Modern dance lovers in Greece have eagerly awaited Kalamata’s 12th International Dance Festival, which will run from July 14 to 23. This year’s program, which was announced at a recent press conference by the festival’s artistic director, Vicky Marangopoulou, is more extensive than any other year and features 11 dance companies from eight different countries. This year is also decisive for the city of Kalamata, as just a few months ago Minister of Culture Giorgos Voulgarakis signed a contract earmarking 480,000 euros every year, for three years, to the Kalamata International Dance Center. As Marangopoulou pointed out, having the money on time is more important than the actual amount. «I think that Kalamata’s International Dance Center has an undisputed role in the development of dance. What is equally undisputed is that it deserves the opportunity to develop even further,» said Voulgarakis, who was present at the press conference. The minister of culture expressed his support for Greek dance in general. «Although the annual budget did not contain any provisions for funds for dance for the 2005-2006 period, I decided, taking into consideration current needs, to provide the money required. The committee will evaluate this year’s 56 applications very promptly, as soon as one the members that have resigned is replaced.» The festival will kick off with Vivaldi’s «Four Seasons,» choreographed by distinguished choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, on July 14 and 15. Yasmeen Godder will bring the public a taste of the contemporary Israeli dance scene on July 15 and 16, while David Zambrano, a dancer and choreographer of Venezuelan descent, will present, along with Greece’s Ermis Malkotsis, the duet «Maza-Dama» on July 15, 16 and 20. This year’s Greek participants include Zoe Dimitriou, Fotis Nikolaou and Cyprus’s Alexandra Waierstall (July 17, 18 and 19). South Africa’s Via Katlehong will present a program celebrating the end of Apartheid on July 16; Belgium’s Peeping Tom will stage «Le Salon» on July 20 and 21, and Portugal’s Sonia Baptista will perform on July 21 and 22. The festival will end with Austria’s Chris Haring and Israel’s Emmanuel Gat.