Using dance as a tool for cultural diplomacy, Battery Dance visited Hue and Hanoi, Vietnam in October 2015 for the US Embassy's Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of Normalized Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
Battery Dance’s team of seven used dance as a tool for cultural diplomacy in the US Embassy’s Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of Normalized Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, returning to the country 10 years after its first national program in 2005 (which had commemorated the 10th Anniversary.) The program included an intensive youth engagement aspect coupled with various one-off outreach activities as well as high visibility performances, all of which garnered extensive local and national media attention.
The program was divided geographically into segments in Hue and Hanoi. The Company’s first engagement in the central city of Hue was managed by the staff from the U.S. Consulate General in HCMC with strong support from a local contact of Battery Dance’s. Hue is a large city of historic importance that doesn’t normally benefit from international performers on the scale of Battery Dance’s program. Essential assistance in the form of the loan of a linoleum dance floor and all-around help was provided by the HCMC-based dance company, Arabesque, founded by Nguyen Tan Loc, who sent his acting director who stayed on site throughout the performance programs. Local governmental agencies facilitated the use of the performance venues and technical crew; and collaboration was Hue College of Culture and Arts.
The second segment took place in the Capital City, Hanoi, where the Company had taught and performed in 2005. The PD Section of the US Embassy in Hanoi organized this segment. Both legs of the tour featured a similar array of programs anchored by Battery Dance’s Dancing to Connect workshops, which served over 100 youth in Hue and 70 in Hanoi, with two major performances in each City. In addition, there were 3-hour dance master classes offered at 3 institutions of higher learning in Hanoi; a workshop for visually and hearing impaired students in Quang Tri Province; a lighting workshop for 20 technical theater students at the University of Film and Stage; a visit to a State-run orphanage including a Battery Dance performance in Hanoi; and an interaction with Dao on Khanh, Vietnam’s leading avant-garde performance artist. The Embassy hosted a press conference with the musical recording artist Kenny G and Battery Dance; and the DCM hosted a reception for the Company and invited representatives of Hanoi’s dance community, conservatories and schools.
Media coverage in Hanoi was extraordinary: VTV 4 broadcast a 9.5 minute feature on the Company that included interviews with Ambassador Ted Osius, Battery Dance leadership and staff and local students participating in the Dancing to Connect workshops. I hope we don’t have to wait until the 30th Anniversary of Normalized Relations to return.