short span of four days, the Cambodian dancers bonded with their American mentors and the unimaginable took place. Elements such as partnering and weight-sharing, common to American modern dance but totally alien to the Apsara traditions, were embraced and conquered by the young Cambodian dancers with their fearless attitude and appetite for unexplored territory. Amrita Performing Arts personnel, including the visionary Fred Frumberg and his superb local staff, assisted in the areas of translation, technical and programmatic facilitation, supporting Battery Dance Company at each juncture.
Jeff Daigle described the success of the program in a statement issued soon after BDC’s visit:
Battery Dance Company (BDC) brought modern dance to Cambodia for the first time during the group's October 16-22 stop in Phnom Penh while on an EAP/PD-sponsored tour of Asia. Battery Dance, based in Lower Manhattan, is one of America's leading contemporary dance troupes. During their stay, BDC conducted a four-day workshop with twenty two young Cambodian apsara dancers--apsara is the traditional Khmer dance form--to develop a piece entitled "Homage to Cambodia," which was presented during a gala performance on October 21. By all accounts the performance was a smashing success. Tickets for the event were completely sold out three days in advance, the first time this has ever happened for an Embassy cultural event. His Majesty King Sihamoni was the honored guest at the performance (also another first), and other notables in attendance included the Deputy Prime Minister and numerous Ministers. Although Cambodians rarely applaud at performances, the audience gave the dancers rousing cheers between each number, and His Majesty the King led the audience in a final standing ovation at the end of the night.*
He went on to comment on the media buzz generated by Battery’s performance, noting that “three television stations and numerous radio programs and newspapers covered the performance,” including a television broadcast of the performance on TVK, Cambodia’s national network, and three full pages in the English-language Cambodia Daily.
Feedback from U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli, in a letter written to Jonathan Hollander, memorializes the performance vividly:
I would like to express my personal thanks to you and the entire cast and crew of Battery Dance Company for the superb performance the Company recently mounted in Phnom Penh. By all accounts the presentation was a tremendous success. Never before has one of our cultural events been sold out days in advance, with a waitlist of more than 100 to boot! Nor have we had a production meet with such acclaim, including praise from His Majesty King Sihamoni, who is himself a professionally trained dancer. The subsequent nationwide broadcast of the show as a prime-time television special was merely frosting on the cake. Of course I would be remiss if I did not also mention the “Homage to Cambodia” dance piece that Battery Dance Company created during its four-day workshops with local Apsara dancers. This work was as moving for the audience to watch as it was exciting for the Cambodian dancers to perform. I thank you and the entire Battery Dance Company ensemble for your dedication to fostering mutual understanding between Cambodians and Americans. Bravo!
Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in 2006.
The only notable difficulty BDC encountered in its program in Taiwan was in working with the technical crew at the Metropolitan Hall. The Company ran into language barriers and communication challenges as well as competency issues. It seems that the talent and expertise to operate professional level lighting and sound equipment is not something one can count on in Taiwan at this point, even from purportedly reputable independent contractors and vendors. BDC’s performance was passable technically, but should have been much better and less stressful, given all the preparation done by TD David Bengali and the hefty financial investment made by PAS/AIT.
Many strands came together to form the rich tapestry that was BDC’s first visit to Taiwan. The fact that BDC had two former Taiwanese dancers who had since returned to their native country, Nai-Yu Kuo and Bulareyaung Pagarlava, helped to stir its curiosity about the country and to open doors in the planning and execution of the project. The team at the American Institute in Taiwan was first rate and working with them made for a dense and very successful program. The combination of numerous outreach activities with a high level performance as part of the Taipei Arts Festival gave the project wonderful breadth.
Through the energetic, tactical and expert support of the Cultural Affairs Officer (CAO) the Cultural Affairs Assistant (CAA) and the entire staff of The Pacific American School in Taiwan (PAS), under the leadership and vision of American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) BDC realized a very ambitious program for its debut in Taiwan.
BDC’s residency in Taiwan stood out among the dozens of cultural diplomacy projects in which the company has participated over the years for its depth of impact and broad variety of activities. The schedule was streamlined for economy, but sacrificed nothing in the pursuit of artistic excellence, clarity of intent and targeted communication. Months of careful planning and preparation went into the crafting of the schedule with PAS/AIT communicating in detail with BDC in meeting all needs and demands well before project implementation. BDC’s activities in Taiwan were of a length and magnitude as to require corporate sponsorship to supplement the financial support accorded by AIT and the East Asia Pacific Bureau . BDC used its historical relationships with Citigroup and Deloitte to introduce the idea of cost-sharing among the local executives of these companies. The CAO adroitly followed up on the proposals issued by BDC, resulting in sponsorships. Similarly, BDC’s earlier hospitality sponsorships from international hotel groups proved a helpful factor in convincing the Grand Hyatt Taipei to donate rooms and fitness center privileges.
In Taiwan, the standards for technique and craft in modern dance have developed rapidly over the past decade with the ascendancy of Cloud Gate Dance Theater and the building of excellent conservatory-style training programs at the University level. Accordingly, BDC was able to pitch its classes and performances at a high level. Further, by meeting and greeting fellow artists in a collegial atmosphere such as that provided by a Taipei Artists Village reception and the visit to Cloud Gate rehearsal studios, the interchange and sharing between equals was reinforced. It has often been commented that BDC artists are unpretentious, a quality that served the company well in Taiwan.
Over four days, Battery Dance Company’s team of dancers doubled as teaching artists in various settings for master classes and workshops. Due to BDC’s versatility, the offerings included ballet, modern and hip-hop, and each program was tailored to the differing age groups and skill level of the students. The BDC teaching artists gave master classes at the dance departments of Chinese Culture University in Yangming Shan and the National Taiwan University of the Arts; Hua-Gan Art School, also in Yangming Shan; Cloud Gate Kids Class in Taipei; Lan-Yang Dance Troupe in Yi-lan County (Eastern Taiwan), and Taichung Cultural Centre.
In addition to working with professional dance students, the Company members gave a workshop for teenagers at the local Yi-lan High School. BDC member Jeanene Winston departed the tour prematurely due to a family emergency in New York. Adjustments in the teaching and performing schedule and assignments for the later legs of the tour were necessitated. Jonathan Hollander recounts how his own experience in Taiwan was affected, “I took over the teaching position for a workshop with the teachers of the Cloud Gate Kids Program. This turned out to be serendipitous. I have rarely spent a more rewarding morning. Working with twenty young teachers, I structured a session on choreography, focusing on the springboards for my explorations and creations: music, theme and design. We split the participants into three groups, each group being assigned just one of these elements and composing a miniature piece around it. Reviewing the session afterwards, the whole experience seems unbelievable -- but in the span of approximately 30 minutes or less, each group produced startlingly original and credible results. I noted the absence of any discord among the participants and marveled at their ability to reach an ambitious (and in each case, unexpected) goal in such short time.”
The Company was honored to present an exclusive performance at the AIT-hosted reception for Fulbright alumni. “Secrets of the Paving Stones” and several solo performances delighted the former Fulbright scholars and Honorees at the Performing Arts Center of Taipei National University of the Arts. In contrast to the intimate, private performance for the Fulbright alumni and scholars, Battery Dance Company performed four group pieces and four solos with the theme “Changing Winds from New York” at the 1000-seat Metropolitan Hall. The Company’s performance, part of the highly-publicized Taipei Arts Festival, was well attended by a broad cross-section of young people, Taiwanese dancers and arts aficionados and was glowingly reviewed in Ballet-Arts Magazine.
Creative thinking on the part of the AIT Commercial Section and seamless cooperation with the PAS Section led to a BDC “first”: a talk with members of the AmCham and representatives of the Taiwanese business community and high-level government representatives on the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility and its application in the world of arts & business cooperation. BDC’s Artistic and Executive Director Jonathan Hollander shared his experience of working with the corporate community in New York and provided examples of best practices ranging from corporate sponsorship and grants programs to volunteer board matching mechanisms, in-kind contribution initiatives and other innovative programs that have been developed and implemented in the U.S. The dialogue was very lively and promoted a sense that the talk would be a springboard for further exploration and cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan, business and arts sectors.
Battery Dance Company enjoyed a warm welcome and its programs were well received in each country of the tour. Most often, the impression was made that American dance programs are a rarity and that the American approach (friendly, collaborative, artistically innovative) is profoundly appreciated. Young people flocked to the workshops and master classes and every performance was full if not over-subscribed. Cultural exchange and performance tours with European and other Asian countries appear to have supplanted the U.S. in the field of dance to some extent. This situation, however, could be reversed were the touring ability of American choreographers and dance companies to increase. New York City, and America in general, still holds an obvious allure for the Asian and South Asian dancers and audiences, and many Asian dancers and choreographers aspire to study and/or show their work in the U.S.
Also see: Mumbai 2006
There are two important lessons BDC learned on this very short engagement. The company were only in New Delhi for 2 days, but what an eventful two days they were …
The first take-away is:
Track your itinerary carefully and obtain visas to match. In this case, BDC were on an extensive tour of 6 countries and went through the obligatory visa process well in advance, noting that there were special conditions for those members of the BDC ensemble who were not Americans. When the company obtained their visas for India, they asked for multiple entry visas because the itinerary called for a stop in Mumbai; then hopping over to Sri Lanka; and then back to New Delhi... OK? Straightforward? Yes, but one of the dancers was only given a single entry and nobody noticed this until he was detained at the ND airport and nearly sent back to Sri Lanka! Fortunately, BDC were able to talk and buy their way out of the dilemma but had this not been the case, the performance would have been very cancelled!
The second is:
Make sure that, if you have several sponsors, they are all in agreement on the times/dates of the performance, and how many tickets they are permitted to have for their guests. Especially when your sponsors are not “equal” -- i.e., a government agency vs. a corporation -- you can get into serious trouble. Read on!
Performance for the general public at Kamani Auditorium, October 15:
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations coordinated with Battery Dance Company in hosting a performance for the general public at New Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium. BDC had performed on the same stage in ‘94, ‘97 and ‘01. The event was compromised by a miscommunication with ICCR, which sent out over 4,000 invitations and announced the curtain time as 6:30 pm. BDC had earlier established 7 pm with its sponsors – who had been promised blocs of tickets as a sponsorship benefit. Some of the guests of Taj Hotel, Citibank and Boeing were unable to find seats as a result of the hall’s being packed, every seat filled and hundreds of standees, by the time they arrived. The media coverage gracefully avoided mention of the chaos in the auditorium, focusing instead on the company’s dancing and the repertoire which received high praise.
Master classes at the Cultural Center of the Philippines
Battery Dance Company’s debut in the Philippines was put in place after the other sectors of the Asia Tour were planned, anchored by an invitation to perform in the country’s premiere theater, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the generous offer of complete hospitality support by the local Renaissance Makati City Hotel.
The U.S. Embassy staff, with Cultural Affairs Specialist Tony Perez as point person, did an outstanding job of organizing a full roster of outreach activities and performances during the company’s stay of fewer than three days in the Philippines. On the first day, three master classes were taught at the CCP’s studios – ballet by Lydia Tetzlaff, modern by Stevan Novakovich and hip-hop by Sean Scantlebury – and offered free of charge to the very gifted members of Manila’s dance community. The ballet class was attended by approximately 30 students, ranging from teens to young adults; the modern by 40 very advanced dancers; and the hip-hop, a small group of 10 highly professional dancers who are members of the local performing ensembles.
Matinee performance and gala evening performance for the American Embassy at Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater)
Cultural Affairs Specialist Tony Perez and ACAO Stephen Ashby also assisted in organizing the Company’s two performances, a matinee and evening performance on the same day, which were noted as the first performances at the CCP by an American dance company in nearly a decade. The afternoon show was attended by a majority of young people; the evening show by members of the general public as well as a contingent of VIP’s. Nestor Jardin, Executive Director of the CCP, and U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney gave introductory speeches and the Ambassador hosted a reception in the lobby following the show.
Agnes Caballa, one of the Embassy’s press specialists, did an amazing job of attracting representatives of all major media outlets, television as well as print media, to cover the master classes as well as the performances, greatly expanding the public awareness of BDC’s activities.