Battery Dance Company made its Thailand debut and conducted an extensive array of outreach programs in July, 2013. The one-week program in Bangkok was organized by the U.S. Embassy in teamwork with Busakorn “Apple” Chantaravorameth of rumPUREE World Dance studio.
The overall project was deemed a success.
U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney wrote:
“I just wanted to let you know what a huge success the Battery Dance Company was last night in Bangkok. Thank you for sending them our way. They were charming, artistically flawless and made a wonderful impact with children who might not otherwise know the joy of dancing.”
BDC Teaching Artist Robin Cantrell reflected on her experience:
This was the most intense Dancing to Connect I've ever dealt with. Half of my students came from a place called the Mercy Center, which is a home in the city for orphaned children, many of whom are HIV +. The others came from The Center For Protection of Children's Rights Foundation. This is a home just outside of the city for girls who were either victims of human trafficking, or were sexually or physically abused by their families and needed to be removed from their homes.
Most of the girls had been in these group homes from a very young age. I'm sure they were not considered a part of many normal social groups. They have very few belongings but are given a small weekly allowance which they mostly spend on candy. They seemed to be very reliant on one another for protection and comfort.
These girls have deep emotional issues that they are currently, and will likely always, be working through. I treated them very differently than I've treated DtC groups in the past. For example, one troubled girl came in and instead of participating in warm up, sat at my feet and watched warm up. Normally, I would find this unacceptable, but in this case, I let the girls determine when they were ready to be involved with the group. They also had a habit of retreating into themselves, going to another place mentally and emotionally when they were asked to do something that made them uncomfortable. I can only imagine that this is a strategic coping mechanism for dealing with sexual abuse.
This group had difficulty with concentration, emotion, and trust, but based on their backgrounds, this was all to be expected. The stories that their teachers, social workers, and they themselves shared with me were horrifying. Every day I would go home, shower and cry, then become angry with the monsters who could do such terrible things to such sweet little girls. In the end, this was probably the most rewarding group I've ever worked with. These girls were already so strong for having made it through such traumatic early life events. I was very proud of everything they accomplished. Their piece was last in the performance. They were not the strongest dancers, but I think they presented the most feeling, and gave a very strong show.
The entire Battery Dance Company team lavished praise on the organizing team of Kanchalee “Kelly” Jitjang and Busakorn “Apple” Chantaravorameth for their superior skills in facilitating what was, in the end, a very complicated program. BDC Artistic Director was supposed to be part of the team in Thailand but had to return to New York City due to a family emergency. As such, the BDC team carried on without a central project manager and was particularly impressed at how smoothly issues like transportation, snacks and meals were coordinated.