Kalamata puts on its dancing shoes

This year’s Kalamata International Dance Festival, which will take place between July 16 and 25th, promises to be as exciting as always – all the more so as it is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Dedicated to world-renowned dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown, the 2004 program of events will feature representatives from all areas of dance, most of whom have redefined dance in their individual ways, as well as two Greek groups. This year’s big surprise will be the very first «off-festival» – still in the works – and there are hopes that it will take place throughout the city. Assessing the festival’s achievements over the past 10 years, organizer Vicky Marangopoulou referred to the progress that has been made in terms of numbers at a recent press conference. «There have been 50 performances by foreign dance groups, about half of which were carried out in collaboration with embassies and foreign culture ministries and 32 of which were premieres.» She added that the festival has not only introduced major personalities on the international dance scene to the Greek public, but has also enabled Greek groups to present their work alongside foreign artists, creating bridges of communication, and thus paving the way for future collaborations. The Kalamata International Dance Festival has succeeded in becoming one of Greece’s major annual events, a fact reinforced by the presence of Deputy Minister of Culture Petros Tatoulis at the press conference. It has also gained a sound reputation abroad, as representatives of the French Institute in Athens and the British Council pointed out. «The fact that newer festivals were born out of the Kalamata Festival is a big tribute to Kalamata,» said French Institute Cultural Attache Fanny Aubert-Malaurie. With that in mind, the Municipality of Athens’s recent initiative to host another dance festival along the same lines and at the same time is surprising and perplexing. «We welcome the effort to organize a new festival, but we are concerned that it is scheduled to take place at the same time as the Kalamata Festival,» Marangopoulou said when asked about it. She added that they are in contact with the municipality to discuss the issue. The festival will open on July 16 with French choreographer Philippe Decoufle, who shot to fame after successfully organizing the ceremonies for the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992. Decoufle, who has performed in Kalamata before, will present «Solo,» a show of distortions and illusions inspired by the world of the circus, combining dance, cinema and music. Britain’s up-and-coming urban dance choreographer Irven Lewis and his group will present «Ignite» on July 17 and 18, a show combining jazz, street dance, ballet and modern dance. «Urban dance is an important movement, a sociological phenomenon that changed neighborhoods and suburbs,» said Marangopoulou. Michael Clark, the bad boy of British dance, will present «Oh, My Goddess» with his group in his first appearance at Kalamata on July 18. The performance uses a wide range of music, from T-Rex and PJ Harvey to Erik Satie. Two Greek productions will follow: Constantinos Rigos’s «Winter Traveler,» a reference to Schubert’s lieder compositions, will be staged on July 21. The performance is a co-production by the State Theater of Northern Greece Dance Theater and the Oktana Dance Theater. Top experimental dance group Sine Qua Non will perform a show of internal exploration that includes live singing and percussion on July 21 and 22. French «non-dance idiom» expert Jerome Bel, in his second visit to Kalamata, will present «The Show Must Go On,» a commentary on spectacle and entertainment which involves a lot of people on stage but uses neither sets nor costumes, on July 23. Belgian creator Jan Fabre, known thus far to the Greek public for his artwork which he exhibited at the «Outlook» exhibition earlier this year, will stage «Angel of Death,» an installation/dance theater performance which combines the work of Fabre, William Forsythe and Andy Warhol, on July 23 to 25. Fabre will appear at Kalamata for the first time. The Trisha Brown Dance Company will perform on the last day of the festival, July 25. Brown, this year’s honored guest, will present her 1983 choreography «Set and Reset,» which established her on the international dance scene, the 2003 work «Present Tense,» commissioned for the Cannes Festival, and «Groove and Countermove.» The shows of Philippe Decoufle and Jerome Bel will take place in collaboration with the French Institute in Athens and those of Michael Clark and Irven Lewis in collaboration with the British Council. The festival will also include video dance projections of Monteverdi’s opera «Orfeo,» choreographed by Trisha Brown, and work by Decoufle on July 19 and 20, as well as seminars with Keren Levi, to be held between July 15 and 25. The first fringe festival, an initiative which will be warmly welcomed but which still has to be finalized, will consist of unfledged groups staging events around the city throughout the entire festival. Admission to those events will be free. Finally, Marangopoulou pointed out that although over the past 10 years the festival has greatly increased its activities as well as its costs and revenues, state funding has remained the same. When asked about this, Tatoulis said that the ministry intends to carry out an evaluation and seek new funds. For further information, contact the Kalamata International Dance Center, situated at 6 P. Kaissari, Kalamata (tel 27210.83086/90886). For ticket information and credit card bookings, call 27210.85015/85034.