Stirring dance’s still waters

Amid this winter season’s frozen local dance activity, one troupe, Yelp, is bravely forging its way forward with intriguing work. Founded in London in 1996 by Mariella Nestora, Yelp moved to Greece two years ago. The team’s latest production, «Strifoma» (Stitch), ends tonight with a final performance at the Ergostasio venue (268 Vouliagmenis Ave, 9.30 p.m.). Its preview had been staged at the large-scale Club 22, a major club attraction, to generate publicity amid a diversified audience beyond the dance circuit’s confines. Based on six characters – Jeremy, Eliza, Sebastian, Lily, Francoise – and an anonymous figure, all common folk, the performance examines their lives and interactions. In comments to Kathimerini, Nestora, a former geneticist and biologist, said her work examines «the way we imagine others, how we express ourselves, collaborate, and clash – the relationships of power between two people, a group, or between a group and an individual,» Nestora explained. «’Stitch’ depicts our subconscious and conscious tendency to cut and paste others in accordance with our personal desires.» Nestora, formerly active in medicine, photography, and the theater, said that, through dance, she experiences common links with her previous faculties. «Choreography is theater, photography, movement,» she said. The troupe has struggled financially, Nestora said, but is now receiving subsidies for the first time. «Dance in Greece has many problems. It’s not just a matter for the troupes, but the priorities at the Culture Ministry and the public’s perception,» she contended. «In recent years, many people from theater have shown interest, but they represent a minority. One of the objectives of the performance at Club 22 was to widen the horizons and attract a different type of audience,» she added. Overall, Nestora said, Yelp is making a conscientious effort to attract outsiders. «We’re interested in performing at venues that are not traditionally associated with dance – even outdoors – and presenting productions to people who do not frequent choreography events,» Nestora said. «We’re striving to find a language and a non-verbal code of communication. I believe that, at a dance performance, the audience engages different parts of its mind and soul than it does in film and theater. Above all, people are the main focus of our troupe – their relationships within themselves and others,» she added. A versatile troupe whose repertory includes solo and duet performances, video, new technologies, and abstract dance, Yelp, Nestora stressed, strives to evolve. «Every work seeks to find another language – it’s never the same. My work has changed considerably. Despite that, I always apply improvisation when I choreograph,» Nestora said. «A dancer is a creator on stage.»

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