Saturday, May 2, 2009

Step Up 3: The Embassies

Looks like the State Department's ready to dance... or at least to use dance as a vehicle for cultural diplomacy. State's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and Brooklyn Academy of Music announced plans to launch DanceMotion USA to send dance companies on international tours. In a press conference on April 29, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Professional and Cultural Exchanges Alina L. Romanowski announced the three lucky dance companies that will begin the program in 2010:

1. Evidence, A Dance Company, based in Brooklyn, New York, will tour South Africa, Nigeria, and Senegal.
2. ODC/Dance, based in San Francisco, California, will tour Thailand, Burma and Indonesia.
3. Urban Bush Women, also Brooklyn-based, will tour Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia.

Of course, these three dance companies weren't just lucky. They were chosen strategically to reflect values that the State Department wants to communicate through its cultural diplomacy. Both Brooklyn-based dance companies, for example, emphasize the experiences of African diaspora communities in the U.S. In its mission statement, Urban Bush Women states:
Urban Bush Women (UBW) seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. We do this from a woman-centered perspective, as members of the African Diaspora community, in order to create a more equitable balance of power in the dance world and beyond...

The State Department's decision to create DanceMotion USA provides a global platform for these untold and under-told histories to be communicated.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Allison (and other contributors)
    Thanks for a great blog!

    Just a thought: Do you know if there exists a US "cultural/public diplomacy" strategy and how it is organised e.g. as administrative unit in the State Department?

    I am very interested in whether these soft power activities are centrally and planned by the US State Dep. or if it's simply random ad hoc initiatices - what do you think?

    BTW, there exists a new "SOFT POWER NETWORK" at Linkedin, which might have your interest. Some of the first members are scholars and professionals from Harvard Kennedy School, Sciences Po Paris, and UN University of Advanced Studies.

    The purpose is to exchange ideas, experiences, and research about ‘Soft Power’ in both theory and practise. Your knowledge and perspectives on Public and Cultural Diplomacy are very relevant.

    Simply search "soft power network" on or click this link:

    Best Regards, Steffen