From NYC to Taichung: A modern dance partnership ''Moves the Spirit''
By Douglas Habecker Translated by Ann Lee
An extraordinary public performance, representing an unprecedented collaboration between a leading New York City dance company and Taiwanese aboriginal junior high school dancers, will take place in Taichung on the evening of May 1. The performance, titled "Moving Spirit", is being presented by the visiting Battery Dance Company and includes an eight to 10 minute aboriginal-influenced modern dance performance created and performed by 18 Taichung Aborigine junior high school dancers with the assistance of the company's dancers.
Under the direction of Battery Dance's Artistic and Executive Director Jonathan Hollander, the 30-year-old company is introducing its new "Dancing to Connect" program to Taiwan's aboriginal community. Noting that he was inspired by the respect for community and art ingrained in local aboriginal culture, Hollander is inviting local audiences--both dance aficionados and first-timers alike--to attend the free performance "with an open mind and expecting a variety of different colors, moves and moods".
This project is co-sponsored by the American Institute in Taiwan, Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau, the Executive Yuan's Council for Indigenous Peoples, and the TWTC International Trade Building Corporation. It is not the first visit to Taiwan for Battery Dance, which conducted a series of masterclasses and workshops around the island and performed at the Taipei Arts Festival in November, 2006. Its Taiwan connections also include four Taiwanese dancers who have worked with the company at its home in lower Manhattan, and two Cloud Gate Dance Company dancers who have toured and performed with Battery Dance.
"During our group's last visit, we were struck by the high level of respect Taiwanese have for contemporary dance. It is inspirational and thrilling," said Hollander. "The Taiwan dancers have great expressive qualities and strong technique as they come from a cultural platform which emphasizes refinement, elegance, and physical power....a reflection of the respect for hard work and passionate engagement that characterizes Taiwan society, values that are clearly shared by American dancers, too."
Over its 30 years of history, Battery Dance Company's performances have featured unusually eclectic and original choreography and music inspired by the world's cultures and reflecting America's own diversity. The Taichung performance is the most recent of similar company collaborations in five continents, designed to promote intercultural understanding and exchanges, with inspiration and influences flowing in both directions. In the United States, it has also mentored over 200,000 public school students in various elements of modern dance. Its international youth programs are designed "build international awareness, broaden minds, and inspire individual creative confidence."
"The human body in motion is exceptionally stirring, and like music, the art of dance is a universal language. At best, dance resonates within the heart and soul of audiences of all types," says Hollander. "We hope to 'Move the Spirit' when we make our Taichung debut!"
The free performance will take place on Thursday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Taichung's ZhongShan Hall. Tickets will be available from April 16 at the information desks of the Taichung City Cultural Affairs Bureau (Cultural Center) and ZhongShan Hall. For more information, call (04) 2372-7311, ext. 366 or 359, or (02) 2723-3959, ext. 214.