Promoting young dance talent

Running for the fifth consecutive year, Athens’s International Dance Festival is back. From July 1 to 14, the festival will be held at its usual venue, the Technopolis arts complex, where Greek and foreign dance companies will present their latest work. Highlights include a tribute to German dance as well as the parallel events that always accompany the festival. «Our aim is to present Greek and foreign companies that have not performed here before,» said Sophie Mytilinaiou Daskalaki, head of the Cultural Organization of the City of Athens (PODA) which organizes the event, at Monday’s press conference. «The City of Athens wants to promote new talent, because things are hard for young artists.» The festival will kick off with a German week of dance and performances by two Berlin-based companies. Argentina-born Constanza Macras, who has done joint productions with the Schaubuehne and the Berliner Festspiele among others, will present «Sure, Shall we Talk about It?» on July 1, 2 and 3 with her company Dorky Park. In the choreography, 11 female dancers comment on the expectations from women’s bodies. Following last year’s performance at the festival, Toula Limnaios will present her latest choreography, «Life is Perfect,» an imaginary narration that casts an ironic look at modern society, on July 5 and 6. Greek-born Limnaios, who lives in Berlin, founded the «cie. toula limnaios» with Ralf Ollertz in 1996. Berlin is a city of major importance for the development of the arts in general and, as pointed out by Wolfger Poehlmann, director of the Goethe Institute’s Cultural Program, it has become a meeting point for artists from all over the world. «The Week of German Dance will also serve as an introduction for the Weeks of German Culture, which will take place in the autumn,» he added. Award-winning Welsh company Diversions, whose work strikes a balance between theater and dance, will present «Peeled» – a choreography with innovative lighting and intense music – as well as «Practice Paradise,» a performance where strange creatures meet in the forest, on July 9 and 10. The San Francisco-based Kunst-Stoff dance theater, with Yiannis Adoniou as artistic director, will present «Yia Yia,» an elderly person’s glimpse into the past as well as «In 4 Sections,» a work inspired by four contemporary composers, on July 12 and 13. On the same days the Smack contemporary dance company, founded by Stella Zanou in August 2006, will perform «Under Cinderella’s Skirt,» a choreography inspired by the short life of a video game character. The festival will end on July 14 with two duets, one by Stella Zanou and Francois Renault and the other by Ayman Harper and Alexander Ekman, followed by a hip-hop show by three French dancers. The ending will be marked by a fashion show, where well-known Greek actors and dancers will parade with costumes designed by Ioanna Tsami for theater and dance productions. Parallel events include seminars, exhibitions and the «Open Stage.» The seminars, conducted by choreographers Ayman Harper, Constanza Macras, Toula Limnaios and Wayne Parsons, are addressed to dance students and professionals – the deadline for applications is June 25. There will be two photography exhibitions: a group display by 15 German photographers who will present all tendencies of the German contemporary dance scene, held in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, as well an exhibition with highlights from the festival’s five-year run, by Haris Akriviadis. The Open Stage is an institution that promotes young local talent. After a process of selection, dance school graduates can present their choreographies at Technopolis before the official program – this year the Open Stage will run on July 3 and 10. «Our next step is to be able to have a second Open Stage and maybe host performances by young artists from all over the world,» said festival artistic director Margo Perdiki-Archondaki. One cannot help but wonder why the Athens Festival has to almost coincide with the summer dance highlight, the Kalamata International Dance Festival, which has always run mid- to end-July and will celebrate its 13th year from July 13 to 22 this summer. According to Perdiki-Archondaki, summer is the only appropriate time for a dance festival and by now it has become an institution for the Athens Festival to run on these dates. Yet summertime is not restricted to July and why should dance lovers be forced to choose between the two, especially when there are such few dance happenings taking place in Greece? Tickets cost 15 euros and are already available at the Municipal Cultural Center (50 Academias, tel 210.361.2920) and at Technopolis (100 Pireos, Gazi, tel 210.323.5353).

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