CULTURE

Elena Kourkouli dances along the delicate path of Sappho

She is no newcomer. Since graduating from the State Academy of Dance in the early 1990s, Elena Kourkouli has been treading a respectful path with commendable performances in productions staged by various troupes. Since 1993, Kourkouli has stuck with Roes, a troupe led by Sophia Spyratou, which is currently performing its latest production, Sappho, Ta Roda tis Pierias. The work, which premiered at the open-air Lycabettus Theater last summer, is currently playing at the Roes Theater for a limited number of shows, with Kourkouli cast in the title role. The production depicts moments in the life of the tender ancient poet Sappho, set in a garden rich with flowers, girls, music, and a giant golden tree. Through her poetry, Sappho hails beauty, love, nature, with the same magic with which she hails the unrealized, that which always escapes. My efforts, as a dancer, are to convey all these images to the members of the audience, Kourkouli said. To take him or her on a trip to a nocturnal spring celebration in Aphrodite’s holy garden. The show is based on a fusion of dance, live music, and recital. Dance for the mere sake of dance means nothing to me. I want a theme, or role, to exist. A reason for what I’m doing, Kourkouli explained. After years of performing, Kourkouli feels that she has left her art form’s fundamentals far behind, and is nowadays focused on reaching its finer qualities. I am no longer at the age when I would go onstage fearing that I may lose my balance. My aim, now, is to capture the essence of the role I’m playing and move the audience, Kourkouli said. I think technique plays a big role in this, which has the power to raise the level of a performance higher, or free the artist. But feelings of insecurity are inevitable when, for example, thoughts regarding job prospects for the next season creep into the mind, Kourkouli admitted. Job stability can only be assured if you dance for the [national] opera. Nothing is certain for the rest of us, she said. Kourkouli said she felt fortunate to be actively involved in the professional circuit. It remains uncertain whether youngsters who graduate from dance schools will end up dancing… At the end of each performance, I always tell myself all the earlier efforts were worth it; that the patience, discipline, and pain were all worth it because I was given the opportunity to express that which I love so much, Kourkouli said. Besides her role in Sappho, Ta Roda tis Pierias, she has also choreographed two children’s plays, which she intends to continue doing in the future. Being the mother of two young daughters, Kourkouli feels a natural connection with youngsters. I’ve made sacrifices for my family. But dance is a part of my life, Kourkouli said. If I were to stop, I’d lose my equilibrium.