Dancing the American Dream

Three leading Greek choreographers have been invited by the National Opera to present their individual understanding of the American Dream at the Acropol Theater. Constantinos Rigos, Fotis Nikolaou and Zoe Dimitriou have come together and created a triptych, which premiered last week and will run on May 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. For Dimitriou the American Dream is all about speed. Taking an abstract and formalist approach, the choreographer uses music by minimalist pioneer Stephen Reich to create «Limen.» «The object,» explains Dimitriou, «is to create structures that correspond to what America is today, which to me, is the result of formalist relationships. The piece is more abstract, minimalist, than symbolic or theatrical.» The young choreographer – who made a stunning debut at the Kalamata International Dance Festival, drawing the attention of National Opera Ballet Director Lynne Seymour – studied at the National School of Ballet in Greece and under Trisha Brown in New York. In 2005, she completed postgraduate studies at the Laban Center for Contemporary Dance in London. She wowed audiences and critics in Greece from her very first collaborations with the Horeftes and Lathos Kinisi ensembles, while she has also worked with acclaimed choreographers in New York and London. Dimitriou also teaches at the Laban Center, the Rambert Dance Company and Independence Dance. For Fotis Nikolaou, «the Statue of Liberty is tired of standing, a cheerleader is bored of smiling, a baseball player wants to throw down his glove, and an empty room,» is how he describes his choreography, «Lonely Rooms.» «I tried to transport the great American Dream into a single room and to sense the loneliness tired people bring out behind closed doors,» he explains. «I drew from my experience of living as a student in New York, that huge place with so many contradictions that makes you think it can fit an infinite number of things. A huge puzzle with unbelievable loneliness. That’s what I focused on. The piece took a political slant on its own. I’ve chosen certain symbols, American emblems that are easy to recognize. I use them in passing and look more at what is behind them – the do’s and don’ts. We are stuck on the American Dream, but that’s just a pretext. It could just as easily be the Greek dream,» he says. Nikolaou also graduated from the National School of Ballet and continued in New York on a scholarship from the Koula Pratsika Foundation. He is currently the artistic director of the X-it dance ensemble and has created works that have been presented in Cyprus, Athens, the Lyon Dance Biennale and the Athens Festival. He was also a member of the creative team behind the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. From 1994 to 2005, he was a permanent member of the Omada Edafous dance company and has collaborated with Oktana, Sine qua non, Lathos Kinisi, Elatirio, Ad Lib, Zouzou Nikoloudi’s Horika and Haris Mandafounis, as well as with the Athens Concert Hall and the Karolos Koun Theatro Technis. His previous collaboration with the National Opera was in this season’s «Orpheus and Eurydice,» which he choreographed. «The show must go on» is a phrase that sums up the American Dream for choreographer Constantinos Rigos, whose piece, «A Little Piece/Peace of America» comprises the third part of the evening at the Acropol. The music is Cole Porter and the atmosphere from a particular era: musicals, Broadway, glitz and vanity. On the other bank of his mental river are Johnny Cash and the Wild West. «The choreography is based on the concept of entertainment,» says Rigos. All the songs are performed live by the Apodrasi quintet, like a concert accompanied by illustrations of the lyrics. In a single choreography that runs 35 minutes, Rigos has tried to use every way in which a dancer can work. On pointes, in character, barefoot. He presents faces one can encounter in any Western society, which represent the American Dream, which is also a global dream: to succeed in becoming someone. The piece also contains commentary, thought and a number of symbols that represent America. «It is quite political without being in-your-face,» says Rigos. «It doesn’t adopt any particular position, but anyway, it isn’t a black-and-white kind of subject. What is the American Dream? The need to believe in the moment. What is it that touches me personally about the American Dream? It’s duration. The belief that there is a place where anything can happen.» Rigos established the Oktana dance company in 1999, and later, from 2001 to 2005, also served as artistic director of the National Theater of Northern Greece’s Dance Theater. He has worked in theater, opera, television and cinema, and has also shown works of art at museums and galleries. Both his 1995 choreography «Daphnis and Chloe» and his 1996 «Five Seasons» received State Dance Awards, while in 1997 he received the Melina Mercouri Award for choreography. Last February he choreographed the National Opera’s production of «Les Sylphides.» For reservations, tel 210.361.2461.

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