CULTURE

Blending cultures from around the world in music, dance, circus, theater

For the seventh year running, the city of Volos will be hosting its impressive International Music Theater Festival, showcasing hip-hop and street dance shows, a performance by a pioneering mime group from Germany, a concert of ballads and a display by one of the world’s greatest jugglers, among other highlights. Running from December 8 to January 5, this rich and diverse program of events has been put together by the Volos Center of Musical Theater. Its artistic director, Dimitris Marangopoulos, said at a recent press conference: «This is a panorama of the performing arts in which dance, cinema, live music and multimedia all coexist. «We are interested in the performing arts as a medium in which many different artistic elements come into use. In this day and age, many different forms of art are being combined and we are therefore starting to see completely new forms of expression. We want to cultivate these forms both on our own and in working with others. «We have begun something that relates to a broad range of age groups and, at the same time, this year we have placed emphasis on the festival’s educational character with a series of seminars,» added Marangopoulos. Events are to start on December 8 with a concert at the Volos Municipal Theater of songs from Greek cinema by acclaimed Greek singer Dimitra Galani, accompanied by the Volos Symphony Orchestra. Her performance will be complemented by the screenings of extracts from the films whose scores Galani is to sing. After a successful run at last year’s Kalamata International Dance Festival, French hip-hop group Kafig returns to Greece for three nights (December 14, 15 and 16) with a performance titled «Recital.» Fun and energetic, «Recital» blends hip-hop with North African and Andalusian rhythms and lyrics, classical violin and an electronic talk box. New York’s Urban Tap takes over on December 21 and 22 with a show created by dancer and artist Tamango. Essentially a multicultural jam session, the show «Full Cycle» is a unique combination of the Brazilian martial arts/dance capoeira, break-dancing, jazz and hip-hop, framed by video projections of previous performances worldwide. Nijinsky of juggling The highlight of this year’s festival, however, is a three-night appearance (December 28, 29 and 30) by American juggler Michael Moschen. Dubbed by the New York Times as «the Nijinsky of juggling,» Moschen has acquired an impressive reputation at an international level for his mastery of the art of juggling and his impressive stage designs. The New Year (January 2 and 3) will be ushered in by the German mime group Floz, who will be staging «Ristorante Immortale,» for the second time in Greece, following last April’s performance at Thessaloniki’s Amalia Theater. This performance is set in a fantasy restaurant where five masked figures repeat the process of sitting down to eat without ever really eating, in an allegorical tale that combines elements of music, comedy, dance and acrobatics. Last but not least, the acclaimed French art circus Cirque de Masque will draw the festival to a close on January 4 and 5 with a show titled «Fire and Ice.» Aimed at thrill seekers of all ages, the show gives a sophisticated artistic twist to classic circus acts by enriching the repertoire of tricks and acrobatics with clever choreography, music, original costumes, lighting tricks and impressive props. Educational aspects Within the context of the festival, the organizers have invited their guest artists to hold seminars in their fields of expertise. Held at the old power station of Volos (Palaia Electriki), the seminars will start on December 17 with members of the Urban Tap group discussing the structure and execution process of their performance as it relates to the combination of different art forms. This seminar will also focus on multimedia equipment’s use and application as a means of enhancing a performance. On December 18, Urban Tap’s director and choreographer, Tamango, will hold a dance class in which he will put on a display of tap-dancing, freestyle dance and capoeira, followed by a lecture the next day on «Improvisations and Compositions with the Music of Different Cultures.» The Floz mime group will give a seminar on January 2 and 3 on the use of the mask in theater, especially how to use the body as a tool of expression when the face is hidden. Interested parties should sign up for classes well in advance, as they are expected to be quite popular. Information on the costs are available from the organizers. Volos Center of Musical Theater, tel 24120.781.64 (website: www.volosfestival.gr).