Company | E was founded for international engagement, most often in parts of the world where Americans are only known by the way they are portrayed on local news. Working most often with the U.S. Department of State, the Company serves as cultural diplomats. The dancers, musicians, storytellers and craftsmen of Company | E bring people closer together, supporting the belief that there is more that unites us, especially on a people-to-people level, than divides us.
In April of 2015, Company | E staged the first cultural programs supported by the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba in the new, though short-lived, era of diplomatic cooperation between the US and Cuba. Over the last decade we have created half a dozen extended programs in Russia in the midst of a deepening freeze between Washington and Moscow. The Company has brought its art, its talent, and its commitment to dialogue and mutual understanding to the Diplomatic fore on five continents in partnership with the U.S. Department of State.
A partial list of Company E's programs with the Department encompass the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Madagascar, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, Russia, China, Cuba, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, the Republic of Georgia and the United Kingdom.
"This is the work the Company was built to do," writes Paul Gordon Emerson, the Company's Executive and Co-Artistic Director. Cultural Diplomacy is not about getting a plane, doing a few concerts and a few dance classes and coming home. It's about trying to engage, to share, to listen and to learn. Its about the time spent working side-by-side, not from across the divide between audience and artist."
CASE STUDIES - A DEEPER LOOK
What happens on a Cultural Diplomacy Tour? They're unique experiences, country-by-country and often day-by-day. Here's an inside look at just a few.
Perhaps no single diplomatic transition since the end of the Cold War was as dramatic as the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The deepest and coldest holdover from that Cold War era, our neighbor 90 miles to the south was, and remains, a flashpoint.
While the Trump Administration has undone much of what President Obama's normalization was meant to do, the excitement, and the profound possibilities, were the reason the Department of State came to Company | E to be the first cultural program to come to Cuba under the U.S. flag in 60 years.
The Company spent two weeks in Havana in 2015, breaking barrier after barrier, performing and teaching in places which would have been impossible a month earlier. A year later, Company | E returned to Cuba, this time moving outside of Havana and dancing in cities which hadn't seen an American since 1960.
The Company has deep hopes of returning, and building on, the work done. The video below offers a glimpse into Company | E's days in Cuba.
TBILISI, REPUBLIC of GEORGIA
A TAMADA IN MAHATTAN
The challenges faced by the people of Georgia in their pursuit of democracy are endless.
When Company | E was asked to create a new partnership with, and a new evening-length work for the Movement Theater of Tbilisi, Paul Gordon Emerson, Company | E's Executive and Co-Artistic Director created a show which combined Georgian traditions with 1960s New York, highlighting political and societal challenges in Georgia today with the U.S. 50 years ago. Bringing in a U.S. choreographic and muisical team, working with two dozen Georgian artists, the outcome is a show which has become a mainstay of the Movement Theater's repertoire.
The language might be the same, but little else is between Uruguay and Cuba. The U.S. could not have more different relations with these two nations. Yet the goal was very much the same in our trips to Uruguay. Meet. Engage. Teach. Learn. Exchange.
Company | E's three week program in Montevideo centered on our signature BROADWAY BOUND program, an interdisciplinary music, dance, theater engagement in which half a dozen members of the Company and our musical team bring the magic of the Broadway stage to in-country artists. In Montevideo that meant a full orchestra, a choir of 100 and a dance cast of 50, drawing from all over Uruguay to create the wonder of the Great White Way in the Southern Hemisphere.
Russia. Nowhere has culture played a more critical role in creating and maintaining dialogue. Throughout the Cold War Culture was a key two-way tool that attempted to humanize two populations separated by a profound political and military divide. Until the Russian invasion of Ukraine n February '22 culture held its place along the path to understanding and dialogue. That dialogue, like so much of Russia's relationship to the world, fell by the wayside with the invasion.
Before the Russian Invation of Ukraine, Company | E had made six extended trips to Russia, with four in the Urals region since 2015, working in a dozen cities large and small, creating workshops, concerts and programs to use the magic of American art to bridge the divide perpetuated by distance and dissonant media.
In 2022 the Company was scheduled to return to Orenburg to write and stage an entirely new musical for the Musical Comedy Theater, crafting an orinal story set to a suite of the great Broadway songs.
Here's a snapshot of a single day in Yekaterinburg, part of a series of videos ED/Co-AD and film-maker Paul Emerson created of our time in the dead of winter in the heart of Russia.
Another take on Cultural Diplomacy comes with the view of what we take home with us. How does a place seem which is at once so very far away and yet, through film, right before our eyes. This look at Shanghai, from back in 2011, is a different type of snapshot of our journey into the world.
These four takes on our work overseas are just a glimpse. There are literally dozens of additional programs to explore.
"The MC builds and supports whole-child learning...instilling the values of self-discipline and team building."
- Roseanna B. MC Parent
The Company | E Movement Center for Dance Education teaches the next generation both the technique and the joy of movement.
"...exactly the kind of work we had imagined when creating the Performances for Young Audiences series, elegantly combining multiple art forms including modern dance, classical music, storytelling, visual arts, and theater."
-- David Kilpatrick, Director, Education Programs and Productions. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.