It is time for dance lovers to start planning their summer holidays, as the Kalamata Festival program has just been announced. The 14th International Kalamata Dance Festival, featuring shows by nine international companies and one Greek troupe, will take place in the picturesque southern city from July 18 to 30. As always, the program will reflect different tendencies on the contemporary dance scene, hence its appeal to a wide audience. Some of the artists will be performing in Greece for the first time, while others have given shows here before. «When the festival first started, the dance scene was different. Now that things have changed, apart from seeing a company perform for the first time, it is equally important to have a follow-up of an artist’s work and get a better grasp of it. Art is not fleeting,» said Vicky Marangopoulou, who has been the festival’s artistic director since the very beginning, at yesterday’s press conference. She added that performances have been getting even more challenging, since most companies are multinational and collaborations between dancers and choreographers have been producing extremely interesting results. Shows will take place in the spectacular castle that looks over the city, as well as at other venues, including the Municipal Regional Theater and the Kalamata Cultural Center. Things may be different next year, when the Dance and Arts Hall, currently under construction, is expected to be ready. «We are almost certain that all will be ready on time. Dance will acquire its own house and it will be a great help to arts in general,» said Kalamata Mayor Panayiotis Nikas. This year’s novelty, as well as one of the highlights, will be a threefold Greek-Dutch dance project, carried out with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Greece and the Hellenic-Dutch Association of Commerce and Industry (He.D.A.). «I have always longed for productions that bring together Greek and foreign artists and look closely at the theoretical aspects of dance, which in Greece are still at the very early stages,» said Marangopoulou. As a result, young Catalan choreographer Pere Faura, who is based in the Netherlands, will present «StripteaSeS,» a work he is working on with two Greek dancers and a Turkish dancer. Talks and lectures will provide information about the Dutch dance scene, a major center for international choreographers. Faura is also scheduled to perform his award-winning solo «This is the Picture of a Person I Don’t Know.» London-based choreographer Hofesh Shechter and his company will perform «Uprising,» an all-male choreography, as well as «In Your Rooms,» a piece hailed by The Observer as «probably the most important new dance work to be created in Britain since the millennium.» South African dancer and choreographer Gregory Maqoma, an artist who emerged from the ghettos and went on to win international acclaim, will present his trilogy «Beautiful Me,» with the Vuyani Dance Theater. The show will take place with the support of CulturesFrance. Eccentric Portuguese choreographer Vera Mantero, whose work lies on the edge of dance and theater, will stage «Until the Moment when God is Destroyed by the Extreme Exercise of Beauty» with various guests. The opening weekend will close with the «Both Sitting Duet,» a sensitive collaboration and an almost silent duet between British choreographer Jonathan Burrows and composer Matteo Fargion. South African company Via Katlehong Dance, whose show «Nkululeko» met with enthusiastic response from the audience at the 2006 Kalamata festival, will join forces with choreographers Christian Rizzo and Robyn Orlin for a combination of powerful street dance and political protest. German hip-hop artist Niels «Storm» Robitzky (or just Storm), described by Marangopoulou as one of the few hip-hoppers who have managed to successfully take the explosive magic of hip-hop to the stage, will lead the Brazilian breakdancers Discipulos do Ritmo in «Geometronomics,» a show combining music with video art and stage performance. Well-known Japanese butoh dance company Sankai Juku will close the festival with «Utsushi,» a performance that reflects the work of its founder Ushio Amagatsu over the past 30 years. This summer’s Greek participant will be choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki and her Quasi Stellar company, who will stage «Electric Girl.» «It is a work for two performers, a mixed spectacle that combines live music, dance, video and text, which will be in English,» said Papadamaki, who was present at the press conference. She explained that for «Electric Girl,» which explores the relationship between the sexes, she was inspired by the Electric Girls Lighting Company, a company that proposed to rent girls holding electric lights in the 1890s. For Gregory Maqoma and the Vuyani Dance Theater, Vera Mantero, Jonathan Burrows and Matteo Fargion as well as Storm, the Discipulos do Ritmo and Pere Faura, this will be their first performance in Greece. As is the case every year, the festival will also feature dance seminars. They will be conducted from July 17 to 27 by Brussels-based acclaimed dance teacher Inaki Azpillaga, who has worked with the pioneer of Belgian contemporary dance Wim Vandekeybus. A variety of parallel events, such as silent movies and a live hip-hop performance, will spread the festive atmosphere to different corners of the city, from the beach to the railway park. Lectures of a more theoretical nature regarding dance will also be held.