with power & lyricism
This is a dance company with exceptional
spirit. They have danced their way across South Asia
– and in the process built relationships that
will remain long after they have moved on.
“It’s really about communication
through dance,” says Jonathan Hollander, the Artistic
Director of the Battery Dance Company, adding that it
takes place on several different levels – from
teaching and performing (often for free) to sharing
the spotlight with a dancer from another discipline.
This artistic give and take is meant
to transcend all geographical and political boundaries
– and at heart, this is what the company is really
Many remember the Battery Dance Company
from their last visit in 1997. They returned to Sri
Lanka on their Far East and South Asia Tour, 2006. Beginning
with a performance at the Bishop’s College last
week, the company’s highly accomplished and gorgeously
choreographed dancers presented three pieces for the
delectation of Sri Lankan audiences. Also taking the
stage were soloists from the Nelung Academy and the
Chitrasena Dance Company.
The result was an evening which showcased
some of the best performances we’ve seen in a
long time. Lyrical or raw; light hearted or yearning
by turns, the pieces choreographed by Jonathan were
undoubtedly powerful, evoking emotions that soared or
plummeted at the lift of a hand and the angle of a head.
That these were skilled performers
was always obvious – the ease with which they
seemed to leap through the air, the graceful yet almost
impossible lift of the leg, the nearly perfect synchronicity
– all accomplished so naturally, gave testament
The two young soloists – Rangika
and Thaji (left) – did their mentors proud with
displays of ballet and Kandyan dancing respectively.
Each brought to the stage freshness and undisputed talent.
For Jonathan and his group, the chance to work with
young dancers and performers here was one of the main
attractions. This was made possible in six free workshops
conducted over two days at the Dutch Burgher Union.
The sessions which were informal and
friendly, saw many young people signing up to learn
from Company members. The classes which covered ballet,
hip-hop and modern dance techniques were led by different
people on different days, but they all had one thing
in common – they were great fun. “You knew
there were people there who hadn’t done ballet
before,” said Nadeera Rajapakse who participated
in one of the workshops, “but he (Stevan Novakovich)
made it seem easy”. Not a simple thing to accomplish,
she points out. “He seemed to take it for granted
that everybody was there simply to learn, and they did.”
Stressing the ‘bilateral’
nature of these interactions, Jonathan says he sees
it as a way for individuals to really make a difference.
Approaching the arts from this perspective
results in “our senses being open to the experiences
that we receive and the people that we meet,”
says Jonathan, adding that “they change us, and
our work is enriched by that…we hope that we leave
something behind as well.”