CULTURE

Modern dance troupes from Africa, USA and Europe meet up in the Peloponnese

The time of year that dance aficionados have been waiting for has rolled around once more. For the eighth year running, the Municipality of Kalamata in the southern Peloponnese is getting ready for the impressive annual Kalamata Dance Festival, scheduled for July 25 to August 5. Credited with bringing to Greece some of the world’s finest artists in contemporary dance (Jerome Bel, the Batsheva Dance Company, Murray Louis and Nikolais Dance, to name a few), the Kalamata Dance Festival, directed by Vicky Marangopoulou, builds on the reputation it has gained over the years and offers another 10 days of cutting-edge foreign and local performances. Highlights The main highlight of this year’s festival, as in the seven that preceded it, is the appearance of the eminent American choreographer Merce Cunningham. The 83-year-old legend has lost neither his creative spark nor his propensity for seeking new challenges in his exploration of modern dance. On August 3 and 4 at the Kalamata Castle Amphitheater, Cunningham presents «Event,» a show in evolution created by the choreographer himself and John Cage, which is devised specifically to be performed in large outdoor venues and is composed of fragments of Cunningham’s repertory works. The first such performance was given in 1964 at the Vienna Museum. Another highlight this year is the opening performances of Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence group. Following the lead of another great Afro-American artist, Alvin Ailey, Brown artfully blends traditional African dance steps and rhythms to the demands of modern dance, with an emphasis on the religious rituals of West Africa. Also infused in the complexity of the movements is an American-style minimalism combined with elements of Latin jazz and straight dance. South Africa’s Robyn Orlin puts a more political spin on her creations, which are influenced by her bitter experiences of segregation and violence perpetrated against her country’s black population. Her show, to be presented on July 27 and 28 at the Kalamata Municipal Theater, is poignantly titled «Daddy, I’ve seen this piece six times before and I still don’t know why they’re hurting each other…» Dramatic Inspired by the chaos theory, former Trisha Brown student Stephen Petronio will appear at the Castle Amphitheater on July 28 with his dance company in a performance of «Attractors.» Formerly dubbed the «bad boy» of modern dance, Petronio’s frenetic movements and delight in controversy have provided him with the skill to play with light and music – written by Michael Nyman – using them in combination with costumes to achieve a highly dramatic effect. Britain’s Russell Maliphant takes a postmodern approach to dance in his series titled «Two,» «Knot,» «Stream» and «Sheer,» which will be on stage at the Municipal Theater on August 2 and 3. Originally a student of the Royal Academy of Dance, Maliphant later became influenced by the wealth of movement found in other techniques such as yoga and capoeira, which he introduced in his dances to create a flowing and unique movement based on precision. From France, the Kalamata Dance Festival presents the Kafig dance group on August 4 and 5 at the Municipal Theater. Street-smart and influenced by the music of their Algerian heritage, the Kafig troupe – whose artistic director and choreographer is Mourad Merzouki – are a street dance-based group that draw their rhythm and movement technique from hip-hop music. Infused with challenging acrobatic moves and an intense beat, their work «Recital» is a cross-border confrontation with Arab-Andalusian music. Local acts The first local group to perform this year (July 30 and 31 at the Municipal Theater) is composed of choreographers Maria Anthymidou, Aliki Kazouri and Michalis Nalbandis. They will each present original independent pieces which, under the general title «Modus Vivendi,» examine the concept of communication in modern society. Following on July 29 at the Cultural Center is the Proschima dance company in American choreographer and Frankfurt Opera coryphee Richard Siegal’s «X(Albee),» which is inspired by the classic film of Edward Albee’s play «Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?» Seminars A second, and equally important, leg of the Kalamata Dance Festival is the annual dance workshop. This year classes will take place throughout the duration of the festival and will be led by Gwen Welliver, a former student of Trisha Brown and current company member of Doug Varone and Dancers and teacher at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York. Kalamata Dance Festival, July 25 – August 5. More information available on tel 07210.83086 or the website http:// dikeho.conxion.gr