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Reflections on Santiago a Mil Festival, by Andrea Snyder

4 Feb

Festival signageIn mid-January Carolelinda and I attended the last week of the Santiago a Mil International Festival, a three-week theatre (and dance) festival. The last week – the Platea – welcomed over 200 international professionals, whose work is crucial to enabling the production, distribution and programming of the performing arts. The days were spent in discussions, roundtables, informal conversations, and staying cool in the 90+ degree weather. The late afternoons and evenings were packed with performances.

Dancers using space at GAM to rehearse

Dancers using space at GAM to rehearse.

Fleeting Impressions:

  • Festival  heavily focused on theatre—discussions took place with leadership about strengthening dance programming in future.
  • Much of the theatre work – and some of the dance – was edgy, political, and non-mainstream.
  • Theatres were full and audiences were enthusiastic.

The relaxed atmosphere allowed for easy dialogue with international colleague—plenty of opportunities to meet new programmers and network, while drinking lots of coffee!

For those who attended the festival, what were your impressions? Please share your thoughts!

Waiting to attend dance work Insomniac

Waiting to see Insomniac dance performance

Reception at Santiago A Mil Festival

Reception at Santiago a Mil Festival

“On the road with American Dance Abroad: inkBoat in Seoul,” a report from Shinichi Iova-Koga

25 Jan

On October 6, 2015, inkBoat performed “Line Between” at Mary Hall in Segong University as part of the Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDdance) with strong support from American Dance Abroad (ADA). It only took 7 years to pull it together.inkBoat

The path to Seoul begins at Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf in 2008. It is here that I meet Andrea Snyder and Carolelinda Dickey, who are the life and blood of American Dance Abroad. I witness many performances at Tanzmesse, each with full production support. I meet fellow Bay Area residents KT Nelson and Brenda Way during post show discussions over beer (it takes leaving your country to meet your next door neighbors). This leads to KT and I co-directing a work (“Listening Last,” 2011) on the ODC Dance Company (and establishing a deep friendship).

Later in 2011, in the midst of developing “Line Between,” Carolelinda and Andrea invite me to attend Performing Arts Market Seoul (PAMS). I meet two pivotal folks at that time: Jong-Ho Lee of the Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDance) and Sukjin Lee, a traditional musician. I spend time with Sukjin over Makgeolli, a fermented rice drink. I pitch the work to Jong-Ho Lee at a PAMS speed dating session (see: video report below).

In 2012, I spend 3 months in Japan, supported by the US/Japan Friendship commission, studying Kagura (folk dance), Nihon Buyo, Aikido and Shakuhachi. I don’t make it to Seoul that year.

In 2013, supported by the MAP Creative Exploration Fund, I travel again to Japan to study Kagura, Butoh and Aikido. Then, travelling to Seoul, I reconnect with Sukjin, who organizes 12 musicians to join me in a collaborative improvisation. Jong-Ho Lee attends and joins us for dinner (and drinks) afterwards.

In 2014, Jong-Ho Lee travels to the Bay Area as part of an international contingent organized by Carolelinda and Andrea, and witnesses a work in progress of inkBoat’s “Without Us.”

In 2015, Jong-Ho Lee invites inkBoat to the Seoul International Dance Festival… a delightful and risky opportunity for us. SIDance can only cover a fraction of our costs. We must make significant reductions to bring the show to Seoul. We launch an Indiegogo campaign. ADA provides us with a “Rapid Response” grant. With these two funding sources we are able to cover our travel costs, but no artist fees. Most cannot make the journey without payment. For this trip, we lose our main performer Dohee Lee, musician Jason Ditzian, performer Peiling Kao and our lighting designer Allen Willner. At the deciding point of whether to bring a less involved show or continue on with “Line Between,” we invite Noh performer Jubilith Moore in to take over primary dancer/performer Dohee Lee’s role. Katherine MacDonald takes over musician Jason Ditzian’s role. Dana takes on Peiling’s role and both Dana and Amy Rathbone take on the lighting design, under Allen’s tutelage. Carolinda and Andrea are there at every critical point to help us pull it together.

Once in Seoul, SIDance takes good care of us. The crew and facilities at Mary Hall are excellent. Staff members of SIDance make themselves available for our needs. Difficulties arise in translating the set to the space, but Amy adjusts to the conditions and makes modifications.

In the end, the travelling company does extraordinarily well in pulling together the performance under Dana’s direction, finding solutions to the challenges. Could we have done better with more resources? A clear yes. I believe this question of resources is one that ALL American companies face when it comes to international touring. It is at the heart of what ADA struggles with. For me, though the road to Seoul was rocky, we now have the information and experience to do it better next time and we found in the process a solid team that travels well together.

Thank you ADA for all that you have done and continue to do to support American dance companies seeking to reach an international audience.

-Shinichi Iova-Koga

American Dance Recon/New York 2015

10 Dec

From November 18-23, American Dance Abroad hosted 11 international presenters and programmers in New York for the fourth year of American Dance Recon. The participants hailed from Mexico, Hong Kong, Norway, Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Denmark, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and France.

American Dance Recon (ADR) is an intensive introduction to the contemporary dance scene in New York City.  Over 4-1/2 days, the international participants saw 20 New York dance artists in rehearsal or performance, met with colleagues in the dance field, and participated in a Town Hall panel/Q&A session open to the public.  The artists who participated in ADR were selected based on who was in rehearsal & performance during the week, with an eye to ensuring diversity of genre, race, gender, aims, and touring experience.  Many artists also requested to be included in the schedule. The full schedule of the symposium can be viewed here.

The ADR group preparing to watch Abraham.In.Motion in rehearsal (setting up headphones to listen to a specific piece of music while watching the work)

The ADR group preparing to watch Abraham.In.Motion in rehearsal (setting up headphones to listen to a specific piece of music while watching the work)

ADR is one of American Dance Abroad’s most valuable and successful projects to date.  It fosters real conversations and connections across spaces where isolationism and economic difficulties have traditionally dictated relationships.  The perceptions around American dance in the international marketplace varies by country and person, but many of the sentiments expressed included things like:

My impression is that it’s a big focus on the physical dance – the movement itself, and not so much on the dramaturgy.

So far I know the “big names”, but I don’t know a lot about young scene, independent artists.

I’m very interested in American dance because their history is the history of modern dance…Unfortunately I’m not an expert in new names of American dance and the high fees of these big companies make them impossible to present in our countries.

American Dance seems for me more modern than contemporary. It is highly skillful but a bit old fashioned and market-based.

International participants eating New York pizza for the first time in between rehearsal visits and an evening performance.

International participants eating New York pizza for the first time in between rehearsal visits and an evening performance.

After participating in American Dance Recon, many of those same participants expressed thoughts such as:

Diverse. Powerful. Re-emerging – alive. Fresh. Exciting….This in terms of a general view. Aesthetically talking I think it is still unbalanced between form and content. Form, technique and virtuosity is over all. Maybe that is American dance. Now I know there is a bunch of new artists doing great job. New generation. New blood!

Seeing work live is an essential element of ADR, but so is discussion.  To that end, participants were involved in daily morning meetings to discuss obstacles, prominent ideas, reflect on work, and learn about each other’s programming.  They also met with funders and service organizations in New York, ate lunch with several dance agents, and were a part of an annual public Town Hall co-hosted with Dance/NYC to share knowledge with the New York dance community about working internationally.  (To watch the video of the Town Hall, click here.)

The ADR group meeting with (last three from left) Ella Baff of the Mellon Foundation, Leah Krauss from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and Lane Harwell of Dance/NYC

The ADR group meeting with (last three from left) Ella Baff of the Mellon Foundation, Leah Krauss from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and Lane Harwell of Dance/NYC


Are you interested in learning more about positioning your work strategically in the global marketplace?  Andrea Snyder and Carolelinda Dickey, American Dance Abroad & Performing Arts Strategies’ Co-Directors, are offering a one-day intensive on the nuts and bolts of working internationally on January 14th, 2016.  The workshop is a part of APAP’s Professional Development Institute and is only $125, with a discount available for APAP members.  Register early as space is limited.

Reflections from PAMS 2015

14 Oct

Terrific, successful, and valuable networking at the Performing Arts Market Seoul (PAMS) for the American Dance Abroad delegation. Fifth year in a row that the U.S. had a visible presence, and more so this year. For the first time, an American company – inkBoat from San Francisco – was presented by the Seoul International Dance Festival (SIDANCE) during the conference. This was the result of Shinichi’s previous relationship building experiences through American Dance Abroad and his ongoing connection to Mr. LEE Jong-ho, artistic director of SIDANCE.

the delegation

The delegation. L-R: Dana Iova-Koga, Carolelinda Dickey, Andrea Snyder, Heidi Duckler, Bernard Schmidt, and Shinichi Iova-Koga.

The delegation included Bernard Schmidt (agent, New York), Heidi Duckler (artistic director, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Los Angeles), and Shinichi Iova-Koga and Dana Iova-Koga (artistic director and associate director, inkBoat, San Francisco).   The single ADA booth was dwarfed by the three-tiered booths for CINARS, Dance from Spain, and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council surrounding it in our Exhibit Hall aisle, but that did not deter our team. We all did our best to represent American dance and to make connections with interested programmers. Our delegates were generous and diplomatic, and each invested time and effort to get to know international colleagues. Some of the best, serendipitous networking happened on buses and in venue lobbies. Heidi and Dana commented that the most intimate conversations happened with other artists, and that getting the big picture view was analogous to planting seeds in a garden. It takes repetition, time, patience, and persistence.

Bienal SESC de Dança, September 23-27, 2015

25 Sep

We arrived for the first day of spring in Campinas, Brazil for the Bienal SESC de Dança. This year, the first day of spring is equivalent to the hottest day of the summer in the northeast USA. 94 degrees in the shade!

Having experienced the Bienal two years ago in Santos, it was an easier adjustment and more comfortable process to appreciate the flow of the Bienal – the schedule, the SESC environment, and the language. Familiar faces made us feel even more at ease. Connecting with the SESC dance and international staff to discuss ways to develop international opportunities for dance artists has been made much easier by the continued relationships developed over the last several years at various international meetings (ISPA, Tanzmesse, and our own American Dance Recon).

There are many SESCs in Brazil. Each state has several. One might consider them like community centers, but the facilities offer much more, including galleries, cafeterias, sports, theatre spaces, and cultural activities for individuals and families. The Bienal SESC de Dança is curated by SESC staff every other year, runs for two weeks, and presents Brazilian and international dance artists and companies in spaces all over the city in which it is held. We have already seen work by Christian Rizzo (France), Christian Duarte (Brazil), Wagner Schwartz (Brazil/France), and Willy Dorner (Austria), in spaces as varied as an auditorium, a theatre, an abandoned train station, and through the streets of Campinas.

Observers watch a site specific work as part of the Bienal.

Observers watch a site specific work as part of the Bienal.


3 Sep

Read the full press release here.

Rapid Response’s Indiegogo Campaign Successfully Funded!

20 Jul

We are grateful to announce that American Dance Abroad received $10,666 through its Indiegogo campaign for Rapid Response, a quick-turnaround micro-grant project to help U.S. artists respond to international invitations in time. Learn more about: Rapid Response.

An enormous and collective THANK YOU to all of our contributors.  Your support will help many artists work internationally.

And if you would like to continue to contribute to the ongoing efforts of Rapid Response, you can donate anytime through our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, and contact us to earmark it specifically for this or any other project of American Dance Abroad’s.

Standards for Distributing Video

3 Jul

Unfortunately, one of the things many American companies stand out for in international panels is the quality of their video.  And not in a good way: subpar video quality, a failure to adhere to required formats, an unusual (for international viewers) use of montages or overlaid music, and other issues plague the perception of American companies abroad.

Here is a quick primer, though by no means comprehensive, on what companies from the U.S. should do to make sure their video adheres to international standards.

There are two categories: DVDs and online.

First of all, sometimes DVDs are necessary.  Using DVDs bypasses limitations on international streaming in certain countries.  And of course, sometimes panels still require hard media in the application process.  It’s a good idea to have quality labeling (not just Sharpied with the company name) ready to send out so there’s not a last-minute scramble to get it done.  Think of your DVD as another tool in your international marketing toolbox.

Which brings up the question of which format: NTSC or PAL?  NTSC is best.  Although PAL is primarily used in Europe, most of the DVD players there have the ability to read NTSC.  And NTSC-only DVD players are fairly common.  To stay on the safe side, stick with NTSC.

American Dance Abroad still uses DVDs or at least until our supply of logo embossed DVD folders are gone! We will, though, begin to distribute more space-efficient USBs at international marketplaces.  So, how should you send us your videos?  Click here for detailed instructions.

What type of video should I send?  Obviously, follow instructions above all else.  Here are some general guidelines:  If a programmer has requested video from you, send one full length work and one excerpt with no montages or overlaid music.  Film your dances in HD and don’t downgrade the quality when you upload your video.  If you are filming a proscenium work, do so from the center of the house if possible – close enough to make out the dancers but not so close that the structure of the work is lost.


Beyond Our Borders

15 Jun

American Dance Abroad recently completed a nine-month workshop for a group of 11 NYC-based dance companies to strengthen their instincts and abilities to function in the international dance scene.  Beyond Our Borders, funded by the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, included a syllabus of issue-based content for periodic group meetings, individual coaching sessions, and travel to international meetings.  The companies included small-sized to large, and new as well as experienced institutions (e.g., Kate Weare, Keigwin & CO, Jose Limon Dance, Stephen Petronio, Ron K. Brown/Evidence).  The specific participants were Artistic Directors, Executive Directors (or Agents), and in a few cases, both attended.

Responses from the participants to the evaluation survey question, In what ways have your goals and aspirations regarding international engagement evolved as a result of participating in Beyond Our Borders? included:

  • BOB has helped demystify the international market and sharpen our focus. More direct engagement with international programmers has helped to get a better grasp of tastes and trends and understand our place in the market.
  • Beyond Our Borders provided opportunities to understand the scope of international touring and to speak with peers to learn about their international touring experiences. After completing the grant program, our international touring goals and aspirations are more realistic given our understanding of the challenges for bringing American dance abroad.
  • I have gained a more robust understanding of the marketplace(s) and a more thorough education on the best practices of international engagement.
  • I have learned many new tools in regard to marketing with international presenters, including tips on how to speak to presenters and how to market the company to fit in their venue.

American Dance Abroad hopes to offer Beyond Our Borders to artists and companies in other U.S. cities with vibrant dance communities. As an introduction, a customized one-day syllabus is being offered on Wednesday, June 17, as a pre-conference workshop to Dance/USA’s Annual Conference in Miami, Fl.

IETM Meeting in Bergamo, Italy, April 23-26, 2015

11 May

This blog post is by Andrea Snyder, American Dance Abroad’s Co-Director.

Over the past few years, American Dance Abroad has been encouraged by international colleagues to join IETM. Formerly the Informal European Theatre Meeting, it kept the moniker but changed its title to the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, and it moves its periodic gatherings to various cities throughout Europe and occasionally beyond. We recently joined as a member in 2015, and Carolelinda and I attended the IETM meeting in Bergamo, Italy, in April. Our goal is to use the network to build relationships for American dance artists and companies. Continue reading