Battery Dance: Dancing to Connect (DtC) Iraq
Battery Dance employed a pre and post program participant survey to assess its program, Dancing to Connect - Iraq. In doing so, the dance company and the program participants explored areas of self-expression, attitude and perception changes, and conflict resolution. Three attached documents provide more detail of these evaluation tools: 1) a final program report, 2) an executive summary of an evaluative report with survey questions and results, and a graphical representation of survey results. Working collaboratively with American and local partners, Battery Dance Company of New York used the art of dance as a medium for healing and youth empowerment in Iraq. The program was sparked by a Marine returning to Iraq as part of a cultural diplomacy program. Employing Battery Dance Company’s signature arts education methodology, Dancing to Connect (DtC), a pair of American teaching artists engaged with 28 Iraqi students, ages 17-22, and two local teacher trainees over a period of one week. They worked in a group that crossed gender, religious, social and geographic boundaries. Together and under the guidance of BDC’s teaching artists, the students created choreography that spoke to the issues of inclusion/exclusion, the struggles of living in a war-torn country, and their hopes for a better future. As the process went forward, the initial differences between the students melted away. Over the course of the week, the students learned the craft of choreography as a vehicle for expressing their emotions and creative visions. None of the participants had taken formal dance classes in the past. Many were students at the Institutes of Performing Arts where they were studying acting or directing. As such, everyone began the process on a similar, very fundamental level. The differences between the students from the two cities were noticeable at the beginning of the workshop. They ate lunch on different sides of the courtyard and expressed passionate opinions and observations about one another in discussions. As the workshop developed, and the teaching artists initiated the mixing of demographics, the differences disappeared. On the last day of the workshop the students from both cities and religions were intermingled, professing friendship, and singing traditional songs together. The attached evaluation tools and reports show the company's efforts in assessing the impact of this work on participants' lives and attitudes.