Hyderabad: Broaden Your Impact
Hyderabad is the capital of the State of Andhra Pradesh and one of India’s most important cities. However, in 1992, the city was just beginning to show signs of emergence as an important IT and international business center.
Beyond the companies very intense schedule of activities in Hyderabad, their first order of business was the urgent need to recover from the exhaustion and illness that had plagued the company during their journey throughout the state of AP. Programmatically, the company had a rich combination of lectures, master classes and performances to accomplish in 4 short days.
An especially noteworthy aspect of BDC's Hyderabad program was the creative marketing savvy of the local sponsors. They had a very large house to fill – the Ravindra Bharati -- and Battery Dance Company were an unknown name in Hyderabad. The repertoire was devoid of flash and dazzle, but the sponsors took the name of one of the pieces, ‘Tell Me the Truth About Love’ and emblazoned it on a giant banner that stretched from the corner of the theater across one of the largest avenues of the city. This was actually a very smart strategy because it meant that the religiously conservative community would give BDC a wide berth but a younger audience, interested in anything American, would throng the performance and get an introduction to modern dance.
BDC Director, Jonathan Hollander was on a Fulbright Lecturing assignment in India and this permitted him to establish a relationship with the American Studies Research Centre at Osmania University. The director at the time, Glenn Johnson, was a professor at Vassar College who had taken a 2-year Fulbright assignment with ASRC. He and his wife Sipra hosted a reception for BDC at their home, introducing the company to the academic elite of Hyderabad, a city of several universities. The ASRC has since been closed as part of the cut-backs in funding by the State Department of American libraries overseas, but at the time Jonathan was there in 1992, ASRC had a robust program attended by some of the most promising college students from all over India and neighboring countries. Hollander gave a lecture on American modern dance and many of the students expressed their enthusiasm for hearing directly from an artist working in the field rather than from a book – and the Q/A was very lively. Addressing the scholarly group at the university helped build interest in BDC's performance, that was set to take place a day later, and the company were welcomed by a full house at the performance. (and fortunately, they had a full complement of dancers since everyone had recovered from their illnesses and was ready to finish off the tour with a bang!)
Take-aways: Whenever possible, BDC looked for opportunities to broaden the impact of our international programs by adding academic lectures as well as workshops and master classes, engaging scholars and giving them incentive to attend performances. The experience in Hyderabad was one of the first international programs that exploited this program and outreach type of overlap.