CULTURE

Striking solo to open festival

Danish choreographer Kitt Johnson’s striking solo «Mirror,» which will open Athens’s First International Dance Festival, was first presented in a chapel in one of Copenhagen’s most atmospheric cemeteries (where personalities like Hans Christian Andersen are buried). The pioneering Danish choreographer will present the show’s «black box» version at the Technopolis arts complex in Gazi tonight. The festival includes shows by top Greek and foreign artists and workshops, and will run to July 27. «The performance is about people’s need to understand themselves through ‘journeys to reflections.’ I often work with existentialist issues, because that is what I am interested in. Such abstract issues are challenging for the body’s ability to express itself and force it to seek new ways…» said Johnson in an interview with Kathimerini. «Mirror» depicts in detail and with precision two co-existing worlds which are entirely different but also identical, one of them being in a continuous state of upheaval and the other being totally balanced. Johnson is better known as a solo performer, although her activities cover a wide range. «I didn’t decide to take up dance, it just happened,» she said. «I set out as a track and field athlete and was constantly exploring physical and mental limits. At some point it wasn’t enough and I had to move on and find new fields of observation and new connections.» Johnson, one of Denmark’s best-known contemporary choreographers, has a unique sense of the stage and has created a unique style with her particular bodily expression. She founded the X-act group, which has been working with Swedish composer Sture Ericson since 1992. She recently collaborated with Danish musician Jacob Kirkegaard and Greek artist, actor and writer Theofanis Melas. Greek audiences had the opportunity to see her award-winning performance «Stigma» at the Thiseion Theater in 2001, while a few months ago, she taught in Athens, as a guest of choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki. When asked whether she prefers dancing, choreographing or teaching, she replied that all three give her great pleasure. «They are all tools that help me approach my artistic visions. When I dance, I always interpret my own choreographies and I shorten the way to reaching my goal. When I teach, I create a laboratory, which I think is necessary for the progress of all those connected to choreography, but also for the distance that is formed when working with other bodies and whatever moves and excites these bodies. For other solo artists or groups, choreography is more difficult and demanding, but I do it with great pleasure and always with the intention of challenging and stimulating the thoughts of the body and the mind.» Athens’s First International Dance Festival will continue with shows by the Gervasi Dance Company and Yiannis Bagourdis’s «Airessis» on Wednesday, the Selfish Shellfish Dance Company on Friday, and the State Theater of Northern Greece Dance Theater on Sunday, among others.