Send A.H. Dance Company to China

27 Jan

A few days ago I was contacted about the A.H. Dance Company– to take a look at what they were doing to promote and support independent contemporary artists and companies in New York and worldwide. At first I was a bit confused; I don’t know much about the performing arts beyond what I’ve seen in mainstream in performances and movies. However, after reading about what they’re trying to do on their Kickstarter campaign page, I was definitely interested in learning more about the company’s most recent creation, the Chameleon Project, and how they’re using dance and performance to explore the concept of global nomads.

A.H. Dance Company is a dance company in the NY area, and is led by Director Alaine Handa: a dancer, choreographer, and Third Culture Kid (TCK) who conceived of the Chameleon Project during her senior year at UCLA. Third Culture Kids are people who have spent a significant part of their developmental years outside their parents’ culture; Alaine fits this mold perfectly, having lived in Indonesia, Singapore, Los Angeles, and New York. For this reason, when she discovered that her “global nomadic tendencies” had a name, she knew she had to create a dance piece and documentary film based on this theory of global citizens. I was able to talk one on one with Alaine and truly learned a lot about what it means to be a cross culture kid. Read on:

What is Chameleon?

Chameleon is a multi-disciplinary arts presentation about global citizens who have been exposed to several cultures in their developmental years. Exploring the notions of home, cultural identity and relationships through dance with film, spoken word, theater, and photography.

How did Chameleon come about?

Alaine Handa was born in Singapore, had a childhood in Indonesia, adolescence in Singapore, went to college in Southern California and has been based in New York City for the past 5 years. She was used to saying good bye to friends every year, making new ones, seeing old friends in foreign countries while traveling, and shifting in between cultures. When she discovered there was a book and a term, Third Culture Kids*, that described her, her parents and friends, thus began her creative process into conceptualizing this experience of ‘growing up everywhere’ but belonging to ‘nowhere’.

Who is Chameleon?

The team is an amalgamation of a variety of artists, which speaks to the Chameleon Projects mission perfectly: dancers, photographers, jewelry designers, musicians, actors/actresses, playwrights, filmmakers, visual artists, and regular non-artist Third Culture Kids. These collaborators and performers have lived all over the world, from Tokyo to California, Belgium to Burma and almost everywhere in between. They’ve performed all over the New York City area, and at the Meridian International Children’s Festival and Capital Fringe Festival in Washington D.C.

What is Alaine’s goal for Chameleon?

“To provide a space for open dialogue about global citizenship between colleagues, artists, collaborators, students, and the general public. It is my hope that involving the community in performance, workshop, and discussion about the experience of third culture kids we can work towards a more peaceful world.”

What is the Chameleon Kickstarter Campaign raising money for?

The U.S.-based comtemporary dance company wants to take their show on the road and hold temporary residency at the Utahloy International School in China for one week. While there, they will host a series of workshops incorporating interpretive dance, movement and theatre focusing on the experience and exploration of the TCK concept, what it means to be a TCK, and how these emotions can be expressed through the Arts.

Why the Utahloy International School?

Utahloy International School Guangzhou is committed to excellence in education. It strives to fulfill the unique potential of students by addressing their social, emotional, intellectual and physical needs in a supportive learning environment that prepares them for life in a multi-cultural world as a global citizen. It now offers an international education from K-12 for more than 700 expatriate students who represent over 40 nationalities. The teaching staff comprises well-qualified teachers, recruited from: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S.A. It is the perfect venue for Chameleon to share their performances depicting the experiences of global citizens.

I really enjoyed learning more about this concept of third culture kids, and thinking about their experiences as global citizens, moving from one country to the next. At one point in my life I had dreams of traveling the world: put my roots down somewhere new and completely immerse myself in a different culture and become a member of a community outside what I called home. I thought of it as a glamorous lifestyle, and never actually considered what it would be like to of never made the emotional connections to family and friends that I have now. The Chameleon Project, and Alaine herself, are exploring these lost connections or even those that never began, and expressing them through dance;  it’s progressive, taking on sociological contexts and turning them into performance pieces, bridging race, religion, and social standing.

To learn more about the Chameleon Project, visit their Kickstarter page and see what they hope to do in China this February. If you’d like more information about the project and A.H. Dance Company, you can contact Alaine Handa at  ahdancecompany@gmail.com . Their next performances will take place on February 3rd and 5th at the Cool New York Dance Festival.

*To find out more about Third Culture Kids, please check out David C. Pollock and Ruth Van Reken’s book Third Culture Kids available at major bookstores worldwide. Also check out TCKid.com

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