Thursday, July 14, 2005

(D) July 13, 2005 - (ADF) Battleworks Dance Company

Assignment: Battleworks Dance Company
Deadline: 13 July 2005
Venue: Reynolds Industries Theater, American Dance Festival
Date: 11 July 2005
Title(s): Alleluia (2002); Strange Humors (1998); Two (1994); Communion (world premiere); Unfold (2005); Takademe (1998); The Hunt (2001)


Essay: Becoming Dancer, Choreographer and Teacher



Dear Ms Houlihan,

I’m done with Julliard. I always knew I would graduate! That said I am at once excited and anxious about my future. Will a dance company take me? What if others out there are better than me? Can I afford to pay bills? I’ve so many questions. Will you pray for me?

Your faithful student,
Robert (Dancer)

Robert Battle, founder of Battleworks Dance Company clearly understands that it is the deep religious fervor for the art form that drives dancers. At the Reynolds Industries Theatre, American Dance Festival, his company kicked off the seven-item program with Alleluia (2002). The dancers, dressed in pure white, flapped their hands like wings of angels, crossed their hands to form a crucifix, and lifted their hands in worship and thanksgiving to God. The life of a professional dancer can be unpredictable and hard. Income and benefits fluctuate. But poet Robert Frost described it well when he wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Dear Ms Houlihan,

I used to do a lot of dancing and very little choreography – now it’s the reverse. I miss my “primadonna-ship” but at least I have more control over what I want to do now! I love the process of discovery and making things happen. I hope my dancers understand me. It’s so frustrating when they don’t.

Your faithful student,
Robert (Choreographer)

Mature dancers want to find their own voice and realise their ideas and visions. This exciting period is marked with experiments. Over the years, Battle explored large groups (The Hunt, Communion), duets (Strange Humours, Two, Unfold), humour (Two), technique (Strange Humour), narrative (Communion), music (Alleluia, Two) and so on. And Battle has yet to cease.

Dear Ms Houlihan,

Did you see me on stage? It’s obvious I can no longer dance the way I used to. Age has crept up on me. More importantly, did you see my babies on stage? My priorities have changed. I think it’s important to teach the young everything I know. I am burdened to make America dance, just as you did. The audience gave us thunderous applause. I felt a warm glow when I saw my babies beam. They worked hard and they deserve this moment. I know you’re sitting there amongst the audience watching me. I was on stage giving my ovation too. I hope you know that that’s for you.

Your faithful student,
Robert (Master Teacher)

When Martha Graham said, “Only the Gods can make me great,” she clearly left out teachers. In the solo Takademe, the playful student doesn’t realise that the voice is not merely music. Dance teachers (classical Indian) use vocal percussion to guide speed, rhythm and movement. The importance of the teachers’ role is often overlooked because it is also the least glamorous. Teachers succeed when their students succeed. And that is how we create legacy.

(491 words)

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The No-Mercy Peer Review

(They loved it!)

1 comment:

Mike said...

yay! they loved it! very well done. was nice talking to you last week!