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Kalamata Dance Festival celebrates 20 years

‘BADKE,’ a collaboration between Belgian and Palestinian artists, will be staged a couple of days later. The production contains elements of traditional Palestinian folk dancing, capoeira and hip hop.

By Sandra Voulgari

The first time the lights went down at the Kalamata International Dance Festival the view over the Peloponnesian city could have been a part of the performance’s set design.

Twenty years on, under the artistic direction of Vicky Maragopoulou, the annual event has had a fabulous ride, a journey filled with happy memories, including many moments that emerged from its parallel journey juxtaposing developments in international contemporary dance against today’s constantly evolving daily life.

As the event celebrates this special milestone it seems like the festival’s artists and audience have grown up together. This year’s program is billed as one of the best in the festival’s history – the event’s curtain raiser on July 17 featuring Jiri Kylian’s “Dogs and Gods” performed by the Nederlands Dans Theater 2 (a second show takes place on July 18) attests to that. The work earned the Dutch Swan Award for the most impressive dance production in 2009.

One of the themes being explored at this year’s festival is the idea of expatriation, both geographical and existential, as well as man’s relationship with nature. In Christian Rizzo’s “Sakinan Goze Cop Batar” (An Overprotected Eye Always Gets Sand in It), Turkish dancer Kerem Gelebek delivers a highly sensitive performance as he explores the hardships and isolation experienced by immigrants.

The idea of coexistence comes across in “BADKE,” a collaboration between Belgian and Palestinian artists, featuring elements of traditional Palestinian folk dancing, capoeira and hip hop (shows take place on July 19-20). A KVS les ballets C de la B & A.M. Qattan Foundation production, “BADKE” was developed by choreographer Koen Augustijnen, playwright Hildegard De Vuyst and dancer-choreographer Rosalba Torres Guerrero in association with 10 Palestinian dancers.

Up next is Mette Ingvartsen’s “Evaporated Landscapes,” a production based on the notion of an immaterial and timeless world, a universe comprising ephemeral, unattainable materials, sounds, light, bubbles and foam (July 20).

The festival’s Greek entries include the Aerites dance troupe performing “Planites” (Planets), choreographed by Patricia Apergis (July 22), as well as a dance performance for children, “Petrosoupa” (Stone Soup), featuring music by Stathis Gyftakis and choreography by Dimitris Sotiriou. A Greek Festival production, “Stone Soup,” brings the Kalamata festival to an end on July 24.

Parallel events include a contemporary dance workshop led by Marta Coronado, a dramaturgy workshop headed by Hildegard De Vuyst, a choreography workshop by the Syndesmos Chorou association and an improvisation and composition workshop presented by the Creo Company-Duncan Center. Also Syndesmos Chorou dance professionals have asked Kalamata residents to contribute in their own way to a performance scheduled to take place in various locations around the city. Through narrative, photographic material, letters, documents and other creative means, the people of Kalamata are invited to share their own experiences with the festival’s friends.

Kalamata International Dance Festival, July 17-24, www.kalamatadancefestival.gr. For more information, call 27210.83.086/90.886.

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