Earlier this year, renowned American contemporary dancer Jonathan Hollander was in Bangladesh. Jonathan Hollander is the founder & artistic director of Battery Dance Company in the USA.
Founded in 1976 in New York's Financial District, Battery Dance stands for artistic excellence and social relevance. Battery Dance performs on the world's stages, teaches, presents, and advocates for the field of dance. Battery Dance is dedicated to the pursuit of artistic excellence and the availability of the arts to everyone. An integral part of the fabric of New York City for 42 years, Battery supports the creative process; educates children in the New York City schools; enriches the general public through local programs and performances, national and international tours, and international arts exchange programs.
The annual Battery Dance Festival is going on. Established by Battery Dance in 1982 as the Downtown Dance Festival, the Battery Dance Festival is New York City’s longest-running free public dance festival. Each year, the Festival draws a combined audience of over 12,000 people. Tarique Choyon spoke with event organizer Jonathan Hollander to learn more about the festival going on in Battery Park August 11th through the 18th.
Tarique Choyon: What was in your mind when you were going to start BDC?
Jonathan Hollander: I had been dancing in other people & other’s choreography and had been in a dance collective where we all created for each other. When the collective disbanded, I had a decision to make -- should I continue as a freelance dancer; or should I try my hand at forming my own company. I chose the latter .... and Battery Dance is the result after 43 years.
Tarique Choyon: What did you prioritize then, money or fame?
Jonathan Hollander: Money was the last thing that any dancer or choreographer would have in mind. It would be more secure to become a garbage collector than to create a non-profit (NGO) dance company. It was passion to create beauty, to contribute to the world in some way, and to bring the public into the art form, in other words, create access to the arts for everyone that motivated me. Also, the desire to be my own boss.
Tarique Choyon: Wow! You are an aesthete indeed! You came a long way Jonathon, its almost 43 years! What do you feel now? Still you are your own boss?
Jonathan Hollander: I am as much of a boss as I choose to be, which has changed over time. At this point, I am very much a team-player, not a tyrant. I seek input from my colleagues and encourage succession planning since I hope the organization will go on beyond me.
Tarique Choyon: You are travelling along with your team in different countries & too in Bangladesh from January 25 to 29, this year. How many countries did you travel?
Jonathan Hollander: The dance company has been to more than 70 countries. I guess I have been to about 60 of those, however I am not checking my passport (smiling).
Tarique Choyon: Let us know our readers about your Bangladesh tour? Was it a successful one?
Jonathan Hollander: It was a revelation for us to visit Bangladesh. My dancers had extremely meaningful connections with various communities through the dance workshops they taught at the Shilpakala Academy. My experience was different -- I gave a lengthy talk at the EMK Center and in that way, met many of the young, dynamic arts leaders in Dhaka. For all of us, it was the excitement of interacting with the up-and-coming generation of creative young Bangladeshis that left the greatest impression.
Tarique Choyon: You have a great fondness for Rabindranath Tagore & have already worked on him…
Jonathan Hollander: Back in 1994, I heard my first Tagore songs in Kolkata and was inspired and determined to make a production using Rabindrasangeet. After a *year & apos;s work, research and creation, Songs of Tagore was born which was performed across the U.S., Europe, India and Sri Lanka. With live music by Sanghamitra and Samir Chatterjee.
Tarique Choyon: So, what is your next plan?
Jonathan Hollander: Our next project takes place from mid-September for a month. We will be conducting our Dancing to Connect workshops in four regions of Germany.
The theme of these workshops is Refugee Integration -- working with mixed groups of German students in high schools with their refugee counterpart.
Tarique Choyon: Thank you Jonathon.
Jonathan Hollander: Thank you too.
Tarique Choyon, a Dhaka-based TV journalist, has claimed to take the interview of Jonathon Hollander. Kalerkantho did not make any changes while publishing the interview.