We are all eagerly awaiting the beginning of this year’s International Dance Festival at Kalamata, one of the summer’s most prominent dance events. The festival, which kicks off on Friday and will run to July 23, boasts the participation of 11 dance companies from nine different countries and 20 performances and celebrates its 12th anniversary this year. Shows have been scheduled to take place at the Castle Amphitheater, the Cultural Center and even the gym of the city’s former high school. In the meantime, seminars will once again be taking place at Kalamata’s National Stadium; they will be conducted by David Zambrano, who will perform as part of the festival. Rich program Opening its doors to new scenes, this year’s festival will welcome artists from Portugal and Austria, two countries which have had a sizzling dance scene for the past couple of years. The program also includes artists and groups from France, Belgium, South Africa, the Netherlands, Israel, Cyprus and Greece. When talking about the Kalamata International Dance Festival, one should keep in mind that it is an institution which earned its place on the international dance scene through years of effort but has succeeded in becoming a major force outside the capital. A dozen years ago it started sowing the seeds of interest for the international dance scene at a time when the Greek scene lacked any such institutions. With the Greek dance scene currently much more prominent and featuring various larger or smaller festivals and events, Kalamata’s festival maintains a unique presence. Under the highly skillful artistic direction of Vicky Marangopoulou, it continues to transmit to the Greek public all the various tendencies of modern dance, as clearly as possible, hoping to encourage dialogue between the audience and the artists but also the communication and exchange of ideas between the different artists. Focusing on variety and on highlighting differences in dance according to geography and artistic creation, the festival’s program will feature all sorts of different performances which will reflect the vibrance and power of the dance scene. The event will kick off with a performance choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj to Vivaldi’s «Four Seasons,» on Friday and Saturday. The renowned choreographer, who is also well known to the Greek public, will visit Kalamata with a group of extraordinary dancers and sets especially designed by award-winning artist Fabrice Hyber. Up-and-coming choreographer Yasmeen Godder will present her high-quality performance «Two Playful Pink» on Saturday and Sunday, revealing another aspect of Israel’s dance scene which local dance fans are already familiar with. David Zambrano, who is of Venezuelan descent but has been a member of the Amsterdam dance community for years, has created the duet «Maza-Dama» for himself and Ermis Malkotsis from Greek dance company Sinequanon. Zambrano is also well known as a dance teacher and an imaginative choreographer regarding improvisations. The duet, inspired by soul music, will be staged on Saturday, Sunday and July 20. Via Katlehong will take the audience on a journey to South Africa, with rebellious dances against the Apartheid regime rooted in a tradition of the Zulu tribe. The performance, titled «Nkulukelo,» will take place on Sunday. Next up are two choreographers who, despite their young age, are being distinguished in Europe: Greece’s Zoe Dimitriou, a London-based choreographer and researcher, will present her penetrating solo «Can You See Me?» along with Cyprus’s Alexandra Waierstall’s sensitive solo «Affect» in a single performance on July 17 and 19. Other than Zoe Dimitriou, Fotis Nikolaou is also part of this year’s performing young artists; he will present «Not Yet» with his company X-it on July 18. Belgium will make its presence felt with Peeping Tom’s performance «Le Salon,» a hard show about decay and decadence, which will move and provoke but also initiate discussions on longstanding social issues. It will go on stage on July 20 and 21. Portugal’s Sonia Baptista will do a special show with script, movement and videos, which will blend the aesthetics of the Far East and the West in a personal world full of feminine memories. Her show «Icebox Fly. Winter Kick,» which will be performed on July 21 and 22, will open up the Greek public to the Portuguese scene, which has taken over Europe with its originality and sensitivity. Chris Haring’s performance «Kind of Heroes,» a game of identities between three shy characters, will reveal another experimental scene, that of Austria, on July 22 and 23. Finally, Emmanuel Gat will close the festival with a diptych of refreshing choreographies on landmark compositions for modern dance: Schubert’s four lieder «Winter Journey» and Igor Stravinsky’s «The Rite of Spring.» The production will be staged on July 23. For information: tel 27210.83086.