ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, Octomber 15, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 20

Charged with power & lyricism

By Smriti Daniel

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 about.

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 to that.

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.”

Top to the page

Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.