Led by Jonathan Hollander, Battery Dance was founded in 1976 in lower Manhattan and in 1982 the company created its outdoor festival which normally takes place in that same part of town. Over the years, Battery Dance has become an ambassador of dance by including choreographers and companies from around the world, building bridges worldwide through international cultural exchange with programs in 70 countries to date. This year is no different except that the festival has been forced to go online due to the pandemic. The Company invented Battery Dance TV with hundreds of classes, performances and interviews broadcast across 135 countries, achieving over 400,000 views within just four months.
Battery Dance now announces the 39th Annual Battery Dance Festival with free virtual performances from August 14-22, 2020, available online nightly 7pm – 8pm (EDT) via YouTube. Films will remain online for ten days after their premiere. The Battery Dance Festival brings together 52 filmed performances including 28 premieres from 19 countries. Those countries include Belgium, Canada, Curaçao, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Palestinian Territories, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Zimbabwe.
The lineup for the Battery Dance Festival, provided in the press release by Michelle Tabnick Public Relations is below. For our LADC readers, please notice that a couple of Los Angeles area companies are included on this virtual dance festival.
Black Voices in Dance – Friday, August 14, 2020
D (NYC), Will Ervin (Illinois), Jamal Jackson Dance Company (NYC), Kofago Dance Theater (NYC)
Ervs Works Dance kicks off the Festival with I-will I-Will I-WILLLLL, investigating the complications of one’s relationship to the self by choreographer Will Ervin. Festival favorite Jamal Jackson Dance Company presents grEeneR grASsEs exploring the impact of migration. Kafago Dance Ensemble, steeped in traditions from West Africa and the Caribbean, presents CROSSROADS, with the deity Eshu as its guardian. D, founded by director Dorchell Haqq, presents the Company’s work tenderheaded…, examining the process of rediscovering ourselves.
From India, Saturday – August 15, 2020
Rajika Puri (Narrator), Aakash Odedra Company (India/UK), Aditi Mangaldas Dance (India), Bijayini Satpathy (India), Kapila Venu (India), Pradeesh Thiruthiya (India), Sadhya Dance (India), Sooraj Subramaniam (Australia/Belgium), Sophia Salingaros (U.S.), Sreelakshmy Govardhanan (India), Zoya Akhtar (India)
Acclaimed Indian dance artists perform ancient rituals, classical dances and contemporary works, moderated by dancer/scholar/curator Rajika Puri on India Independence Day. New York-based Bharatanatyam dancer Sophia Salingaros opens the program with a dedication to the God Shiva. Kathak/contemporary artist Aditi Mangaldas takes us into an interior monologue while Aakash Odedra and Hu Shenyuan share moments from Samsara who’s European and U.S. engagements were halted by the pandemic. A haunting melody suffuses a garden in Bijayini Satpathy’s version of a classic Odissi work by Kelucharan Mohapatra, performed by her two disciples. Kuchipudi dancer Sreelakshmy displays the storytelling aspect of the Kuchipudi form in a forest setting. A Festival commissioned film reveals the painstaking makeup of Theyyam artist Pradeesh Thiruthiya in timelapse as he transforms into the goddess Bhagawati; and Koodiyattam prima donna Kapila Venu personifies the tortoise avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu by lamplight. Sadhya Dance’s Grapple explores darkness and light with three contemporary male dancers, while Sooraj Subramaniam presents a danced miniature against the Ghent skyline. Director Zoya Akhtar’s uproarious Gallan Goodiyaan from the film “Dil Dhadake Do” provides a rousing Bollywood finale.
From the Middle East including Ayman Safiah Memorial Tribute, Sunday, August 16, 2020
Ayman Safiah (Palestinian Territories in memoriam), Hoedy Saad (Lebanon), Project TAG (Iraqi Kurdistan / U.S.), Tanin Torabi (Iran), Yaa Samar! (Palestinian Territories)
Diverse dance-makers from Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestinian Territories, Iran and Lebanon challenge stereotypes and encourage the deepening of trust and mutual understanding through art. In the U.S. premiere of The Dérive, Tanin Torabi moves among the people in an old bazaar in Tehran where dance is prohibited. The world premiere of Project TAG’s A Call for Prayer encourages the making of peace with our own conflicted selves. Hoedy Saad, a choreographer and voguer from Lebanon performs TBD, a world premiere. Battery Dance remembers the life of Ayman Safiah, a 29-year-old Palestinian dance artist born in Galilee, who tragically died in May. A selection of films prepared by choreographer Samar Haddad King reveals the impact Ayman had on a generation of Palestinian and Israeli dancers as a choreographer, director, mentor, and role model.
Future Temple by Japanese choreographer Emiko Agatsuma imagines the changing perception of the soul from past to future. Commissioned by the Romanian Cultural Institute, Ana Maria Lucaciu and Razvan Stoian present Almost, a story of two echoing universes that aim to align; the air between two bodies resonate with what could have been. Sisters, an award-winning dance film choreographed by Emma Evelein, portrays three sisters growing up in a broken family, revealing their inner world and unbreakable relationship. In the U.S. premiere Trans-tánc Budapest by TranzDanz / cie. Gerzson Péter Kovács, young dancers repeat a sequence inspired by Hungarian folk dances as they traverse the emblematic sites of Budapest. Strikingly filmed on sand dunes in Greece, the U.S. premiere of Anasa is contributed by Odos Productions, the work of Swiss choreographer Maja Zimmerlin and French filmmaker Thomas Delord. Ludivine Large-Bessette’s Drop Out Bodies questions the fatality of the human body and our individual and collective responsibilities in this complex time.
From Europe & Japan – Monday, August 17, 2020
Ana Maria Lucaciu & Razvan Stoian (Romania/U.S.), Emiko Agatsuma (Japan), Emma Evelein, (Netherlands), Ludivine Large-Bessette (France), Odos Productions (Greece), TranzDanz/cie. Gerzson Péter Kovács (Hungary)
Celebrating the Centennial of U.S. Women’s Right to Vote – Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Annalee Traylor (Alabama/NYC), Ashley Menestrina (NYC), Doris Humphrey danced by Meggi Sweeney Smith (NYC), Futorian Dance Theatre (NYC), Jean Erdman (in memoriam) through Nancy Allison (NYC), Kathryn Posin Dance Company (NYC), Lori Belilove dancing Isadora Duncan (NYC), Rosanna Gamson/World Wide (Los Angeles, California)
Battery Dance Festival honors female choreographers in a program co-curated by Catherine Tharin. Combative Echoes by Ashley Menestrina investigates the role of memory and transient energy in the human experience. Annalee Traylor’s the nearness of you metaphorically depicts four vignettes universally connected through aspects of relationships. Inspired by the Persian tale of Shahrzad, Rosanna Gamson’s Layla Means Night reveals our insatiable desire to be entertained. Set to Steve Reich’s Pulitzer-winning Double Sextet, Kathryn Posin adds a third sextet of dancers to the polyrhythmic interlocking musical network. Futorian Dance Theatre presents a world premiere suite with the theme of compassion, nurturance, and dedication. In Hamadryad with choreography by Jean Erdman, a dancer rehearses alone in a studio enchanting herself back into the forest as a wood nymph, while Isadora Duncan’s Revolutionary, as danced by Lori Belilove, and Doris Humphrey’s Quasi Waltz as danced by Meggi Sweeney Smith round out Tharin’s legacy suite.
From Africa – Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Abdul Kinyenya (Uganda), Dunia Dance (Zimbabwe/Belgium), Luthando Dance Academy (South Africa), Moving into Dance (South Africa)
African artists draw from their traditional dance, culture and communities in creating original contemporary works. Moving Into Dance Company performs Road and Everlast, fusing African and Western contemporary movement, ritual and music. Thina, created by Phumlani Nyanga and performed by the dancers of Luthando Dance Academy, portrays a young South African family as they struggle to maintain harmony. Abdul Kinyenya’s Twete attracted worldwide attention when shown on Battery Dance TV in May, earning a reprise in the Festival.
From North America – Thursday, August 20, 2020
Cornfield Dance (NYC), Dancing Earth Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations (Indigenous territory, occupied New Mexico and California), Dancing Wheels (Ohio), Delfos Danza (Mexico), Kaeja d’Dance (Canada), National Ballet of Canada
Toronto-based Kaeja d’Dance presents XDTO with 22 dancers improvising one-minute solos in an urban glade at the edge of Lake Ontario with the skyscrapers and harbor of Toronto in the background. National Ballet of Canada’s offers Gratitude, choreographed by the dancers of the company who perform on balconies and in homes, yards, woods, gardens and parks. Cornfield Dance’s Portal denotes the passageway from one state to another-agitation into peace and quotidian into sacred. Choreographed by David Dorfman, Imagine, If You Will… is performed by Dancing Wheels, the first professional physically integrated dance company in America, uniting dancers with and without disabilities. Mexico’s Delfos Danza presents Telempathies, a U.S. Broadcast premiere of an experimental work using dance on Zoom.
From Battery Dance and its Resilient Festival – Friday, August 21, 2020
Art-a-Hack (NYC), Battery Dance Company (NYC), Reuel Rogers (Curaçao)
As our festival takes the virtual stage for the first time, we explore the past, present, and future of Battery Dance and the Festival. Based on Greek mythology, Battery Dance Company’s world premiere Icarus, choreographed by company member Razvan Stoian, reflects on hubris as our society’s demise. Partnering with artist/technologist Ellen Pearlman and Thought works Arts, Art-a-Hack joins Battery Dance’s Stoian and Hussein Smko in collaboration with 25 international art hackers exploring the intersection between dance and cutting edge technologies. Curaçao-based dancer/choreographer Reuel Rogers, mentored by Battery dancer Sean Scantlebury and a highlighted performer in last year’s festival, presents his new work Hero, a motivational piece about how to become your own personal hero.
From NYC with Love and Hope – Saturday, August 22, 2020
Accent Dance (NYC), Dolly Sfeir (NYC), Fractal Collective (Netherlands), Pony Box Dance Theatre (NYC/Los Angeles, California), Tom Gold Dance (NYC)
Battery Dance Festival dedicates its final day to New York City. #NYTOUGH #ILOVENYC. The world premiere of Tom Gold Dance’s Plan & Elevation, set to Caroline Shaw’s string quartet, imagines an encounter among four individuals on a summer day in a garden. hi are you like me choreographed by Dolly Sfeir is an ironic presentation of the finance world and its inhabitants. Pony Box Dance Theatre’s No Man is an Island explores the feeling of isolation arising from the virus lockdown of 2020 as four dance artists of color reach out to one another in the cleared streets of NYC. Fractal Collective presents From the Streets to the Seats, with breakdance hitters around the globe from Amsterdam to the NYC subways in a documentary and performance story about hustle, hope & hierarchy. Accent Dance’s Naranjo en Flor crafts an abstraction of the tango form, blending ballet and contemporary vocabularies set against a live performance of the most traditional song in the tango canon.
For more information on the Battery Dance Festival, click HERE.
A trailer of the festival is available HERE.
Written and compiled by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
To visit the Battery Dance website, click HERE.
For more information on Michelle Tabnick Public Relations, click HERE
Featured image: Jamal Jackson Dance Company – Photo courtesy of Battery Dance Festival