CULTURE

Kalamata Dance Festival: Shorter but still quality-driven

?We fiercely believe that art becomes even more important during times of crisis. Today, we truly need to aspire to promises that we took for granted in the past.? These were Vicky Maragopoulou?s opening remarks at a recent press conference unveiling the program of the 17th International Kalamata Dance Festival (July 14-21). Maragopoulou is the festival?s longstanding artistic director.

Despite the Municipality of Kalamata?s financial woes and the summer festival?s budget having suffered a 40 percent cut, there is still some positive news. While the festival will be shorter in duration, with fewer productions and venues, this year?s lineup and the program?s excellent planning point to the fact that the festival?s quality and dynamic remain unaltered. Besides being a success story in the field of cultural decentralization, the Kalamata festival is considered one of Europe?s leading cultural events.

Performances displaying deep thinking, artistic maturity and a love of mankind are some of the principal ingredients of this year?s dance festival. The event will open and close with two leading names. The curtain raising production is ?Babel? (July 14), created by celebrated Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and his collaborator Damien Jalet and whose set was designed by British sculptor Antony Gormley. The performance revolves around the construction and subsequent destruction of invisible towers in a kind of reverse Babel of dreams, reconciliation and cohabitation. The festival?s finale on July 21 will present Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter and his new work, ?Political Mother,? in which 10 dancers bring to life disparate images of rebellious crowds, loving couples and desperate prisoners, among others.

Another leading component of this year?s festival is the live music that will accompany the majority of performances. One of the highlights is a co-production of the festival and Dimitris Desyllas?s percussion ensemble. The latter, in collaboration with the Sinequanon and B-Twins troupes, will present ?Projections? on July 17. Meanwhile, making her debut in Greece is leading Croatian contemporary dance choreographer Ivana Muller. Her work ?Playing Ensemble Again and Again? will be performed by the I?M?Company troupe on July 15-16. More performances include ?Dopamines of post-Athenians,? interpreted by local company Aerites (July 18), and ?L?Association fragile,? created by French choreographer and visual artist Christian Rizzo (July 20).

The program also includes numerous parallel events, including seminars, while for the first time in its history, the festival is organizing a choreography workshop featuring local dance troupes Amorphy, Lemerius, Dalika, Proschima and Fora, among others, whose efforts will result in a collective performance.

For more information on the festival, go to www.kalamatadancefestival.gr.