Dance Heginbotham: Exchanging Culture through Dancing

FLA-Karangmalang. Dance Heginbotham, founded in 2011 in New York by John Heginbotham (Artistic Director and Choreographer) and Adrienne Bryant (Managing Director), is a contemporary dance company which was found because the aforementioned founders have common interest in dancing. "The inspiration of making this dance company is very organic." John said. "I actually did not want to have a dance company. But then I found this one group of dancers to create a specific piece of dancing ["Closing Bell"] and the piece was a success. Then we were asked to do more. And then before we knew it, we had just been working consistently with the same group of people." This dance company has been impressed for the creativity of their works which contain the mixture of athletic, humorous, theatrical elements in it. Also, it has been regarded as one of the most daring and impressive emerging dance companies in the U.S.

Dance Motion USA brought Dance Heginbotham to tour to three countries in South East Asia, Laos, Philippines, and Indonesia. The tour went on for 6 weeks, departing from US on February 29th to Laos for 2 weeks, then arriving at Philippines for another 2 weeks, and finally ending the tour in Indonesia on March 21st to April 6th. In Indonesia particularly, Dance Heginbotham has explored several dance institutions and events in Jakarta, Jailolo, and Yogyakarta. The institutions and events include IKJ (Institut Kesenian Jakarta), UNJ (Universitas Negeri Jakarta), Art America, Jailolo Culture Festival, UNY (Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta), and Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja.

Dance Motion USA, together with Dance Heginbotham and U.S Embassy, has a specific purpose to the program, that is cultural diplomacy that relates both countries from cultural aspect (specifically on dancing) through workshops, sharing, teaching, etc, which will then be performed in a mini collaboration concert held in those regions they are visiting. Not only do they teach and be taught by professional local dancers but they also teach the beginners and the challenging yet most interesting, people with disabilities. "It's challenging because then we're limited with how we are able to convey. We rely really on body language." Kristen Foote, one of the dancers, stated. "You have to be so very clear and give [them] lots of time. And for the blind, a lot of guiding and explaining." However, the disabled can follow instructions very well and they perform just as great as other dancers.

When asked as to their impression with the people living in Indonesia, they said they were amazed by the hospitality. "We've been greeted with such comradely and friendship and hospitality. And everybody that I've met here seems to eager to learn what we are bringing and we collectively feel so eager to learn from the people that we've met. And that has actually happened. It has been such a beautiful experience." John said.

Regardless of their tight schedule, they still manage to spend time exploring the places they are visiting. In Yogyakarta, Dance Heginbotham's dancers and crew were mostly amazed by the culture. Kristen was fascinated by Batik and said that she loved that the dance and art are preserved openly and she thought serving the old and original is incredible. For John, having witnessed a traditional dance from Yogyakarta, Tari Bedoyo, was the most beautiful thing. He said, "To tell you honestly, it was so beautiful and I asked if I could come back and watch again and I could tell that this dance is going to influence me and the upcoming work for my company." (LA/TRI/BAI)