Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Battery Dance Company performed and worked here in 2006. 


  • October 9 - 12, 2006


  • U.S. Department of State, Office of Public Diplomacy, East Asia Pacific Region

  • U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs

  • U.S. Embassy Colombo


  • Neelung Dance Academy

  • Chitrasena Dance Company

    Project Activities

  • 2 Performances

  • 6 Master Classes

  • 2 Radio Interviews


  • Dutch Burgher Union

  • Bishop's College Auditorium

  • 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:

  • Young men and women on the island are drawn to dance in nearly equal numbers.

  • Training in American forms of dance, modern and hip-hop, is not readily available in Sri Lanka, though local dancers have a strong appetite for both.

  • Though ballet training is available in Sri Lanka (there are at least two schools in Colombo), American teachers are nonetheless very welcomed and appreciated.

    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.