Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Review of Chameleon from our APAP Showcase last month!

A.H. Dance Company


by Victoria Dombroski

January 8, 2010 -- Dance New Amsterdam, New York, NY

The A.H. Dance Company performed a piece of work entitled “Chameleon” at the APAP Conference Showcase at Dance New Amsterdam. This piece choreographed by Alaine Handa incorporated both dance and film to carry out a variety of notions dealing with children growing up in various countries all over the world, more than likely due to the careers of their parents demanding travel. The title of the piece “Chameleon” was perfectly proper, as it was about fitting in wherever one goes. These diverse young adults, who spent their upbringing in many different countries, spoke of issues including homesickness, multi-cultural influences, and race. Overall this amalgamation of film and dance to portray the sense of homesickness and lack of belonging to one culture was remarkable. This piece was able to bring awareness of this topic and lifestyle to an audience with true beauty and creativity.

The presentation started with a film that displayed different young adults talking about their upbringing in different parts of the world. It was fascinating to hear them speak about, for example, growing up in Japan for six years, Fiji for another two years, China for a year and a half, and finally to America, as one discussed. One young woman described herself as having the initial presence of an America, but really the Japanese culture was more in her blood than American culture. When she thinks back to what home truly is for her, she naturally thinks of where she spent most of her time growing up, which in her case was Japan. Another young man, due to his constant travel as a child, was unable to create deep connections with others. For all the speakers, their only constant in life was that they were sure they would have a new home and set of friends wherever they traveled next. Their ability to adapt to constantly changing environments became second nature.

The piece had a consistent flow between the themes in the film and the dancing on stage. At the conclusion of the first section of the film, the dancing started as a solo, using slow hand gestures of circular delicate movements in front of and above the dance’s head that almost created a dream-like atmosphere. Dressed in a Japanese-style dress, the dance moved gracefully with control and intensity about the stage. When she was on the floor she used her fingers to make it appear as a person walking, and created a circle around herself. It seemed to be symbolism for travel around the world and perhaps a wandering soul. As the piece continued with more dancers, voices spoke strongly in the background talking about lost souls not entirely having a home. The term home was considered an ambiguous term due to the constant traveling and adaptation to yet again another place to live. They spoke about this movement as creating happiness and sadness simultaneously. You create friends wherever you go next with ease because you acquire a skill in it from the constant practice, but you know that you have been quickly replaced wherever you just came from.

The dancing seemed to have a bewildered quality to it as the dancers moved their arms about their heads as if in anger and confusion. There was one phrase that was repeated a few times, “Confusion of cultures, uniquely me.” The dancers would look around themselves, searching for something that never quite seemed to be at their grasp. It was a motion of looking for that next new home and place to settle once again. The swaying arms towards the head reminded me of a bubble of confusion and there was a lot of running from corner to corner creating a panicking, uneasy emotion. The dancers would grab at the air in front of them and move through space with no sense of stability and contentment. It was that yearning for more that kept me wanting to watch and see if there would ever be a sense of resolution. The dancers were like feathers on the wind and I liked the dreamlike quality that I felt from it. At one point the dancers were using a hand shaking gesture as they moved quickly in a circle with an edgy and tense quality, reinforcing the overwhelming sensation of always being on the move with a constant change over of people.

Overall this piece was a beautiful representation of a lifestyle that is not commonly discussed or even acknowledged by most. It allowed an audience to learn about and interpret this way of life for themselves through the art of film and dance, thus leaving the audience with a unique perception of the individuals’ lives in relation to their own.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


We are in the middle of a snowstorm right now...
What better way than to spend your time making plans for the future...

Come see this project in New York City in May!
(If you're coming from out-of-town, I can even help you find cheap lodging!)

University Settlement has set up the ticketing through Brown Paper Tickets and you can purchase/reserve your tickets here:
Alternatively you can also do a search for "Alaine Handa" or "Chameleon" on

The performances are May 13, 14, 15 @ 7:30 pm each night at University Settlement's Speyer Hall theater.
184 Eldridge St (Corner of Rivington), New York, NY

Watch a preview of Yoonjung's solo below from our tech rehearsal at WAX Works performance this past fall.

WAX Works tech rehearsal, Oct. 25, 2009 from Alaine Handa on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Families in Global Transitions (FIGT) conference in Houston, TX

Join me at the 12th Annual Families In Global Transition Conference in Houston, TX on March 4-6, 2010

I am thrilled to have been selected to receive one of their prestigious David Pollock Scholarships this year! In addition I was also selected to present & perform at the conference.

Speakers and attendees registered to date will be traveling from: Brazil, Switzerland, France, Japan, Germany, Thailand, Norway, Chile, Iceland, South Africa, Canada, the UK and the United States

And will include: The World Bank, U.S. Department of State, various U.S. American Universities, European Embassy Offices, University of Switzerland, missionary workers, University of Iceland, writers, coaches, U.S. Military Branches, publishers, corporations, MIT, international schools and many more who empower individuals living abroad.

Register today and join me to become a part of this 2010 dynamic worldwide community ready to share cross-cultural education, top research and best practices to support families in global transition across all sectors. And hurry, the $110/night hotel rate only goes until Feb 16th!

Here is the description of my concurrent session at the conference:

The Expat Experience through the Arts (5B)
Alaine Handa

The arts (visual and performing) are used to experience culture as well as a form of communication and therapy. Sometimes when our world is constantly changing and we struggle to keep up, the arts can play a wonderful tool to describe your experiences and feelings in a non-verbal way. This is a lecture/demo with Third Culture Kids in the arts showing their experiences through photography, video, music, drama, and dance.

I will also be screening a short preview of "I am a TCK" film:

A Short Screening of "I am a TCK" (1B)
Alaine Handa

"I am a TCK," directed/produced by Alaine Handa, is a documentary film that includes interviews with third culture kids describing their experiences growing up among worlds, frustrations with non-TCKs upon their return to their passport country, their future plans that are affected by their TCK upbringing, and how they view the world around them. This session is a short screening of the film with a short discussion to address the issues that might happen when moving to a new country or returning "home" and the ways to cope.