LIFE

Ballet director debuts at Greek National Opera

NIKOS VATOPOULOS

TAGS: Dance

Composed and self-assured, Andonis Foniadakis is currently presenting his most recent dance project at the Greek National Opera, his first in his capacity as the company’s new ballet director.

“Links,” a three-part performance that premiered at the Olympia Theater on April 3, essentially signals the choreographer’s first contact with the company’s dancers. Although he officially takes over on September 1, the recent premiere came with a certain new-beginnings glow.

“It’s good to have expectations, but a sense of realism is preferable,” noted Foniadakis in an interview prior to the “Links” premiere.

Currently shunting between Athens and various other places around the world where he has ongoing choreography projects, Foniadakis transmits a sense of certainty. Perhaps this is because he himself has no certainties.

Meanwhile, although “Links” is billed as a new work, the production uses as a starting point “Selon Desir,” a choreography originally developed in 2004. In its rearranged form, the work is fused with two new choreographies to create a classical and modern hybrid hymn to freedom.

“Links” is based on music originally penned by Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. The selected works were subsequently mixed by a frequent Foniadakis collaborator, composer-musicologist Julien Tarride, who developed a cohesive music backdrop against which the choreographer explores the composers’ counterpoints and similarities.

“Baroque music is very close to the way my movement consolidates its musicality,” said Foniadakis, but although he has already worked on two operas by Jean-Philippe Rameau, he doesn’t feel quite settled.

“I’m a multifaceted artist,” noted Foniadakis. “I move from the absolute classic to the very modern. That is the nature of my work.”

Although he has worked with the music of Bach and Handel previously, in the case of “Links” his idea was a “complex environment in which both composers coexist.”

Meanwhile, an experiment is starting at the National Opera Ballet, in the sense that a group of dancers used to working in a specific way are now moving toward a perception of the world as seen by Foniadakis.

“I’m interested in each dancer’s inner instruction and exploring the ways in which they can use the technique and my spirit,” he noted.

It will be a while yet before the company’s move to its new home at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in southern Athens, but plans for the autumn season are already in the works.

“My priority is to get a sense of the potential. This requires hard work and considerable preparation. I’m hoping to bring the National Opera Ballet in touch with artists of international caliber, something which will bring long-term benefits. We must move along at a realistic pace, in other words to the extent the broader company is up to speed technically and spiritually. I’m not in any rush. In any case, violent and abrupt moves never lead to anything positive. I prefer careful steps and low-key behavior. My mandate runs for three years; I think that is plenty of time.”

Besides, the time needed for an idea or project to develop takes center stage in the choreographer’s philosophy. While the idea of ambiguity and the complementary run throughout Foniadakis’s work and the transition from fear to euphoria and innocence to sexuality take place with great ease, yet another transition is taking place as the choreographer enters a new creative phase.

“I enjoy creating, not just directing,” said Foniadakis. Given the choreographer’s interest in local talent, this new chapter in the National Opera Ballet’s history will no doubt prove to be very busy.


“Links,” at the Olympia Theater (59 Academias, tel 210.371.1200) on April 10, 19, 22 and 23. For details, visit www.nationalopera.gr.

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