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'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing' - Inspiring Children Through Dance

A group of Young Balinese Dancers in New York to attend National Dance Institute Summer Program.

(7/10/2007) 9 young Balinese dancers – led by three of Bali's senior artists Nyoman Sura, I Gusti Nengah Hari Mahardika and Ni I Made Wiratani – have just arrived in New York City to participate in the Irene Diamond Summer Institute at the National Dance Institute (NDI).

The NDI was founded in 1976 by dance legend Jacques d'Amboise to facilitate in-school workshops and public performances. [National Dance Institute]

A former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, Jacques d'Amboise believes that the arts have the power to engage and motivate individuals towards excellence. Today, the work of the National Dance Institute is internationally recognized for its services to the Arts and dance, and is the recipient of numerous awards. D'Amboise and his work at NDI was the subject of an Academy Award-winning PBS documentary film "He Makes Me Feel Like Dancing."

Since its inception, NDI has continually striven to expose its young dancers to music, dance and art from many cultures around the globe. By interacting with children from other countries, NDI participants broaden their life experiences and spark their curiosity about the world—and their place in it. NDI has touched the lives of over 2 million children from around the world. International cultural exchanges have included India, Nepal, Tibet, Africa, China, Russia, Latin America, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Mexico and now, Bali.

The initial phase of NDI’s collaboration with the Balinese dancers began in the summer of 2006 when Master NDI Teacher, Mary Kennedy, along with NDI dancer and budding choreographer, 14-year-old Jamal Wyse, completed a three-week residency in Bali. Dr. I. Wayan Dibia, Bali’s most celebrated dancer and the Professor of Dance and Choreography at the Institute of Arts in Denpasar, acted as their host and guide during their stay. Mary and Jamal immersed themselves in Balinese culture by participating in daily Balinese dance classes, exploring historical sites and attending music and dance performances. They also shared American culture with their Balinese friends by teaching jazz classes. With input from Dr. Dibia, they evaluated and chose nine students, ages 10 to 14, to come to New York City for NDI’s Irene Diamond Summer Institute, accompanied by three instructors, including Dr. Dibia’s wife, Dr. Ni Made Wiratini.

“We are thrilled to welcome our friends and fellow dancers from Bali. To see children, from opposite ends of the earth, communicating with each other through their craft is an inspiration to all of us, as educators, performers, and global citizens. For our teachers and musicians the exchange of ideas with the Balinese instructors accompanying the children has been fabulous,” said Leslee Asch, Executive Director, National Dance Institute

At the Irene Diamond Summer Institute’s intensive, month-long program, Balinese children take daily dance classes alongside approximately 100 New York City public school children, ages nine to 15, who have earned scholarships to attend. They take classes in jazz, tap, ethnic dance, music and choreography. In addition, the Balinese youngsters will assist in teaching Balinese dance and participate in the creation of an original theater piece, a combination of hip-hop and Balinese dance.

U.S. Performance Dates

The Balinese children will perform lecture demonstrations in Manhattan at the Asia Society on July 12, 2007, and will participate in Indonesian Children’s Day at The Indonesian Consulate on July 23rd. They will also participate in a residency performance at St. Joseph's College in West Hartford, Ct. on July 14th. On August 5, the children will travel upstate to the Catskill Mountain Foundation's opening ceremony for the ribbon-cutting of the Doctorow Center for the Arts and Pleshakov Piano Museum. The two-part cultural exchange with Southeast Asian artists in Bali this year was generously supported by grants from The Asian Cultural Council and the Rubin Foundation, as well as additional funds from NDI. The Indonesian Consulate has officially endorsed this project, and National Dance Institute received considerable assistance from the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce..

Travel arrangements for the Balinese delegation attending the Irene Diamond Summer Institute were facilitated by Iwata Tours and Travel and Bali Discovery Tours.

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