Monday, March 21, 2011

Another busy day in Mongolia

Wednesday morning Connie and Miyako both taught classes to college students at separate institutions. The students were very enthusiastic and eager to learn this modern dance form that they had never been exposed to before.

Connie demonstrates

The students picked up the movement quickly

Group photo

Dancers' dirty feet, comes with the territory

In the afternoon Connie, Miyako and Laura joined up with the American cultural attache in Mongolia, Marissa Maurer and translator Uyanga (who is sight impaired) and had a wonderful visit the School of the Hearing Impaired, a kindergarten through 12th grade government-funded school. They met with the school's principal who told them all about the curriculum and vocational training and gave them a tour of the classrooms and training centers. She told them that dance is a very important part of curriculum. They then received a warm welcome from the students in the auditorium and were treated to a marvelous performance by students of all ages. The dances ranged from traditional Mongolian dance to cha cha cha to Bollywood. It was well done and great fun.

Marrisa, Miyako, the school principal, Connie and Uyanga (with Gladys)

Speech therapy class

Our warm welcome

Students waiting to perform

A dance that told a story about a family

Mongolian folk dance

A young, graceful contortionist

The talented students

After the performance Miyako and Connie and Marissa held a question and answer session with the students. The students asked for advice and criticism. Connie and Miyako gave some notes, emphasizing how amazing they were as dancers and how successful their teachers were and stressing that a sense of community formed by learning and sharing is so important to dancers. There was some discussion on what opportunities there might be for dance performance and education in America.
Question and answer session

On the other side of town Dana, Sarah, Kelly taught a modern technique class for the Moon Stone Dance Company of Ulaanbaatar. Moon Stone is a folkloric dance company with dancers who cross-train in ballet and have had some modern dance. They were very excited to participate in class and eager to talk about their lives as dancers and to find out how American dancers make a living.Sarah and Kelly then taught six of their dancers a duet from DTSB&Co repertoire.

Later in the afternoon Kelly and Sarah spoke to 80 teenagers interested in American dance culture as part of the Access program (the English Access Microscholarship Program of the U.S. State Department), which is a special after-school English teaching program for economically challenged students, most of whom live in the ger district which houses in-country migrant workers.

Ger district

In the evening the company and Marrisa met up with Otgon US ambassador to Mongolia Jonathon Addleton and his wife to talk about the trip so far and eat Mongolian food. On the way over to the restaurant Kelly, Sarah and Dana stopped to snap pictures in the expansive Sukhbaatar Square.

Dana in Sukhbaatar Square, which features a large statue of Chinggis Khan

Kelly, Sarah, Dana and Jonathon Addleton, US ambassador to Mongolia

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