CULTURE

An all-season dance traveler in Athens

“I always enjoyed dancing at clubs. One night, a musician came up to me out of the blue and told me that I ought to become involved with dance.» That is how Amalia Bennett’s dance career started. Ten years ago, after completing her studies in London, she left her homeland. Along with Greek choreographer Antigone Gyra, they founded the Kinitiras dance group. When she came to Athens, she met well-known Greek choreographer Constantinos Rigos; the public has enjoyed her presence on stage numerous times, both as a dancer and as Rigos’s permanent assistant. Last year, she staged her own show for the first time in Thessaloniki: The show «Equus,» a production by the State Theater of Northern Greece Dance Theater, was put on stage once more at the beginning of January. As of last week and up to this Sunday, she is dancing in Athens at the Hora Theater in Rigos’s latest work «Winter Traveler,» where she also worked, once more, as an assistant. Bennett was born in London in 1968. She lived for some time in Scotland and started studying dance at the age of 21 at the Laban Center for Movement and Dance. «I wish I had taken on dancing sooner,» said Bennett in an interview with Kathimerini. While working with the State Theater of Northern Greece Dance Theater and the OKTANA dance group, she also worked as assistant choreographer in productions by the National Theater of Greece and the State Theater of Northern Greece. In the past few years, she has also been teaching movement at the State Theater of Northern Greece’s drama school. «I like variety and I enjoy being a dancer, a teacher and a choreographer. I will try to combine everything for as long as I can,» she said. Speaking of her experience with «Winter Traveler,» she described it as a personal journey. «The show is about 12 people on stage. There is so much loneliness in this production… It feels like being the last person on earth in a snowy landscape. Every day, I experience another story. Every day is different.» Regarding her own show «Equus (:Four Good Legs to Stand On),» she said that Rigos gave her the necessary push to go ahead with it. «It was based on the play by Peter Shaffer, which was later made into a film directed by Sidney Lumet and featuring Richard Burton and Joan Plowright. It is the story of a child who blinded six horses in an incomprehensible act of violence. The psychologist who took on the case discovered the imaginary world the child had created, where horses dominated.» Bennett was inspired by the images of technical utopia in American advertisements. The Far West and cowboys with their horses are some of the images used to sell cigarettes. The movement of the dancers on stage is overshadowed by a giant-sized Marlboro poster. «I borrowed things from the play. A woman hangs from the ceiling like Pegasus, then there is the boy who changes roles (sometimes, becoming the horse and at others, the rider), as well as the boy’s views on sex and God, as seen through the horse. The horse itself represents freedom.» «Equus» is scheduled to be performed in Athens in the spring, within the context of the «Months of Dance» series. Amalia Bennett leads a busy life, full of rehearsals, teaching and photography sessions. «What does dance mean to me? It is part of me. It is like asking me about breathing, my mother or what ground I stand on.»