Dancing to Connect for Refugee Integration

Dancing to Connect for Refugee Integration
Freiburg, July 18, 2017

CDA Kent Logsdon

Vielen Dank Friederike.  Ich möchte mich auch beim großartigen Team des Deutsch-Amerikanischen Instituts bedanken, das sich so unermüdlich für den Erfolg dieses neuen Dancing-to-Connect-Projektes eingesetzt hat.  Ein ganz besonderer Dank geht an Uta Schröder, die diese Veranstaltung koordiniert und organisiert hat.  Man spürt, dass Ihnen das eine Herzensangelegenheit war.  Die Battery Dance Company ist zurück in Freiburg.  Vielen Dank, Freiburg, für die Gastfreundschaft, die Sie diesen wunderbaren Künstlern entgegenbringen.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend Jonathan Hollander and his dancers for all that they do to promote intercultural understanding.  Over the past twenty years, the Battery Dance Company has performed in over 60 countries on 6 continents.  It is a dance troupe of international renown.  But what makes the Battery Dance truly incredible is its commitment to the Dancing to Connect initiative that it launched over a decade ago.

Both my wife Michelle and I have devoted our careers to diplomacy.  We have both seen many worthwhile and gratifying examples of cultural diplomacy.  Well, Battery Dance is cultural diplomacy – dance diplomacy – at its best.  It brings people together through creativity and team building.  As Jonathan Hollander says: “You can’t dance with someone you don’t trust.”

In my opinion, that is the key to the Battery Dance’s success as an agent of change and social action.  In cooperation with the U.S. State Department and a range of cultural and humanitarian organizations, the company’s teaching artists have conducted workshops in conflict zones, including Iraqi Kurdistan, where have brought together Kurds, Shia, Sunni and Christians.  Dancing to Connect has held workshops with mixed groups of Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem; of Protestants and Catholics in Belfast, of HIV and AIDS positive adults and non-positive adults in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dancing to Connect has held workshops focused on providing hope, confidence, leadership and life skills to the least advantaged youth in society.   It has conducted sessions focused on combating xenophobia and ending discrimination whether it be based on religion, nationality, ethnicity, age, or class. It has shown how public perceptions of the disabled can be changed, and brought attention to the needs of disabled communities around the world.

And since 2016, Battery Dance has worked closely with the Consulate in Frankfurt and our Embassy in Berlin on a number of projects focused on refuges integration that we have been happy to support.  The performance we are about to see is the result of just such a workshop here in Freiburg.  And so, the young German students and their newly arrived classmates from war-torn countries, alongside the accomplished artists from Battery Dance, are the real stars this evening.

They are all part now of a broader community, not just here in Freiburg, but a global Dancing to Connect community.

Denn so wie Dancing to Connect eine Verbindung zu den Ländern herstellt, die es besucht, vermittelt das Projekt auch ein Bewusstsein für die Welt insgesamt und eine Offenheit für unterschiedliche Kulturen.  Dies ist die Inspiration und die Leidenschaft, die Jonathan und seine Tänzerinnen und Tänzer antreibt – und daraus können wir alle etwas lernen.

Noch einmal vielen Dank an alle, die zu Dancing to Connect 2017 hier im wunderschönen Freiburg beigetragen haben. Wir in der US-Vertretung in Deutschland freuen uns, Sie unterstützen zu können.