It had remained a dream for ages – and has finally come true. The State Dance Academy’s vision of establishing a professional troupe, open not only to its own graduates but also those of dance schools from all over the country, has taken shape with performances now on at the Megaron Mousikis, or Athens Concert Hall. The newly launched troupe, named the Hellenic Dance Company, is well into a five-night run featuring excerpts of works by leading Greek choreographers. Two performances remain, tonight and tomorrow. The repertoire includes parts of «Human Thirst» by Dimitris Papaioannou, the artistic director behind the Opening Ceremony of last summer’s Athens Olympics, as well as the «Spring» portion of Constantinos Rigos’s «Five Seasons,» and choreographies by Haris Mandafounis and Valia Alexandratou prepared especially for the troupe’s dancers. The program also includes two works by British choreographer Martin Lawrence – a member of Richard Alston’s troupe – accompanied on piano by Tatiana Papageorgiou, as well as Martha Graham’s historic choreography «Diversion of Angels,» as taught to the academy’s dancers by Penny Diamandopoulou. «The Hellenic Dance Company is the result of a pilot project that lasted six years. We invited choreographers from abroad who helped with the auditions. At present, the troupe is being financed solely by the school’s budget. We still haven’t decided how we’re going to continue. We definitely need support from the Culture Ministry,» Paulina Veremi, director of the State Dance Academy, told a news conference earlier this week. Choreographer Haris Mandafounis echoed her remarks. «The situation for dance in this country is stifling. We’re talking about a new era of development for dance which is all just on paper. The reality of it all is that there are good dancers who fade away before they even blossom. They go abroad, are acknowledged for their talent, and then return to wither,» Mandafounis remarked. «The formation of a permanent institution for classical and modern dance that does not rely on other establishments, as is the case with the National Opera’s ballet, which is directly dependent on the opera’s performances, is urgently needed,» he added. For his contribution to the production over the next few days, Papaioannou, who has gained wider fame since delighting viewers worldwide with last year’s Opening Ceremony for the Olympics, noted: «It’s a desire of mine to work with these new, young dancers. I hope this collaboration gains more substance over the next few years.» Tickets can be purchased at the Athens Concert Hall box office. For further information and bookings, tel 210.728.2333.