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fromstagetopage publications fromstagetopage.wordpress.com Edited by Mariela Nestora

vol.2 interviews 2014-2017 The first part is a collection of 13 choreographers’ interviews & 1 article by dance theorists. The interviews were conducted in Athens, offering an insight on thoughts, questions and practices taking place in the Greek Dance Scene. The second part is an update of the artists interviewed in vol. 1, on what changed in their work in the past few years and thoughts on the recent developments of the Greek Dance scene. 'from stage to page' is an artist-initiated open platform created in order to share ideas and thoughts on choreography.

You are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work under the following conditions: you must attribute the work to from stage to page publications and the authors/interviewees!. You may not alter, transform or build upon this work


Part I Interviews


CONTENTS Stella Dimitrakopoulou


Athanasia Kanellopoulou


Persa Stamatopoulou


Artemis Lampiri


Stella Zannou


Antigone Gyra




Ioanna Portolou


Dimitris Tsiapkinis


Kiriakos Hadjiioannou


Vilelmini Andreoti


Christos Papadopoulos


Steriani Tzintziloni & Betina Panagiotara On writing #Act I



Stella Dimitrakopoulou Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Stella Dimitrakopoulou. I am a dancer, performance maker and researcher. I grew up in Athens and I live in London since 2008. What do you want to question with your current project? Currently my project is my PhD in ‘Creative Practice: Dance’ at ‘Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance’. I like to think of it as a project; it just makes me want to do it more… Although the word ‘project’ has to do with projection into the future, which makes it sound like ‘never ending’ or ‘without specific ending time’- something that can be really scary, especially regarding a PhD! In my research I am looking at those works that question the notion of authorship. Within this framework I am looking at choreographic works that use pre-existing material (eg. reconstructions/reenactments, copying and remixes), as well as, collaborative modes of production in dance that question the idea of signature and style in a choreographer’s body of work. I am looking at artists such as Jerome Bel, Xavier Le Roy, Tino Sehgal (the so-called conceptual dance scene). I am also interested in younger choreographers, collaborations and collectives- modes of production that are destabilising the notion of authorship. They may not be established in the contemporary dance scene, but often there is more potential there for destabilisation in relation to the established and institutionalised dance scene.


Is there a conceptual dance scene in Greece or in other countries but France? Unfortunately, I am not really aware of the Greek dance scene. I have been away for a while and I can’t attend performances since I am not here. Is questioning actually the process? Questioning can be part of the process and/or the product. But a process is not always and only ‘questioning’, it can also be repeating, exhausting, experimenting with materials, playing etc. Are you using the principle of improvisation? I use tasks or structures that allow the use of improvisation for their completion. Do you want your questions to become the audience’s question? Not necessarily. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes they are looking for something. Not necessarily a message, they might go to see something out of curiosity. I’m actually thinking of myself as audience: I don’t look for a message, but I am looking for something. Are you interested in the individual? Yes, not just in my work. But I also think of the individual in relation to a collective or a group. I am also interested in collectivity. I am a member of ‘Trio collective’ formed in 2009. The four members of the collective came together during the MA we did at ‘Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance’. We decided to work together for one of our MA modules, which led to our first piece ‘Trio’. The members of the collective are Elena Koukoli, Antje


Hildebrandt, Michelle Lynch and myself: all women, two Greek, one German, one American. We are all based in London apart from Michelle who lives in San Francisco. (http://triocollective.wordpress.com/) Do you have a specific method? We have always been using pre-existing works, but still, that’s not something that we have decided that it is part of a specific method that we follow. For instance, in our piece ‘re-re-twothousandth-re’ (2011) we used choreographies from 2003, of different genres: from Beyonce video clips, to Kathak, to Philippe Decoufle etc; totally different styles. We collected excerpts, edited them and made 3 films out of these materials. Editing was a way of choreographing. Then, in the performance, the three of us were onstage copying the movements from the edited-video that wasn’t visible to the audience. We didn’t learn/memorize/know the choreography we performed, we were copying it as we were watching it. The same method was used for the creation of my film ‘Frauen danst Frauen” (2011), a reconstruction of ‘Rosas danst Rosas’ by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. For the creation of this film myself and my mother are copying as accurately as possible the ‘Rosas danst Rosas’ video whilst we are watching it. [https://vimeo.com/21062522] Also, there is a method in the way that we deal with the distribution of the duties. This is very apparent particularly in our first piece called ‘Trio’. ‘Trio’ is a piece for 4 performers but on stage there is always three of us performing and the fourth person takes the place of the director. For the creation and the performance of this piece, all four of us were both directing and performing. Nevertheless, the person who takes the role of the director is not really the director of that section that we see being presented. The aim is to share all roles, rather than distribute the roles: you perform, you do the technical stuff, you do the marketing etc. We all try to do everything.


Do you all perform in all the works? Not always, especially since Michelle lives in San Francisco. She is usually absent physically but might be part of the work either though recordings or through Skype. Same goes for me, Elena and Antje, when it’s impossible to be all together. Also, when our piece ‘Another Chair Dance (2011)’ was performed in Athens I worked with two dancers from Athens, since I was the only one from our collective that could come here to perform the piece. Our dance works can be performed by others also, I don’t think there is any problem with that. How would you term/describe your work? for example is it dance theatre? Each work is different. I like to be open to the materials I use and the ways I work. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, there is no rule against the use of language. For my piece ‘without respect but with love’ (2012) I created a text that was a mixture of pre-existing texts from others (Laurie Anderson, Martin Creed etc.) and my own words. In ‘The first lecture (a performance) or Play-Back’ I worked with the manipulation of language the meaning and the sound of spoken words. Is text improvised? Both improvised and from references. We have also used text created out of other process. If you mean improvised on stage, during the performance, no, not up to now. Are you an artist? Yes. Are you a good artist? You are asking me now, so yes.


Do you like your work? Do you like what you make? As in ‘Do I like all the work that I have done’? This sounds like asking a ‘Do you like yourself’ kind of question (as was your previous question)… I have a strange relationship to my work, sometimes I like it, sometimes not. As in asking ‘Do you like yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror?’ well, I have good and bad days.. Bottom line, this is not a yes/no question, I like my work otherwise I would have stopped doing it. At the same time, if I considered my work to be perfect, I would also have possibly stopped making any. My work and my relationship to my work changes, it’s part of the process… Do others like your work? Some do. Are you happy with how you do things? This is a bit like a psychological test … as in ‘How do I perceive myself?’ or as in ‘Am I satisfied or dissatisfied?’ Let’s not go into it. Are you teaching workshops? I teach dance in primary schools and higher education and I teach workshops for actors and dancers. A few short questions about the elements of a choreographic work: How do you treat the body in your work? My work is not purely choreographic and it doesn’t need to address all of the choreographic elements. My work is not even always on a stage… ‘Which body? the performer’s body? my body? the audience’s body? The body is not expressing something other than what it is doing, in my work.


Time? There are many different times. When I work with pre-existing dance works, there is also their time, the time that those pieces were created. The audience’s perception of time: this is also another time. I don’t think of time as linear, times overlap… Space? Space can be the stage, the frame of the camera, the gallery space, the particular site of the performance -as in site-specific works… Lights? Most of the times lighting design is minimal. Set? A stage is already a set, other than the specificities of the space the set is what is needed to be there. Costume? Yes, in the sense that I think of what I am wearing. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Yes. How has that affected you? Sometimes I don’t go back to it cause I don’t believe in it anymore or I just need a change. Other times I insist in trying to do it. As in life… What do you wish for? Wish… A wish doesn’t entail an action. To wish is not to act. To wish for something to happen, is not very proactive. I wish many things, but this is not how I think most of the times. Wishing for


something can be nice, light and dreamy, but not very active… I ‘hope’ more than I ‘wish’. http://stella-dimitrakopoulou.blogspot.co.uk/ 2014


Athanasia Kanellopoulou Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Athanasia Kanellopoulou. I am a choreographer, a performer and researcher. My whole life revolves around movement- not only in the sense of movement as in dance but also in the sense of moving geographically: a movement of the body, of the spirit, a movement beyond borders, changing locations. I have lived abroad for 16 years. I left Athens when I was 17 years old in order to study in London at the Rambert School of Dance. Upon completion of my studies, I moved to New York to the Martha Graham School for one year and afterwards I moved to Europe. I danced as a guest dancer with the Tanztheater Wuppertal- Pina Bausch in Germany and then for two years with Les ballets C de la B in Belgium. I then returned to London to dance with Yasmin Vardimon company. After all these experiences with different artists, I realised I wanted to collect this knowledge accumulated through the years, and try to find ‘little’ answers on who I am, regarding where I stand in dance and in my life. I started to research my own choreographic work and at the same time I started teaching workshops, trying out different ways of sharing my knowledge with students and young dancers. What is your current project? What do you want to question with your current project? I have several projects coming up. One of them is a commission to create a piece for the National Dance Company of Malta, a contemporary ensemble of eight dancers. I will be there as a guest choreographer in two weeks from now. In this project my questions is how can we continue to live in a world of radical change, a world in which everything around us is collapsing, disappearing or loosing its substance/ essence. I wish to bring forward this question, make it more ‘real’ for the


performers and to try to find answers and ideas on how to continue living when everything is ruined and collapsed. Why did you choose this question? I am always trying to find answers for myself, as an individual not only as a dancer. I want to connect art to life and I draw my inspiration from what is happening around us. Would you say that questioning is actually your process? Yes. I start by posing my question to the dancers and the collaborative team, who answer in any way they like: by creating movement or writing a text, by bringing in props or bringing another question on my question. A puzzle of different materials arises. I take all of these fragments and I compose them together, attempting to resolve them, creating a thread from A to Z with a sense of completion as visual product. Do you want your question to become the audience’s question? For sure, I want to relate to the audience- it is not just my piece, it is theirs too. I mean that the question becomes theirs too. My works are not created just to satisfy my need, or to continue with my research, I want to share them with an audience. I wish that the spectator becomes part of the work, not by interacting in a corporeal way, but by joining me in a mental manner: being present, witnessing the states I m in, either entering or distancing themselves from me. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? It depends. I don’t like to generalize. Due to my mobility I have experienced different audiences in different countries. Sometimes audience members are very demanding, as they are in Greecewanting to find the ‘absolute’ answers and conclusions in somebody’s artwork. While in Slovenia, the audience did not seem to need a message, they just wanted to ‘enter’ and ‘travel’ within the ‘story’ of the work and the artist. I feel more familiar with this


kind of spectators. I believe that the performing arts in general are experiential. Are you interested in the individual? This is exactly my subject of investigation in my Masters degree at the University of Malta. During the past seven years, my interest is in the female figure through the past centuries. I am specifically interested in the difficulty of the female artist in delivering her work, her limitations in living in a consumerist, competitive world. My point of departure for my investigation was some female figures of history and mythology, and different ways of relating them to our contemporary world. These figures always represent something, they are symbols, but the symbol or its function has changed in our time, or it can be re-translated. For example Penelope is a symbol of persistence and longing (as she was waiting for Odysseus to come back home). In our time, Penelope can be a symbol of longing for something to change, or for hope to return in her life. Persephone on the other hand, is a symbol of movement between two worlds, between heaven and earth, between the living and the dead. She was able to shift between light and darkness, move freely through this division. I believe that human nature is very much about this division, especially females. This sense of split, of dichotomy is something I feel strongly in myself, it is the essence of who I am and it becomes visible in my work. Persephone’s symbol can be re-translated as a shift between the surviving of the abyss of the soul and the struggling towards the purity and clarity of light. Persephone is in a constant battle, trying to balance between these two extremes, these polarities. Is it a product of our society? Does society want us to be so divided? Is it that we have no other option? Is this dichotomy in our biology? Are we just made like that? Do you have a specific method? I start by doing research, drawing information from different books, art movements, philosophy, sociology and literature for


about three months. During this time I read, study, observe and make a list of the things I would like to work on, or mention. I then go into the studio, transforming these notes into movement. Intention is the most important thing for me in movement and this how the body becomes a vehicle for physical articulation. I am interested in the poetic transformation of the body. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Up until now, I have not used any text in my work. Nor I have found a necessity for the voice so far. The body is the most sincere instrument. One can’t hide. Are you an artist? If being an artist means to observe art through life, to be aware of all the social, political and art movements that concern this world, to be in constant motion and within a restless stillness, then I can say I am an artist, or that I try to be one. Are you a good artist? This I cannot answer, it is not me who judges that. Do you like your work? I feel very familiar with my work. I feel I am at home. Isn’t this what we all are looking for: a sense of familiarity, a sense of trust and a sense of fulfilling our purpose in life? Do others like your work? There are people who connect to my world and understand it, others who are not interested at all. One cannot satisfy everyone. Are you happy with how you do things? Happy because after travelling and working with different people and in different countries, I found a home. I had strong need for a home for three years, wondering where this base would be. My


base is Athens now and I m very happy about it. I feel very honoured to come back home to my roots and connect with the Greek contemporary scene. Would you say that your work is Greek? I don’t want to say that, because that would not be the whole picture. I could dare say my work is universal. My concerns for art and my need to express life through dance are not exhausted in my Greek roots. I want my work to deal with universal themes. I am not interested in a national identity. Is there is something that you can identify as Greek dance, Greek dance scene? Yes, there are some dance pieces, which ‘stay within the borders’, dealing only with Greek issues, with themes one needs to be Greek to relate to. I suppose certain cultural characteristics exist, considering the fact that we are born here. The trend I have noticed in Greece over the past years is works in which the body is neutral, somehow distanced from the stage space and the stage presence. It comes as a surprise thinking that Greek people are known for their intense physical temperament and overt expressivity, especially in the way they speak and gesticulate. As a spectator I am surprised to see this lukewarm approach to physicality, of distanced bodies that become neutral vehicles dealing with abstraction. In my view, intense physicality and the act of transformation are missing. I miss the primordial element dance can have, I see more and more dance which is intellectual, conceptual and neutral. Of course there are some other dance companies that work with intense physicality… I need to mention here that I don’t watch much dance in Greece. I am abroad most of the time and I get a chance to see a lot of dance there.


Would you say your work is dance- theater? Yes, my work is closer to dance theater… We are who we are, because of our past and certainly working with Pina Bausch has played a very important role in defining my work. I don’t want to shake off this part of my personal journey, it is evolving and transforming with me anyway. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes, of course, at first. Improvisation is a source of material that becomes structured improvisation or composition. Then I have all these elements to play with. When onstage, shifting from set material to improvised material, happens when I find a moment which dramaturgically in line with the thread of the work. The shift needs to be performed well so the two kinds of movement materials merge together, so that one is part of the other, so that one cannot identify which is set and which is improvised. I work this way in order to keep the work alive all the time: the set material evolving in every performance and the improvised material informing it. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Don’t we all need to have expectations and demands each moment we breathe? Not in an ambitious manner but as a way of living and a way of working. Expectations and goals make one go further, research further, and develop as a person. Do you have a daily practice? Yes, I swim, when I live in Athens and as I often work in Malta. When I’ m not by the sea, I go to swimming pools and after my classes I work out a bit for myself.


Why did you start dancing? I guess because I was a hyperactive child and I could never stand still…. There was a strong need for me to move. I started when I was seven, doing ballet of course. Do you favor / use a specific dance technique? I use the dance theater influences from working in Brussels and Germany, I use floor based material, release technique and physical theatre techniques which are based on Grotowski and Stanislavsky. Are you always the performer in your solos? Yes, I am the performer of the solo works so far. Although I have been commissioned to make group works within which I have created solos for other dancers. Working with other people I get fascinated with what they have, it attracts me so much and I like to work on their physical and individual perspectives. I haven’t dared to choreograph a solo on someone else yet. How would you describe yourself within choreography? I am an independent choreographer, I can’t really define it with words in each language there are different terms I use for what I do. Dance artist, is a safe choice, since it includes most of what I do. When you are a choreographer, you create choreographies, but I am also a pedagogue. I also work with other people and so I am not just a solo artist. I can say I am an independent dance artist. I don’t have a company, but I do have certain people I tend to collaborate with and always return to and work with. What are your next plans? One of my upcoming projects is at the Iceland Academy of Arts. I will work on creative process for three weeks with them. Then I will be in Athens for three months December to February in order to start a collaboration with two artists, one visual artist and one musician, working on the theme of dichotomy. Dichotomy as


within a person and also in divided countries, an interest in separation and division. This research will be presented it in the coming year, possibly in a museum or another space rather that onstage. Do you create scores? What do you mean? I write, I draw layouts, plots, but only in the beginning of the process. The end product might be very different from the plan I drew initially, but the drawings help me keep a sense of clarity in my mind. How do you archive your work? Only with videos. How do you use the following elements of a stage performance? Music/sound? I don’t have a specific method I use, each time it is different. I like to leave space for experimenting and using different methods. So far, I have created works: with no music, with music present from the beginning of the process i.e. working on the music and I have also commissioned music works. In ‘Ballast’ there was live music, composed and developed in parallel to the choreography. In ‘The return of Persephone’, ‘The return of Penelope’, and ‘In lo(e)verland’ the music was composed for the respective works. Time? How does history see time? Time is seen as cyclical, as a spiral moving from inside to outside, history repeating itself, a kind of centrifugal force being created. In another point of view, time is seen as linear, flowing from one place to the next. I prefer to see time as cyclical, I like the image of something moving from the inside to the outside, coming from within us, something that doesn’t stop and it has the capacity of changing direction and moving the other way. One loses track of time when onstage, you can lose yourself in a performance. Or you can have a bad show, when time doesn’t move on, nor for you nor for the audience.


Especially in the 50 minutes works there is this danger of a thought not developing enough in time and this is when all the problems of non-clarity or incoherence arise. I feel that a time limit is needed, both for the performer and the spectators. You need to know how long this journey is going to last. Space? I don’t always work in the same manner. For one show I might not need a specific place, in another one the space might disappear or in another the space need to be extremely specific. I sometimes work with the Nine Point System: with the idea that I am inside this cube and I have to touch all the points inside this cube with my body. And then what happens when this cube breaks, or when it disappears? How does that change the intention, the quality of the movement? When the space changes a lots of things are released. Lights? Lights play an important part in dance works. I like to use lighting design supporting what is happening onstage rather than competing with it. I don’t want that the lights become more overstated than the choreography, they have to become one with the dance. Set? I have only used set design once, collaborating with Thimios Atzakas. The concept of the work was this box, being inside this small box, testing the limits of mind and soul and what happens when this box breaks or disappears but the body is still trapped inside it. Costume? I now prefer the costumes to be light, neutral, simple, and weightless. I used to think that a costume could be the starting point of a dance piece.


As in ‘The return of Persephone’, the whole dance was based on the gas mask. Now I have departed from this view and entered into this period in which I want the body to be the main element, the primary focus, I don’t want the costume to prevail over the body. Maybe I will change my mind on this later on again. What external influences matter to you? I love cinema, it is a great source of inspiration. I admire the power of the image and the realism that coexists with surrealism. For example, Bela Tarr can capture a moment of stillness and yet inside this stillness during the seemingly endless five minutes of this frame, there is a lot of emotion and a big range of motion. My question is how do you create that onstage, only with a body, without the support of light, or the cinematic perspective? I also love books, mainly literature, Greek classics because they touch on complex subjects. And draw inspiration from visual arts, philosophy, installations, and new performativity. There are some visual artists dealing with performance, in installation works or performances in museums, like Tino Sehgal or Shirin Neshat whose work I find interesting. I admit I don’t see much dance. I need time to observe other art forms otherwise I fear my perspective might become too one-dimensional. Do you believe in less is more? I am struggling to adopt this motto in my life. I try to use it, but it is only recently that I feel I understood the meaning of this important phrase. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? I think we fail all the time. I celebrate that. I am a fan of Samuel Beckett! I enjoy his nihilistic approach on things and life. I find great fun in failing and I believe that success is in the fall and the failing.


How has that affected you? It’s a pattern of life, a part of our human nature. After all we luckily have the option of falling all the time. A fly can only fall once-when it is dead. We have the chance to fall all the time and if we can find a sense of acceptance and joy in that, our lives would be much easier. Regarding failure not as disaster but as an indispensable part of our process. We should not judge it, we should just live with it! I guess that this perspective is my own self-defense. If I would not accept my failures I would suffer and it would make my life much more difficult. I prefer to accept them and embrace them as part of the process of living. What do you wish for? I wish to have children, a good partner, to continue researching, and to always find interesting fellow- minded travellers on my journey. http://athanasiakanellopoulou.blogspot.gr/ 2015


Persa Stamatopoulou Could you briefly introduce yourself? I am Persa Stamatopoulou. I have been professionally active in the field of dance for 28 years and I studied dance in France. During different periods within all these years, I have introduced myself as a choreographer, a dance teacher and a dancer. What do you want to question with your current project? At the moment, I am working on a new project, thinking about it. I am still waiting for funding in order to go ahead with the production. I would like to create it and present it this year. The subject I am interested in at the moment is migration/ immigration. People have been migrating, shifting from one part of the world to another. This is a fact, choosing migration as my subject is not really questioning it. I am interested in investigating the reasons or the thoughts behind making such a decision, and to look at these migration patterns of people, their routes, their itineraries, the geographical obstacles they are faced with. It seems that in these transitions the world appears to change size according to the different conditions. How does one cover great distances by foot? Which events encourage someone to make the decision to change country? It can be a brutal experience of fleeing (exodus), a peaceful and carefully planned move, or an impulsive response to unwanted circumstances. What makes humans leave and wander? Why do you choose this question? In a sense, my work is autobiographical, but I only realize this once the work is completed. While I am absorbed in the creation I do not see any autobiographical connections. I become aware of them whilst watching it as a spectator. The theme I have been working on, reveals itself in connection to my own personal concerns. I have never started a creation with the intention of directly connecting my life and what I choreograph. It seems that subconsciously there is autobiographical link with all my works.


For the past 2,3 years, I have been considering moving to a different country. I am questioning it, I have a strong impulse to pursue this for specific reasons: I can’t stand living in this country any longer. I do feel that I am entitled to a more civilised part of land, as a citizen of the world, and since I am not finding it here I should look for it elsewhere. At the age of 50, I am wondering how I would like the rest of my active years to be like. What do I chose for these next years for my future? for the future of my daughter? Is questioning actually the process? I usually start with one word. I start from something tiny and then this builds and expands in my mind. It becomes a shaped idea that I can then transmit to the dancers so that it will finally develop into something complete. My goal is to return to the concise and brief. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Not necessarily. I don’t feel confined to the idea that the audience identifies with the work- the idea or question behind it. I am more interested in what the spectator is observing, feeling, for them to create their own associations with the work, who can also think something I never thought of. I don’t want to impose my ideas on the spectator. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? I don’t think they are looking for a meaning, a message. I believe that audiences want to feel something, even if it is anger, even if they criticize negatively what they see it is a reaction, the whole point is that they don’t stay indifferent. I don’t want the spectator to leave the show thinking – Ok, so what? Nice…/ and so…. Are you interested in the individual? I am interested in the individual and my work is anthropocentric. I select specific people for specific works-I am interested in the


identity of the dancers and their personality. How does this person move and how do they think? I work with who they are. Do you have a specific method? It is only during the past few years that it has become more specific. I work with improvisation primarily, I never teach movement material. The dance develops through conversations and improvisations. I then select parts of material that I find interesting, which belong to my aesthetics and the way in which I wish to express the specific work. Do you consider yourself funny? Not really. It is something I would like to get closer to. At the same time I do not consider my works melodramatic. It is not that I am interested in the dark side of things but it seems that my dances focus more on fragile inner themes, for instance human weakness and failure. I would say that I am more attracted by the hidden and unspoken facets of man. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Not really, only if I find it necessary in a work. My work apart from anthropocentric is also ‘body-centric’. i.e. the main focus is the body which I believe is the most sincere medium of expressionthe body does not lie, cannot hide. There is a primordial sense of truth especially when the body expresses itself through improvisation rather than given movement structures, the ‘real’ emerges. What does it mean to produce work? Every now and again, I try to think of myself without choreography. I say to myself, I will stop choreographing, stop creating, but up to now making is a natural way of being for me. Despite the fact that I get tired or upset and face so many problems, my need to create work outweighs the problems.


I ask myself – Ok…So what? What am I doing? (same thoughts I never want the audience to have…). What am I really doing? What am I offering to the dance scene both of Greece or Europe? I have no answer to these questions. Is there a Greek dance scene? There are people who make interesting work, who continue to experiment and create. Can you identify a specific Greek identity? The identity I detect -at least for some of the choreographers- is one revolving around the self. It feels like many works lack an openness, a broad sense of relating, it sometimes feels like each maker is limited into ones little story. Are you an artist? Yes, I am. It is the only certain thing I can say about myself. I feel alive through art, through most of its forms. Are you a good artist? I don’t know what that means. I can’t judge that for myself. In my self-criticism, I can definitely say I am an active artist. Do you like your work? Yes, especially during the last few years. I watch past works and I feel overall satisfied, I might not like all of it but I do find parts that I like. I have even thought of re-staging some pieces, but there is rarely the occasion of repertory works. I continuously have new ideas, which overtake older ones. Do others like your work? Not always, I have positive, negative and indifferent responses, the whole range. Overall I get good feedback on my work.


Are you dissatisfied with what choreography has to offer at the moment? What is missing? The way I deal with choreography seeks communication, I feel that this is what is missing: a true and substantial way of communicating. People communicate, there are words and talking, but no substance. A lot of talking, little action in the way we approach dance. We all have ideas, I see this more clearly now. We are bursting with ideas, opinions and viewpoints but we lack in action. It is wearing me out on a social, political, artistic and emotional level. As if there is no real purpose, no aim for things. As if all the energy is lost before reaching the goal. What is missing is a simple, accessible attitude to things. I don’t know what is keeping us from making simple decisions, of materializing ideas, of fulfilling desires. What is holding us back, the fear of loosing our certainties, our security, and our comfort? I get very angry with that. I used to be indifferent, I now get cross and anger has taken the place of apathy. Would you say you have a dance company? Why do companies such as yours matter? I would not say a dance company, but there are a few people, a core group with whom I feel certain that if I approach them they will be with me on the project. This team consists not only of dancers but also of other co creators. Are you happy with how you do things? No, I am never satisfied. I feel the dramaturgy is sometimes a problem in my pieces. I have not collaborated with a dramaturge yet, I am thinking about it. Up to now, I had not thought of it as necessary but the way I see my work has recently changed. How would you be happy? Ideally I would be happy to have more time to create. To have space, a studio (not necessarily my own) so that I can spend more time on research, on working with the same people, developing


less transient collaborations. After all these years I can say there is a core group of about 8 people with whom I can communicate well and we can understand each other. I would like to be able to keep these people near me, working together more often. At the moment we meet again when a new production comes up. I wish we would not have these big gaps between creations, spending less time away from each other. I strongly believe that artists with a concrete body of works, spend the time, really focusing on it. They don’t waste so much time juggling several jobs to make ends meet. I am certain that this financial marathon of survival in Greece ultimately affects the works presented. Works don’t really go deep enough, seem unfinished when presented, a lot of creative discounts are taking place. The duration of research and production, can affect the quality of a dance piece. You mentioned a core group of 8 people. Do you mainly create group works? I tend to make works with a few people, anything between solos and quartets and I was also performing in my work. I would reconsider performing again, my dancing career isn’t over yet, but I do enjoy materializing my ideas on other bodies. Is your work set or improvised? Somewhere between the two: the performers are not doing something completely different on every show, neither are they bound only to set material. A pathway of movement develops over the rehearsals, which becomes more and more specific, but I do like to leave some space to the performer, provided the meaning is not changed. I like to offer these windows of freedom to my dancers. As a person I prefer to keep things open. I prefer ellipsis rather than using or putting fullstops. I am like that in my own life, I like to leave things open, in a sense to be continued (unfinished). Improvisation is a method of working in my case it is not the product.


Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? I enter the rehearsals tabula rasa (in a blank state): I have five ideas, five questions, I have a sense of aesthetics that comes with me and is part of my work but I don’t expect anything. The most interesting part is the rehearsal it is a magic journey, which can take you to unexpected places, depending on what comes from the dancers as well. I even allow myself to move away from an initial idea, in order to follow through the process. At the same time- even if only unconsciously- I seem to preserve my own identity while working with improvisation. I would describe my identity as simple and serene. A sense of tranquility incorporating things unsaid, anthropocentric, looking into the imperfect nature of human beings. Do you have a daily practice? Yes, I practice yoga and I keep in shape while teaching dance. I also keep in touch with performing. At times I write, I find an odd piece of paper and put my thoughts down. I might loose this odd piece of paper along the way, but sometimes there is a great need to record my thoughts. I am not too much of a practical person, there is no particular pattern in my act of writing. Do you believe in less is more? Yes, absolutely, it is my motto in life, I can identify with it. As I grow older, I adopt this motto more and more in the way I speak, in my dancing, in my moving, in everything. Would you say your work is dance theatre? In past works there used to be a dance theatre approach. Recently I have made the choice to have more movement and less theatre in my works. When I say more movement I do not necessarily mean intense physicality, but corporality in creating images.


Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? I am influenced by painting. I admire the work of Edward Munch, Vincent Van Gogh, also by literature and poetry. Poetry mainly, I get excited by the infinitude of images hiding behind the verses of Kiki Dimoula. How do you treat the body in your work? Like a sculpture, made of soft clay that can change form continuously. ‘Imagine you are a moving landscape, alive with energy’ this is what I say to my dancers. I don’t want to strain the body nor mistreat it in any sense. Do you favor / create a technique? Release technique is what I teach and expresses me. When I choreograph I never enter the mode of thinking of any particular technique. Release technique is more familiar to me, as a movement language. How do you use the following elements of a stage performance? Time? I am interested in the pauses in time. A pause can be a very dynamic feature, with lots of movement and energy lying inside of it. I am more attracted by slowness, rather than speed. I have an instinctive relationship to time, both in my life and my work. Space? I don’t use the space much. My preference is place rather than space. The dancers don’t move a lot on stage in my work. I assume I like stationary things that change abruptly in space and in time.


Lights? I find lighting design very important, it is the set for my work. I am interested in different atmospheres, it is as if the choreography and the lighting are two planes, which sometimes meet and sometimes intersect. Lighting design doesn’t need to be complicated, subtle atmospheres can be very effective. Set? No, I don’t find set necessary. I rarely used it. Costume? I don’t find costumes necessary either, I am interested in finding a costume that connects somehow to the work, but it will always be something simple, and as abstract as possible. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Of course, I consider it necessary. Alas if I succeeded. How has that affected you? I have been influenced but not in a negative way. I hold on to the experience in the back of my head, a self-reflection of what went wrong and why, so it functions as knowledge helping me progress more. What do you wish for? My wish is to have good health both physically and mentally, to be able to observe and perceive things, to be able to take risks. Growing older, we tend to move less, to be more afraid, to shrink metaphorically. I don’t want to loose this feeling of being able: to move, to start all over again. I wish that I can always keep the felling of beginnings rather than that of final destinations and I certainly wish that my daughter is well, always. https://persastamatopoulou.wordpress.com 2015


Artemis Lampiri Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Artemis Lampiri, I am 31 years old and I am professionally involved in the field of dance through different roles like most of the dance workers: I a dancer, a choreographer and a teacher. It has been three and a half years that I live in Greece again. I was studying and working in Holland before (two years in Arnhem and three years in Amsterdam). What do you want to question with your current project? I am currently working as a dancer in a show for children codirected by choreographer Antigone Gyra and physical theatre director Yiannis Ikonomidis: “ A fish of my own” in Theatre Roes in Athens. As a choreographer, I am pausing at the moment. I am in a suspended mode, still recovering from the last production “Me on top” which was part of the Young Choreographers Festival in Stegi- Onassis Cultural Foundation. It was a dance piece dealing with power, authority, dominance in interpersonal relationships and its social implications. There were 5 performers, going through different roles and entering relationships: mother/child, man/woman, friend/ friend, employee/boss. Why? I was inspired by an experience 1,5 years ago in Germany while working on a school workshop. I was part of a project which was held in Germany by the organization perform[d]ance, in which together with 7 more choreographers, we worked with teenagers. This project was mandatory for the students of the school. Within this project there was a very specific chain of command, how things were done. I began to observe how this specific process created power structures and also how these can also work the other way round: How the ones ‘below’ shaped the roles of the ‘above’. Teenagers can be manipulative at times.


That is how this idea came to me. You can never be a boss unless you have employees. During the process of creating ‘me on top’ we played several behavior games (role play). There were times I was really surprised/shocked by the reactions, amongst us. Despite being within a safe environment, we did get scared of each other at times. The question is how far one is willing to go when they are in power. Or when confronted with a situation you cannot escape from (for example when someone is ill in the family), the weakest is the one defining what happens. The seemingly least powerful is ‘on top’ dictating/controlling/affecting time and emotions of others. We created a spatial system based on a rhombus. No one could exit this space and depending on who is on which cusp of the rhombus, different power structures were activated, which defined the movements of the whole system. Each performer ruled the system in a different way. Our research dealt with use of space: different pathways, and different rules. For example, if one was in the center and stopped, everyone had to stop, and then they became the authority. Is questioning actually the process? It was the first time I chose to do something which was narrative and based on role analysis. There were specific characters represented. I am not sure I would do something similar again. At the time, I felt like trying out something based on reality that can be more accessible. As a spectator myself, I prefer to watch dance shows which are very specific within an abstract domain. I always wanted to start from something specific, so I decided to try and create something like that. This was in contrast to other works like ‘In between’, which was the first dance piece I created upon returning to Greece and had a really open theme, exploring the notion of in between. I learned a lot during the last production ‘me on top’ but I don’t think that this is the area I am really good at (at least for the moment). I think that when there is a clear narrative and (as I always do) clear images and movements, it can become too obvious/clear overall, or too predictable as a whole.


Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Yes, as humans we all share some questions, but for dance in the 21st century, this is less relevant. I am not interested in creating questions to offer to the audience. My concern is that people can feel they relate to what they are watching. Primarily and most importantly I am interested in a kinesthetic response, watching the audience move ‘with’ the dancers as they move in space. Any physical reaction, even getting dizzy or closing your eyes is welcome. The emotional, intellectual reactions come next, ideally they surface the next day. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? This really depends on the audience, for the general public it can be different. The dance audience consists mainly of other dancers and artists and I don’t think they have a particular need for a message. Most people need to see something graspable, it is part of human nature to make sense and make connections, while one line in space can be sufficient for others. Are you interested in the individual? Yes, very much so, I am interested in working with other people, collaborating. The final product is ultimately connected to the particular group of people that created it. The performers influence and shape the work in many ways: technical level, physicality, movement language and personality. Most contemporary choreographers work with the dancers, rarely one uses the ‘copy/paste’ mode of creating movement themselves and teaching it. Working with a group is bound to be more ‘clever’. More minds at work produce a better result than only one. Do you have a specific method? Not really, the method depends on the subject I am working on. At the same time, I use certain tasks in in all of my works, like physical exhaustion. The only common thread between my works is myself and parts of the process. It is not that same performers


assist a common element between pieces with their own movement language. First, I locate in my own body a physical translation of the subject I am investigating. For example: loss or emotional pain translates into my sensation of my ribs on the left side pushing further in than on my right. Then I find a movement task that produces the same physical response to the dancers bodies. Finally when the physical reaction has been produced on the dancers’ bodies. I see how it relates to the emotional starting point. In brief, I am interested in the physical impact of an emotion (of an emotional state) that I create without necessarily mentioning the emotion during the process. How do you start this research? I admit to the fact that I never go to the studio on my own, I lack the discipline of actually being there alone. My research can be taking place in an elevator or in the studio working together with the dancers. I am quite active when I am rehearsing. I use my own body to research and filter through what we are working on. I am interested in exhaustion, some of the tasks I practice together with the dancers. What is your strategy? After completing my dance studies, I did a Masters in dramaturgy which gave me useful tools with regards to the communication of my ideas to the audience: how to make something clear, how to evoke the reactions you wish, how to link what you do to the time and place you live. The point is to open up to your surroundings instead of isolating the work microcosm of your own, absorbing different stimuli and translating them into a dance product. Do you consider yourself funny? In the last three works there are some moments that I find funny. I don’t give too much weight or develop these moments. It is quite funny how younger people laugh out loud and express themselves freely during the show while others recognize the


humor but keep quiet not allowing themselves to laugh during a dance show. At the same time I don’t consider my work ‘heavy’ or dark. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, I am interested in working with texts but not exclusively on the content. I could use a poem but work on the rhythm of the text, on an image, one word, or the punctuation pattern. This work can deliver movement phrases similar to speech. I am inclined to dances that can be ‘read’ whilst avoiding verbosity. The texts are only used during the creation process, there is no speaking in any of my works. Maybe there will be in the future. The very special fact in our art is that dance can exist beyond logic, unmediated by language as we think and speak it. I believe that each one of us ‘articulates’ what they see with their own ‘words’, so I prefer to leave this space open. What does it mean to produce work? I don’t completely understand either…. I have not managed to enter into research, for the sake of research only so far. I guess I am a genuine occidental representative in that respect. In order to enter into research, I need to have a goal and that goal is the finished product. Part of producing is proposing work and fees to potential partners, something that has become increasingly difficult. It is rare to be able to afford the cost for the rehearsal period and if one expects all of the budget to come from the box-office, one needs to make sure that what one creates conforms with the interests of the general public, not only relevant to ones artistic needs. Would you say your work is Greek? Yes it is. Not because I use Greek music or directly recognizable elements from my culture. My work has been influenced by my studies abroad, for sure. I get the feeling that my work is more pertinent to a Greek audience than one of another country.


Can you identify/recognize a Greek dance scene? I am happy to say no, not yet. I say this with joy because I feel it is very recent development, from 2000 on. The choreographers are trying to develop their own language, with Greek elements, not hiding the ‘Greek-ness’, not being ashamed of the specific nationality with regards to non-existent dance history, like Patricia Apergi and Iris Karayan. In Greece, we missed quite a few of the stages of contemporary dance development. We were directly exposed to a wide range of dance when it came from abroad. In the past, there were strong influences from what one saw, for example a choreographer would create a ‘copy’ of Belgian type work. Eventually more choreographers chose to study abroad doing M.As engaging more in dance theory and research and reflecting upon their medium. This recent development of the Greek dance scene is linked to choreographers studying and working abroad, dance studies curriculum changes but most importantly it is linked to opening up your mind, seeing more dance and also processing all of this information and incorporating it in one’s work. Ultimately it is all about how a dance work relates to the world we live in. In the previous generations, a lot of choreographers would deal with dance in a pure dance-related microcosm, while Dimitris Papaioannou would observe and transform contemporary life into dance (through his fine arts viewpoint), creating works accessible and relevant to the world, as well as of high artistic value. Are you an artist? No, I am a worker. Are you a good artist? I work hard and I like to work hard.


Do you like your work? Yes, lots. It sounds a bit silly but I get great pleasure out of my work in all its manifestations: performing, choreographing, and teaching. Do others like your work? I hope so… Yes… I guess since I continue to work… some definitely like my work. Are you happy with how you do things? Yes, on one level. I cannot overlook the harsh reality of working in dance in the present moment. I would definitely prefer to have the luxury of time needed to live, rather than spending every minute for surviving. We need some time of this time, of low or no productivity, it is about living. How would you be happy? I would like to have a child, a partner, a venue that wishes to present my work and offer me work- each year. All are ongoing desires and all about duration…. These would cover all of my needs, for now…. Are you working on a particular topic? If all of your work were ultimately about one subject/ one question, which would it be? The beginning and the end of movement, and a strange fusion of reason and instinct. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes. Is your work set or improvised? Mostly set.


Do you have a daily practice? I need about one to two hours in the morning. Seemingly the least productive hours of my day with coffee, cigarettes and laptop, it actually is one of the most productive hours for me. What do you think about solos? I once created a solo during my studies, none ever since. There is a thought about creating one next year. Are you also the performer? This future solo I am thinking of performing it myself, but I might drop this idea and work with a dancer. I find that there are really good dancers who can maybe perform this better. So far in my work, I was performer also only in META, which was an overwhelming experience for me. There are so many things one needs to take care of for the show. I am a control freak and it is really difficult to overlook the details of what is going on during the show. It was really hard for me to stop the brain of the choreographer going while performing on stage. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why does your work matter? I have founded a dance company named MAN, in 2013. Most people know my work under my name rather than the company name. The name of the company refers to MAN, as in human – it was a decision I made really quickly. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think I am changing the world. Our profession is somewhat narcissistic, both as performer and as choreographer. Choreographers’ vanity is thinking that everyone cares about that what you make, performers have the vanity of exposition. Both the mind and the body are exhibited. As a teacher the sense of offering is foreground, it more immediate. The last three dance works I have created with musician Alexandros Karadimos (guitarsit), then Dimitris Tasenas (singer)


joined in. These two musicians work with a mix of live sound and with electronic music, sometimes the music is created live, but the musicians are not onstage. In all of the works I have created so far, Candy Karra has performed, Konstadinos Rizos has been in two of the shows (now he has gone to Montpellier to study choreography) and Ioanna Heitzanoglou in a few. There is a core group of people with whom we feel as a dance company and that matters. Do you create scores? No, not really. In each piece I make there are at least two notebooks for my thoughts and notes. They prove useful, when I need to restage a work, they help me remember. I primarily use my memory. I don’t use video in rehearsals. I just keep the materials and ideas that stay with me, in my memory. How do you archive your work? I only have videos. I don’t have a portfolio of any sort. Do you believe in less is more? Yes. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? There is not one art form that exclusively influences me. I like to have a broad area of influences. I have never been influenced by a painting either…. I ‘d say it is more about logic the way influences work on my concepts and ideas. Sometimes before going to the first rehearsal, I watch videos from choreographers I like. For example Mor Shani from Israel- with whom we studied together in Holland and he is now very successful there or I watch ‘Ya Panda’ by Dimitris Papaioannou. I don’t use similar ideas or anything of the sort, it is about revisiting choreography as an art form at work.


I sometimes take one concept, one word I Google it, and use three phrases I find in the search or by chance the first 25 things on the Google page. I also work with images-not necessarily with people or bodies in them, it can be a picture of an object- I take these in the studio and I try to ‘move’ them. The next creation will be on the idea of the END, endings, but not in the sense of death. A show ends. This interview will come to an end…. How do you treat the body in your work? I treat the body (also) as space and as the familiar connection with the spectator. We all have a body. The body is my work, this is what I deal with and it is also my primary tool. I am interested in its form, shape, rhythm, everything, but in each dance piece the bodies are used in a particular way, according to subject matter. I could never add some movements or a section from one piece into another one, there is a specific way of moving according to the subject. Embodying the notion we deal with. How do you use the following elements of a stage performance? Time? I am interested in creating an extension in time. Most of the works I have created have no ending. I am interested in the ongoing, perpetual and continual as if something could last forever. Since we found this movement language and managed to create this world, I wish to let it carry on being after… Conversely when it comes to the process of making, duration is restricted and specific, I am very precise whether I want a task to last for five minutes or an hour and a half. Space? My favorite creative relationship is the one with space! I profoundly appreciate its potential, it is how I ‘read’ things, I see spatial lines, directions of movements and I believe that narrative


can be captivated solely in the use of space. The spatial choices I make, are the only un-negotiable choices within the creation. Lights? With the lights or the lighting designers? I think of the dances without any lights. In fact some parts of the piece work better for me in simple /uniform studio lighting. I sometimes prefer things ‘naked; rather than dressed, I am referring both to the idea of costume and set. I have collaborated with a lighting designer for only one work; mostly I create a simple lighting plan myself. Set? I have never used set design. I sometimes have set ideas that appear before starting the creation, but then they fade away. I am so captivated, fascinated with the body itself, I never arrive at creating a set for the dance. I have sometimes used objects though, props in past works. Costume? I don’t feel I have really succeeded in finding the absolutely appropriate costume for the work. You find yourself at a point just taking the decision, making a choice between the 2-3 options of costumes proposed. The one time I collaborated with a costume designer from the beginning, we made a choice directly linked to the concept of the work. Music? During rehearsals I use different bits of music I find. I like music it helps the rehearsal process. In the last creation the musicians (Alexandros & Dimitris) sent me some sounds with which we worked with from the beginning, while we developed things in parallel. I find it really helpful and inspiring for both parties that the musician comes to rehearsals and we develop things together.


Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Goes without saying. I don’t think the last work I created was the best one of all the ones I have made. Some pieces work better than others as some things in life work better than others. I have also failed in my exam for the proficiency diploma of English as a foreign language… How has that affected you? It hurts: Process/failure/shock/hurting/my eyes and all. After all that you can see what you can learn from it all. You never cease – under any circumstance- to accept your human nature and you carry on. What do you wish for? I wish to be able to carry on with my work. To only work on my work (rather than any job) and to have other people dealing with the production, finance, website, accountants etc. – that would be very nice. Thank you. https://artemislampiri.wordpress.com/ 2015


Stella Zannou Could you briefly introduce yourself? I am Stella Zannou. I am a choreographer, a performer and a dance teacher. I live in Berlin it has been 6 years now, but I have lived and worked in Greece over many years in the past. What do you want to question with your current project? The last piece I made “Strange”, was presented in Berlin in June, and I plan to re-stage it this winter. Ten people got gradually involved in this production, which originally started off as a trio. As the rehearsal process continued, more performers joined the piece. “Strange” is a bit like a farce and deals with the creation process. It is the most sincere piece I have done so far. Everything that what was going through my mind while making this piece became the piece itself. There is text and talking. It is honest and I make fun of myself, of the people involved in the project, of contemporary dance and of contemporary art. I find this show quite funny, I laugh a lot, possibly because what its about, is actually true. It deals with the anxiety one goes through in order to create a ‘serious’ dance piece and how futile this really is. All artists have these thoughts, even if they don’t admit to it. I am never bored of this piece, I can watch it every day- it puts me in a good mood. Do you consider yourself funny? Yes, I think I am, but I think that most people don’t know I am funny. This last production with its sense of humour was a surprise for most of the spectators. Some would ask me whether I have really choreographed this work! Some said they had no idea that this is how I think. There is a funny side in me, for sure. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? I cannot say that text is something I have mastered. At the same time, I understood that both as a performer and a choreographer I


feel strong with using text. I know what I want and I feel I can lead things where I want them to be. Is text improvised? In “Strange”, I wrote the text within a day, the main points were written by myself and then each performer that used this text was free to add and change things if he wanted. He had this freedom from me, because I felt safe that what I wanted to say/state was very clear, to me and to him. Is questioning actually the process? I usually begin with a general idea and then develop the work during rehearsals in the studio. I rely primarily, if not exclusively on movement. The novel characteristic of this last production was that the piece evolved out of the problems I had. I started playing around with the notion of the discrepancies or the actual gap between what you had in mind (how you imagined this idea to be) and how things turn out (or how things don’t work as you expected). I decided to contain this ‘failure and accommodate it by making something out of it. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? I never think of that. I guess it is something that happens anyway. I am always looking for ways to communicate my thoughts to the audience. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? If one describes and ‘sells’ the piece as one with a message, spectators will look out and search for this message while watching it. If a choreographer is interested primarily in movement and presents a pure dance piece, the audience will look no further. I believe that if as a choreographer you want to ask questions with your work, you have to be clear and consistent with what you are talking about.


How do you start your research? I have also created works without any prior research- it is not really my way of doing things. What works best for me, is to enter the studio and start rehearsing. I usually begin with a general subject or theme and then I am open to allowing things to change completely and for the process to take me to different places. When I was still in Greece, I had read books as part of my research: about time when creating ‘Ủểờớ₫ửư̆ỉỜểợớ’ and about power relationships for ‘Statesera”. Are you interested in the individual? Yes, very much so. The people I chose to work with, I select them as persons. Their individuality always has so much to offer. What does it mean to produce work? Production is a process that stresses me out, even before it starts. It worries me on all levels, especially now that I have a child, organising things, scheduling, time…. I wonder how I will manage all of it, because I don’t have the luxury of working with someone else assisting, organising or producing. Once the rehearsals begin, I enter the studio and I have a great time, it is a very pleasant process. I guess I’m mostly stressed by the organisation and preproduction. Are you an artist? I recently had an argument with some friends on what artist means, who is an artist, how to define it. It is a bit of a strange statement to make and as for the definition I can think of two possible interpretations: 1. Classification ‘artist’-for example as for tax purposes-a large number of people are considered artists 2. I cannot think of the second definition without adding the word good next to it and it applies to a much smaller group of people. In my understanding, to consider someone an artist at all, one presupposes high quality work. For me artist means good artist.


Are you a good artist? I cannot answer this question. I am very consistent and reliable. I work a lot, I love a lot what I do, I invest a lot of myself in what I do. But I cannot answer this question. All of these characteristics are in me and in my work. I give a lot of myself in what I do, also as a performer. Whether there is artistic value in what I do, it is not for me to say, and honestly I don’t know who can. Do you like your work? Yes, I like my work and if for some reason I would need to stop, I would go crazy. Certain works I like a lot, some not as much. How much I like something is also influenced by my role in it. For instance I have created solos, in which I am also the performer. They are so difficult and demanding to perform- so although I like presenting the work, I am not pleased/content because of what I need to go through, its so hard. Do others like your work? There are some who like my work. Are you happy with how you do things? Yes I am. Although I know I am not really good at promoting my work, but that’s another story, I have accepted it now as a fact. I can create, I can perform, if /whether the piece tours a lot, I leave it to chance. In the past this used to bother me a lot. How would you be happy? If I could find someone to help me promote my work… Are you teaching workshops? Yes, I teach a lot, I teach contemporary dance-technique and depending on the workshop I also mix technique with improvisation. I try to be creative with teaching technique and I additionally focus on group awareness, on how to move as a group,


on how to keep alert with the space and everything that happens around you, on how to become an intelligent body, a ‘clever’ dancer. I like to help students open up to their full potential. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Sometimes yes, but only in the very first stages of rehearsals. If I don’t know the dancers I am working with well, I use improvisation tasks in order to get to know them. Is your work set or improvised? Set. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? I do, but the goal appears when I have clearly made the decision on what I will work on. In the very beginning of the process I might start leading the piece towards a place but still allow it to end up elsewhere. For example in “Strange” the first three rehearsals were something completely different than what the piece eventually became. Do you have a daily practice? I think that changing nappies is my daily practice at the moment. No I don’t practice daily at the moment. I used to be very conscientious as a dancer, I used to go to dance classes, running, stretching, cycling, I was always doing something physical. What do you think about solos? I have only choreographed solos, which I perform myself and it was an important step for me. I didn’t get much pleasure out of it. It was really difficult and awkward going into the studio on your own, striving to keep yourself inspired constantly, to stay coherent and concise and watch videos of yourself. In addition, this particular solo was very demanding physically. Overall this experience advanced my work, yet I find working with other people, much more fascinating.


Do you create scores? I have my own way of making notes but I am the only one that understands what they mean (even I don’t always manage). How do you archive your work? Only videos. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why does your work matter? I do not have a company, I used to have one in Greece and I terminated it. I now work as an independent choreographer. When I create works, it is under my name Stella Zannou, although I do mention ‘Smack Dance Company’, next to it. I think I keep it for emotional reasons. So, this work, it matters to me, it matters to exist and to create and I can’t live without it. Whether I believe I am offering something to art overall? If someone feels so much love and faith in what they do, it must relate to someone, something must refer to others, no way it is not only about the arts. If what you do, you do with all of yourself, your whole existence, other people definitely have something to gain from that, it can affect them in some way. It can move them. Would you say your work is dance theatre? I dislike labels, confining my work to specific types, so I would say no. Then again maybe some works are more ‘dance theatre’ and some are more clearly pure dance… Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Influences… anything can be an influence- something you read, something you see while walking down the street, which seems interesting or funny or it affects you. Essentially I’ d say my inspiration emanates from problems. If there were no problems I


wonder whether I would know what to do. Problems lead the way, in what to do. How do you treat the body in your work? Gently. I really like dance and movement: looking for unfamiliar ways in which the body can move, searching for image generating movements, exploring range and limits of movement. This is a recognisable characteristic of my work, there is something unfamiliar and strange physically. Do you favour / create a technique? I have some ideas with which I create movements and then I get other ideas because the old ones keep on creating movements like the ones before. Do you believe in less is more? Yes and no. I apprehend this motto both as choreographer and as performer, I sense it and I understand its value physically and choreographically. I have experienced it but I don’t believe it applies simply to everything- I don’t embrace it as an absolute truth. How do you use the following elements in a stage performance? Time? Managing to get the spectator to loose track of time, is something I find fascinating. There have been times I have experienced this as an audience member, some rare magic moments that seem to last an eternity. Space? I have grown tired of the conventional stage. It no longer appeals to me presenting my work in theatres. I am now inclined to use alternative spaces and to look for the place, which is the one you want for the show you created.


Lights? Hmm, Lights. I have a thing with lights, I admit to not really liking them. In fact they often disturb me as a spectator. If the costumes of the show are not simple and discrete, I don’t mind that much, but if the lighting design is overwhelming it sometimes bothers me. Both form the position of a spectator and a choreographer, I believe that lighting design is potent, in that it can render a scene magical or totally destroy it. I guess it really depends on the kind of aesthetics one chooses for their work. Set? I have used set design in some past works. When you don’t have a sufficient budget you prefer to pay the dancers better than construct a set. At the moment, I do not regard set design a priority in my work. Costume? The same goes for costumes. Clearly, they are an essential part of the creation, but you can find simple solutions, like using what you have. The works I created in Greece used to have both set and costumes. Recently, while in Berlin, my works are much simpler regarding the aesthetic choices. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? No. There are certain works I like more than others, but according to the conditions of the creation, I do the best that I can each time, so I am satisfied with the outcome. What do you wish for? Apart from finding someone that will assist me in working on applications for funding and all the other production things that need to be done‌.


My wish is- if I may be allowed- to continue choreographing, continue doing what I am doing both physically/professionally and with regards to my child. My wish is to carry on. smack dance 2015


Antigone Gyra Could you briefly introduce yourself? Lately I introduce myself as a dance, theatre and videoart maker, gradually abandoning the choreographer title. My vision is expanded and I want to liberate my creativity to different mediums. I am also the mother of Kinitiras since its conception and the mother of 3 children. What do you want to question with your current project? At this moment I am working on two projects. One is a children’s show “My own fish” and is part of the surprise action Ekplixi. In this project I am interested in finding how to approach children through quietness and serenity. We worked on a fairy tale ‘The fisherman and his wife’, collected by the Grimm brothers which deals with greed. In our version, the fish dies in the end, thus we discuss the connection between greed and loss. We came across an article that stated that greed is inherent in humans; it is deep seated in our DNA, because humans are aware of the imminence of their death. In that view, greed is not a trait of character, it is in our genetic constitution and the only other animals like this are monkeys. So we have to learn how to live and deal with greed. Our materials for “My own fish” are silence, movement, orchestral music and very little colour, in direct contrast to how most children’s shows are made. During a workshop in Skinner releasing technique, in a sudden moment of epiphany, I realized the amount of ‘noise’ in our lives and in our relationships with children. Just then the idea to approach the next children’s show through silence, appeared. The second project is titled ‘unexpected time’, an odd project which I keep on announcing but has not been presented yet. I guess it will, in unexpected time! With the occasion of 20 years of Kinitiras, a mixed group of professionals and amateurs was created and started research on this piece last year. The deriving point, was Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ and our subject was the unsuspected moment in which ones life can change completely. Moments in which everything changes in one go, a


bomb, falling madly in love etc. This group of performers (14 to 22 people), all move continuously together, creating a circle. This is the basic movement concept with which one can enter into trance when engaging for a long duration. Within this circle lots of different events appear. I imagine this piece presented in a really big space with 50-60 chairs scattered around, so things happen amongst the spectators. Random events occur, in unknown time: someone will fall; someone will have his birthday etc. This project is part of a bigger project called ‘urban surprises’, in which we rehearse and perform in open spaces, at unknown times, just appearing somewhere. With everything that happens around us, I am no longer fulfilled by the notion of the artist experimenting in his studio, confined by four walls. It is no longer enough. Art as a political act has come foreground with all that we have to live though now. It is time to go out there, activate people, to make someone smile, someone think or rethink about something. During these past months most people are helping, collecting food or clothes for refugees but still some Greeks are hostile and insensitive to all this, forgetting that Greeks were once refugees themselves. As a person, I feel the need to stimulate awareness, to make people conscious and help them realise that this person lost their home or their child on their way, that we need to take care of each other, create our own ‘coat’ for what is happening to us and around us. It is tormenting to witness all these horrible things happening, feeling you can’t change them. Is questioning actually the process? ởo, questioning in the intellectual perspective, it is not our process. We have a question as a starting point, a pretext. Our process is the people and our everyday life. Kinitiras works evolve and form by the people in it- their everyday life and anything that affects their everyday life. For example I started ‘unexpected time’ project with Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, but now the piece has evolved into something else. I am sure that Beckett has influenced this work and is somewhere, somehow in there, but the piece is no longer about that text.


Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? When I first started choreographing, I really wanted my questions to become the audience’s questions. I continued wanting that passionately for at least the first 10 years of making work. Recently, all I am interested in is that spectators find their own way of connecting to the work. I prefer works to retain some openness, raising different questions. It is beautiful when a spectator has seen something completely different to what you intended. I used to get stressed out by that. At present, conversely, I welcome all these comments and different viewpoints, as they advance my work. To go back to your question, I could almost say that I don’t want my questions to become the audience’s questions anymore. And if I do, I am running the risk of being didactic. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes: the parent, the spectator-parent, the average spectatorparent, the average teacher, they are looking for a message. A more experienced audience, who has seen more shows, doesn’t. It really depends who you address the work to. This is why it is really important to think of ways to educate the audience. This why, in ‘unexpected time’, we are out there rehearsing, for people to experience our art-form more often, to help them realize that meaning is there, whether they are looking for it, or not. Are you interested in the individual? I am interested in people since always and forever. My emphasis is individuality and the differences between people and their abilities. I focus on the different capabilities, not on the weak points but on how these different strengths can constitute a group. Different entities, giving the best of themselves within the process, become a team and hence an ensemble. The creative work in Kinitiras is a group process. I might arrive with a specific idea in one rehearsal but end up working something completely different because that specific day, the people pointed to another direction.


Do you consider yourself funny? I would like to be funnier. My works contain my sense of humour, while my humor is less visible in my everyday life. I would want more of it in my everyday life. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, but not necessarily till the end of the process. Texts can be anything from newspaper clippings, philosophy, literature and poetry to a play or devised texts created in the process. I work with theatre methods too. Is text improvised? Yes, devised texts are created within the process. These texts are then collected and organised by one person only, or by the whole group. How did you start this research? An idea comes in unsuspected time! Then I start informing the idea: through discussions, reading, Google searching, finding people that know much more for the subject and discuss with them. Then, I put together the team of performers who will work for this project. We are quite a few and I select the most appropriate ones for each show. I sometimes invite new people to join, in order to keep Kinitiras extroverted. I also set short term goals: within 10 rehearsals, we need to have achieved this or that. In ‘My own fish’ we spent the first two weeks in improvisations and research all together. We all participate in the research and bring things in. There is this long piece of paper (which I buy by the meter) in the studio and people add things to this board, you can find anything there: newspaper articles, paper boats, sketches for costumes, collages, devised texts, writings, notes and ideas. Then, for the next 2 weeks, I create a rough draft of the show (from beginning to end) and we keep making these drafts, usually around 6 versions. We improvise on these different versions of


drafts. During the second month of rehearsals things gradually become set. Are you an artist? Yes. Are you a good artist? How do you define that? I don’t know, just an artist. Do you like your work? Yes, very much so. I fell in love with my work again this summer. I was invited to teach at an education camp for adults, I was teaching under the trees and I realised once again the power of our work. I was reminded of how lucky we are to be doing this kind of work. Do others like your work? Some like it and some don’t. Do you have specific expectations? When I watch the piece, the most basic thing is that it moves me, makes me laugh or cry in an artistic way. If I can’t connect to the creation emotionally, I realize that something is missing. Are you happy with how you do things? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. How would you be happy? I cannot be happy all the time, that’s a fact. At the same time I am very happy with what I have done so far. I am a worker of art and I have worked really hard. I give myself this recognition and appreciation. I know what I can do well and what I could do better


still. And I keep on going, in order to improve and further develop myself and also the work I do. Are you teaching workshops? I teach an awful lot in order to survive. I would like to teach less, but it is also true that teaching is an elemental part of me. I’ d say that my teacher part is possibly above my artist part. Is your work set or improvised? Depends on the work, ‘My own fish ‘ is all set, ‘unexpected time’ is improvisation within specific parameters. I am open to different interpretations, for example a movement can be performed in this way or that way too, but there is always a clear framework. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? When I watch the final piece, the most basic thing is that it moves me: that it makes me laugh or cry artistically speaking. If I can’t connect to the creation emotionally, I realize that something is missing. What does it mean to produce work? I see two definitions of this word: one is producing as creating, as in making something beautiful and that’s the good part, the second is ‘I need to do the production-oh my god-find a producer and manage to communicate my ideas with them- oh my god- too many things to do by myself’. So to produce is binary and contrastingone part beautiful and one part heavy. Ultimately, the financial and practical jobs necessary suck a lot of energy out of me. Do you have a daily practice? I do quite a bit for myself, since I realized that this is the only way to be good with others: I walk by the sea, I swim, I take Feldenkrais lessons (which has saved my life, without a doubt) and I take part in a psychology seminar on basic principles of groups. This seminar is addressed to team leaders, and helps you


develop better skills at supporting the group. I support a lot of groups as a leader: my family, Kinitiras, the students. I also participate in a ‘reconsideration support’ group for parents, meeting twice a month, which is a method of speaking with a time limit. It’s about learning how to listen better to yourself and the other. If I stop any of these practices, I loose my balance and really these are the only times I have for myself. Considering that I work 12-14 hours a day, it’s not much. Do you believe in less is more? 1000% yes, goes without saying. Would you say your work is dance-theater? I don’t know. Even at the very beginning, the name of the company was Kinitiras dance spectacle, rather than dance theatre. There are some dance theatre influences, but I would now describe my work as spectacle only. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? Yes, cinema. I really like cinema and I watch anything from classic old films Fellini, Kurosawa, Tarkovsky to new cinema. How do you treat the body in your work? With love and care, I don’t want bodies to hurt, be mistreated, or in any discomfort. I also like all kinds of bodies, all ages, shapes and sizes, I always have and I want this to manifest in the work. How do you use the following elements of a stage performance? Time? In love with time! Also in the title of the project I‘m working on now- unexpected time. The most important elements for me are body and time. Time plays a crucial role in the methods used and during the process. How can you make something work for 5 hours and then make the same thing work in one minute? How


can time be soothing for rapport in the group? How much time to allow for awkward moments? For the final product, tight timing and rhythm are main concerns of mine. Even the long pauses and silences of “My own fish� are carefully designed. Space? I am intrigued by space, not just Laban space. I am interested in the notion of personal space and its extension to outer space, from inside to outside. I am attentive to this both philosophically and in my teaching. How does one of these scenes or images we create in the studio looks like in open air? Can we imagine how this image seems from outer space? The other day we were rehearsing outside, by the sea, on a windy day at sunset and it was an amazing experience. What we were doing became a part of this beautiful bigger picture, and it was magical. Going back to the studio this had informed our work and that day is now somehow part of our piece. Lights? I always work on the lighting design myself, I even have a pseudonym for myself as a lighting designer: Anti Steve. Set? Oh well, with the financial crisis, no set. In the past, for about a decade of creations, I would first make the set and then start rehearsals. Costume? Depends on the concept. Costumes can be one of the first elements in the process or pop up last minute. Occasionally the actual concept of the piece is based on the costume idea.


Do you feel you have sometimes failed? And how has that affected you? Of course, if failure came at a point in which my personal life was fine, the failure assisted me in thinking a next better step to take with the work. Failure hurts momentarily. When I was not well in my personal life, failure really affected me, one time I was ill in bed for a month. Now I can handle failure- it is a matter of prioritiesand at the moment my personal life is my priority not my professional life. Do you consider your work Greek, or belonging to a Greek dance scene, if there is one? My work is fringe forever! I don’t feel that my work is valued enough within the Greek dance scene. What I make is not only Greek, I consider it to be universal and it is true that my work receives more recognition abroad than locally. There is a Greek dance scene for sure and it is flourishing at the moment with very competent people creating beautiful work, enriching and developing dance and other art forms. They are artists that work against all odds, because it is all based on personal effort and I really appreciate and respect that. As for an identifiable Greek characteristic, I don’t really know. All I can think of, is Papaioannou’s work which looks into our ancient heritage and has become mainstream and so it is recognizable by many. I can’t say much about this, because I only see fragments of what is created. I don’t see enough dance performances to be able to say if I identify a Greek characteristic. I don’t see as much I would want to, because I don’t have the time unfortunately. I don’t have a clear picture of what’s happening. Last year I managed to see 3 shows by new choreographers at Stegi and I was very happy to be there and with what I had seen. But I didn’t see anything in common between them nor in any of the others I have seen. Greek choreographers are all so different. They all have really strong egos. Maybe this is the actual characteristic of the Greek dance scene, that each maker is very different, creating works with a really personal style.


So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why does your work matter? Kinitiras is no longer a dance company, it is a network of people, it is a family and every family matters. What do you wish for? I wish that none of all that I am afraid of unfold in the world. I hope that my fears are not exaggerated. kinitiras dance spectacle 2015


November Could you briefly introduce yourselves? We are November, Marion and Christos, we work on interventions in public spaces/ public places. We are interested in rendering space, into place (topos). We look for situations that occur in a space and create interventions. A public space can be a street or a common place, somewhere where things happen. Our rule is to never announce or advertise our actions, so that reactions of people/spectators and people/performers is as authentic as possible. The performers are not in a state of expectation for an audience or for a specific outcome of the action. In interventions, the state of affairs is the risk of the inevitable success and failure. We are self-taught and so far our not knowing has helped us gradually construct our own vocabulary. We don’t really fit in any framework. Within one year we went to 3 different kinds of residencies: one for dance, one for circus and street arts and one for fine arts. The same year we were invited to a contemporary art festival. It’s all in. What do you want to question with your current project? Why? We constantly have some project. We go out there and do things. The more we do the more we learn. Lately we are creating certain situations looking for reactions from people. We use two techniques: object and apparent invisibility. What we propose is ordinary but also slightly distorted or displaced. In this kind of work we discourage the notions of awe and admiration towards an artwork, the presentation of art. The object and its apparent invisibility invites for a decision to be made on behalf of the audience- they either to do something with it or ignore it. It is about how a spectator ‘reads’ and registers these objects available. We never use art objects. We work with familiar objects, diminishing the distance of the object and the spectator. In fact we do not think of the people responding to the work as audience or spectators or passers-by but as inhabitants. These objects come from our everyday life, objects you feel familiar and free to touch.


In STONES- recreating secret landscapes, we collected black stones from railway tracks and created little mountains of these in landmark points next to the sea. These were at the disposal of anyone to stand there and throw a stone in the sea. Throwing a stone is the first creative moment of man, when as a child you throw a stone, it is one of the first actions with an external effect you do. People that were at the landmark, looked at this mountain of stones, were wondering whether this was there for them or for something else. This mountain seems deserted and at the same time it belongs to the person who is there. In a way it is his. Is questioning actually the process? Things come out from our everyday life, which feeds us with ideas. There is no intellectual or psychological research. I do work with concepts but for me process is more important than product. The motivating force is how you live and perceive everyday life. In defining myself as an artist, I don’t feel special in any way. Ultimately we deal with interactions with everyday people, looking at everyday moments. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? I am not sure it is in my interests to know if, what or how much the spectator/inhabitant got out of this. In any case, as an audience member you are already faced with many questions. Why should I go somewhere in order to see something? Why should I be sitting in order to see it? Why do we do what we do? The other day we were working in the public space, Marion said there are certain things she cannot do since she is pregnant at the moment. Our decision was to do an action for only 1 minute and ask someone to take a picture of you while you do this action. So, some citizen complies and takes a photo, makes the choice of when to press the button, which then raises the question: Who does this photograph belong to? Who is the author? For stage shows the situation is the following: the spectator arrives at about 9p.m., they have come to see what the artist made, both performer and spectator are there, waiting, expecting


something. For the public space or the street, both the performer and the spectator are in a precarious situation, they both have to make decisions on the spot. In another project ‘ITHAKA 24- the destination is only an excuse’, I was hitch hiking, holding a sign with Ithaka written on it. Some cars give me a ride outside the village and then I would hitch hike my way back to the village returning, and then again and again. We spoke with some of the drivers on the way, (they say that artists speak only through their work, not the case with me), anyhow the drivers didn’t know what I was doing: Inhabiting a common space with the ‘spectator’, in their car, sharing a new locality with them. The inhabitants of the village didn’t know what I was doing either, witnessing me continuously departing and returning. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Depends on the audience, their background, how they watch things, whether they have expectations. In the past I was the ‘easiest to please’ spectator, I liked everything I saw. I am now more critical, I pay, I sit down and I have certain demands. I prefer shows in which I go to with a certain amount of fear, because I don’t know what I will see- rather than going to ones that I can predict what I’ll be seeing. In the interventions we create, no one expects any of it to happen. I am unconcerned with whether the audience sees, ‘reads’ a message or just senses something, moreover I have no idea how they will interpret it. What is the action you want to propose with this project? In MONOBLOCK we use the ordinary white plastic chair: the familiar object, the one for fiestas, sold by gypsies, for gardens, plain, plastic, easy to break- a symbol of outdoor congregations while the action of sitting in public spaces connects with the notion of occupation. We place this chair in public spaces and look for ways to provoke its use. We devise provocations for the chairs will be used somehow, anyhow.


In TRANSISTORS-polyphony is hard, democracy is harder, we used 120 transistors of which 20 were stolen. You learn to accept ‘uses’ of that sort too. We don’t describe ourselves as performers, fine-artists or choreographers we are conductors of situations, albeit with the sensitivity and performativity of Marion who has studied music, circus and dance. What does it mean to produce work? When you engage in production as in making, you get carried away, time passes, you get absorbed in what you do, it changes your everyday life- I find this very healthy. When you get funding in order to produce something, there are some promises you need to keep and this can give me a blank sometimes. At this moment, we produce something every week. We go out there and make something, within the frame of our subject. We discuss and do: it is very simple and healthy for me. Working on impulse is simple, but hard for making a living. How did you start this research? What we do is exclusively research. We are in a process of observation, inviting people to position themselves to what we propose. In MONOBLOCK, the performers in a state of challenging the spectator-citizen are 2 dancers, 1 acrobat, 1 actor and 2 fine artists and out of this group 2 are also musicians. Our research doesn’t finish in the studio, you allow your findings to exist as a real action relating to real people: you observe, evaluate and act continuously. Are you interested in the individual? Each individual performer is important. We give some guidance (practical and theoretical) and it is up to the specific performer and their own poetic language, how they create this live interaction. Our tasks are not about interpretation. They are instant compositions- what happens is made by the people for the people. The performer is specific to the action, for instance in HEADPHONES-what does a muted image sound like? George was in a public space, playing the bass, which was connected to a


speaker that was connected to a set of headphones. The only way to hear the music was to use the headphones and sit with him he was playing for only one spectator at a time. Only George could do this, in this way. The notion of the author is rather vague in our work, who signs this? Who is the author the maker, the performer or the spectator? It is really difficult to say with our work. It is difficult not to sign the work and it is difficult to claim it. In STONESrecreating secret landscapes, I returned to the place one day and saw the mountain of stones totally destroyed, in TRANSISTORSpolyphony is hard, democracy is harder, 20 transistors were stolen, it is problematic. I cannot sign these works, they belong to everybody but this is challenging for me, because I have worked hard for it. I am holding on to the power of the process, this is my reward. When revisiting the destroyed mountain of stones, I thought the only way to claim this work is to multiply it, so I created another 7 mountains and it very laborious. So now we play with the idea of authorship, at the moment were are looking for the photographers of MONOBLOCK- the action of asking people to take of picture of us doing an action. These photographs don’t belong to us, the one that took the picture is it’s author, we have now created a Facebook page in which we are asking them to sign their photo. With this process you ask people to respond to what you do and then sign it, you enter into a dialogue with the spectator, who becomes the co-author of the work. As I said before, the specific performers of each intervention inform it. When we worked with Vitoria Kotsalou, an experienced dancer in improvisation, we asked her to try to convince12 people to sit down on the 12 chairs laid out in the public space. Once she managed to get all 12 of them, it would be her decision whether to dance or not. We had no idea what she would decide to do, but it was really interesting to hear what she had to say about her experience. We record everything in this project and it is interesting to see how the same task unfolded with an actor.


Do you consider yourself funny? We laugh a lot. We are both experienced clowns. In the past we secluded this part of us in our work. Now humour and irony are part of our work. In TRANSISTORS-polyphony is hard, democracy is harder we were invited to perform in a contemporary music festival. We occupied the DJ table: we placed 120 transistors, batteries and a note saying: ‘I was supposed to be the DJ but unfortunately I had another gig. Please help yourselves and help me out’ People started putting the batteries in the transistors and tuned it to a station they liked. Once 10 of these were activated the sound was already unbearable. The organizer came up to us and proposed to turn the volume down but I responded that I cannot do it, since the ethics of this work don’t allow me to: I asked for people to do something and they did it. Each one tuned in to something they like according to who they are, after all the title is polyphony is hard, democracy is harder. There is a lot of humor and irony and truth in this. Try to imagine all 120 of them playing together. Humor is sometimes necessary in order to handle the workespecially if the subject is heavy and dark- we try to find ways to lighten it. In MONOBLOCK we record everything with sound only, there are no videos, we are playful with the interviews, the questions become gradually more and more distorted and you can no longer be sure this is an interview or a joke. Are you interested in text in your work? We once worked on ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce, as music score or melody, not in relation to its content. In ITHAKA 365, we made a silent contract with our audience: dealing with the amount of (stage) time required for the action of filling the stage with bottles of water. It was with this piece that ‘Ithaca platform’ commenced: a series of actions dealing with displacement, occupation and public time. The concept of public time is central to us. We still add new actions to it. We are now questioning this platform’s titlemaybe it is a bit more poetic than we would wish at the moment.


Are you an artist? Yes, of course, what else could I say about me. Are you a good artist? Better than Picasso! Just a joke we have with a friend who is a painter. Every time he says he is a painter people talk to him about Picasso and so he responds, better than Picasso. This is not a question. I don’t question that. I exist as an artist. Do you like your work? Yes. Do others like your work? Yes, some people do, some people don’t. Our specialty is changing audiences! We have build and lost audience three times so far. We used to do circus and then when we went into dance, then circus audience never came back and so on. We have changed 3 times circus, dance, and multidisciplinary interventions. The only action we were not involved as performers was TRANSISTORS. It was the only time we were observers only. Overall, in our work, clarity, distinction and presence of the body is always there. Are you happy with how you do things? Yes. Generally speaking yes. How would you be happy? We would be happy if we were better at communicating our work. The problem is that we have to do everything ourselves which is impossible, so give up some stuff. One year you apply for support and you find yourself only doing that for 6 months, it’s another job. You either have more freedom or more support, it is a fine balance to keep.


Do you have a daily practice? We treat our bodies because we need them, yoga, Alexander, jogging. Sometimes a lot of music or something else, depending on the different projects we do. We are not dancers, we have studied different techniques and we have each assembled our own mix of what our bodies need and this changes over time. How do you treat the body in your work? Presence: The everyday present body. Time? Real time. Space? Real space. Lights? You also treat lights as real, in a cinematographic way. Creating a place rather than space. When in a theatre you can’t ignore certain facts: that there are people sitting opposite you, they are sitting next to people they don’t know, there are lights hanging above us. I cannot disregard the fact that these people came all the way to this place to see what we do. Our next work will be for the stage and we want to take everything into consideration. Set? Dynamic set. An object is a dynamic set. Costume? We define and discuss what the performers wear, we use our aesthetics to make a choice, we like beauty: Ordinary beauty or something that can stand out just a little. We often wear jeans and


a white top or shirt, so we can mix with the crowd. These are clothes not costumes. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Every time you succeed and you fail. We are lucky we can fail in circumstances we create. Sometimes failure can take you to a new direction. Maybe you made a wrong choice or took a wrong decision. It is difficult to fail but it is not always bad. How has that affected you? In circus avoiding failure is the first priority concern. Discussing within the semiotic frame, the moment you are ready to accept failure, you are open to everything. You are standing there, you are about to do your most difficult trick, there is a promise you make and it might fail: something drops or something breaks. You don’t stay there questioning how what are about to do will work out. You do it. You fail everyday. Is your work Greek? I don’t think so. Is there a Greek dance scene you can identify? The past 2-3 years, I feel that Greek dance is going through change. I cannot recognize something as Greek. In circus I can recognize French or Russian, in dance I can recognize French, Belgian, Scandinavian. At this moment I cannot define Greek dance. Five years ago I could see some common elements: minimalism, a desire to expose technique and lack of risk. Currently things are changing for the better; there is more information and artists travelling to and from here. So why does company matter? Why does your work matter? We work together as a couple and we work together because we are different. I have my own way of seeing things and it is important that there is the other side. When you rehearse, you can


see things differently if you are inside or outside the action. In fact, we work together because we don’t work the same. If we worked the same we would bypass things. The vocabulary we use can be read from different perspectives, theatre, music, fine arts, music and dance. You define a proposition and create. Ultimately it is poetics. Poetics is our way: a syntax, a technical method of composition, a methodology in order to create situations to bring the people closer. A theory under construction: our methods evolve continuously, but they come from a solid theoretical background. We are expanding in different directions, theatre, dance and others, ultimately translating a public space into public place. What do you wish for? I wish that we could do what we do forever. Do it sincerely and maintain this honesty and integrity. It is unpleasant to add water to your wine as they say. november 2015


Ioanna Portolou Could you briefly introduce yourselves? I am Ioanna Portolou, I was born in London and I grew up in Athens, Greece. I studied in London (1987-1997) and I have been working in Athens ever since. I studied fine arts BA and MA, and then for two years contemporary dance and choreography at Laban Centre. Griffon dance company was founded in 2000 and in 2012 I became interested in education, teaching children improvisation as a technique. I have been choreographing since 2000 up to now. What do you want to question with your current project? Why? The current project started last year. It is a trilogy: ‘Forest’, ‘Taboo’ (which have already been accomplished) and ‘Porn’. The 3rd piece will be a quartet while the first two were duets. All three pieces have to do with the basic and deep relationship between a man and woman, the relationship of the self and the other and archetypes. In the past I had been making one piece a year. Then I stopped working for 2 years and I thought I would never choreograph again. We started this project because this was the need for all of us. Due to the circumstances we started with something basic, affordable and ‘naked’ as a duet. We dealt with what is essential and not superfluous. The four of us- Cecil Mikroutsikou, Yiannis Nikolaidis the performers and Antonis P. the musician and myselfwe had this common need to enter into creation process again. So we began to rehearse, but we had no idea what we were going to do. Once in the studio, we discovered we had common difficulties with our relationships, coincidentally. So ‘Forest’ emerged and developed into a study of everyday life and repetition. We kept the movement strictly confined to an initial looped phrase, since whatever else we tried to add felt foreign to it. Once we defined the subject we followed the piece and its subject through: wear and tear of everyday life – decay. This is decay is a ‘fact’, a socially acceptable consensus through which


one can end up in monstrous situations: you can be at the wedding thinking of killing the other person at the same time, or this can be happening on a daily basis-imagine this. In ‘Forest’, in a way Cecil ‘says’: grab me by the hair and pull me around, I ‘m ok with that and society seems to have no problem with that either. There is a silent contract- I am going to pull you by the hair and you are going to like it. Then we went back in time. We looked into the roots of how we came to today. Our research into our ancestral heritage, lead us to the man-woman relations in Polynesia, which led us to “Taboo” (a word that come from Polynesia). We then studied the Maori war dances, read more about the social function of taboo, which protects societies from incest, an idea similar to the forbidden fruit idea from western cultures. Today for incest cases there are trials, while there it was punished by death. In Polynesian societies, teenage daughters move away from their fathers in order to live elsewhere, on the grounds of approaching womanhood. We found that there were certain similarities to western psychoanalysis theories, like the Oedipus syndrome. Interestingly, each tribe had a special-sacred animal that protected it and marriages were only allowed between people of different sacred–animal tribes, which means of different genetic material. Spatially in “Forest’ the performers are always facing each other, while in ‘Taboo’ they never look at each other (taboo), always next to each other, communicating in different ways. At the end of the show, they dance a western-type dance, the blues, a decision based on us living now, still having to live our everyday lives despite this consequential burden from our history. In ‘Porn’ we will be investigating the idea of measure, the relationship of man with moderation and man’s tendency to exaggeration. We will not focus only on sex, but on the moderate /immoderate basic concept.


Is questioning actually the process? I am constantly questioning, being alive for me equals questioning. When you stop questioning you die. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Yes. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Not everyone is looking for a message, some people feel lost without one- when there is one they feel they can understand. Others feel comfortable as an audience, even without a message. You also have to define what message is. A message doesn’t need to be linear or rational. A message can just be intensities or images, not necessarily narrative. What does it mean to produce work? It helps me understand life, myself and the others. And it helps me communicate. After all these questions are not only mine. How did you start this research? Discussion with the ones involved in the show, searches on the web, books, photographs, texts and free association. Are you interested in the individual? Yes. In the same way that I set my questions, I want each performer to do the same for themselves. I want them to be themselves, so that they interact from a personal basis from which they can absorb materials. Your reactions are for real, when you are yourself. So the more space I give them, the more real they can become and I can set the limitations afterwards.


Do you have a specific method? No. I don’t know what method is. Do you consider yourself funny? Why not? My work is not trying to be funny, if something funny comes up we let be, it’s the same like nudity, only if there is a need for it. We won’t put it there for the sake of it. Are you interested in text or sound (voice) in your work? Yes. Interested in sound, not text in the theatrical sense. I use texts for situation, specific energy or content. I use text as soundtrack or movement. Never in the sense of language -in order to communicate something- I use it either as an extension of the body or like music. Is text improvised too? Some texts are improvised, some recited, or just sometimes it is just sounds exuding from a physical state. Are you an artist? Yes. Are you a good artist? I don’t know. Do you like your work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Do others like your work? The same. Sometimes yes sometimes no.


Are you happy with how you do things? No. How would you be happy? I would be happy if I were more organized, if I didn’t feel the futility of it all that intensely, if my work would continue, rather than fade away after each piece. You constantly have to be reborn from your own ashes. Are you teaching workshops? Yes, improvisation to children, based on Laban star and their own movement. In my teaching, I try to strengthen the children enough-not only physically-so that they master their own movement. Is your work set or improvised? It comes from improvisation and sets itself at some point, when the time comes. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? I use intuition all the way through. I might have small goals, for instance within this week we need to finish this bit or that. I work with intuition, linked to tension. When I am the spectator of my piece, I watch it with my ‘tension-meter’ switched on! I see whether I can get what I need it: am I bored, am I restless? Do you have a daily practice? Pilates, and lately my plants are becoming extremely important, I look at them daily, I stroke them… My daily practice is my plants, my crystals and tidying the house.


Do you create scores? I never write notes. If I would need to rework something, what I have is what’s left of the piece in my head and the video. Memory, the visual and the present moment affect how I would rework something. How do you archive your work? Video. I am very bad at that. Do you believe in less is more? I do now. It is part of growing up. I don’t need this, or that anymore. I don’t need to prove anything and not everyone has to like it. Would you say your work is dance-theater? No, not now, maybe I was a bit more in the past, now no longer. The work becomes more abstract. Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? I am influenced by life, not other arts. I don’t have the time to see things, anyhow. I feel closer to the art of cinema in the sense that you can move from one scene to the next by a simple cut, like in editing. How do you treat the body in your work? With respect, but at the same time, I can’t say I don’t take the body to its limits. When I am going near the physical limits, I am trying to go there together with the dancers. I am not imposing it, I try to gradually go there, so that they feel good and understand why we are doing this. It is not my body after all. Time? Fast. I am impatient. Ants in my pants, I they say.


Space? For me space has its own ritual. Each point in space has a special meaning; there is a special semiology for each point and its counterpoints. Different points in space have a memory of their own, returning to a point is also returning to its history and what happened there. Lights? I don’t use the lights solely for the purpose of being able to see the dancers. I don’t need lights to be discrete. With lighting design you can associate with a familiar image in nature or some other atmosphere. I use lights as natural sources and artificial sources and switch from one to the other. Set? No set anymore. Before I used minimal set. Costume? In past works, costumes were frenzy. It can also be a choice of something symbolic reflecting social conditions. Now, it is bare essentials. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Oh yes. How has that affected you? I stopped choreographing for two years, after ‘Prometheas’ in Stegi, Onassis Cultural Foundation. I had a lot on my plate and it took me some time to recover. It felt like a total life failure, it was a terrible experience.


When you started your company back in 2000, were you dissatisfied with the kind of dance that was on offer at the time? Yes, I was mainly dissatisfied as a performer back then. I was dissatisfied by the options of dance companies I could work with, but at the same time I was dissatisfied with my own performance as a dancer. These two things lead me to become a choreographer. Maybe if I was living elsewhere, I would have kept on dancing for ever? Or maybe I would have become a choreographer regardless of where I was. Is your work Greek? What is Greek? I don’t know what Greek is. I don’t know what a contemporary Greek person is. I find the predicament of inadequacy in defining what a Greek is, a much more significant concern than defining whether my work is Greek or not. Is there a Greek dance scene? Can you identify Greek characteristics? I can distinguish Israeli dancers and choreography anywhere, there is something I can recognize. As for the Greek dance scene, we all know each other, I know the dancers, I see the people behind the work and it’s hard to say. I can identify Greek dancers; they are very generous, exuberant and extroverted. They are very open and give a lot of themselves on stage. In fact, it is easier for me to recognize a Greek dancer, than a Greek choreographer. I suppose I can’t distinguish any generic characteristics because I know the people. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why does your work matter? If we stopped making work today, nobody would notice, it wouldn’t even have a butterfly effect. If you were not there anymore, no one would take notice. There is a profound feeling of futility and loneliness in thinking that. At the same time, our work matters to me, and it is really important for us. And you never know, in our


last production, there was this girl in our audience who came to the see the show three times- she was moved to tears and said it changed her life. Maybe it matters to other people apart from myself and I don’t know it. What do you wish for? I wish that the effort and energy we put into our work, can continue somehow rather than being constantly disconnectedsimply because it is very difficult to start all over again, every single time. 2015


Dimitris Tsiapkinis Could you briefly introduce yourselves? I am a dancer also branching off to different directions, of what dance can offer to one’s personal life and pedagogy. Transmission is a word I like both as a pedagogue and a dancer on stage. Expression and creation is something you transmit as a choreographer, as a dancer and as a pedagogue. Dance became my profession although I didn’t expect this at first. When it did, it seemed strange to me that I was earning a living from dance. I first started dancing when I was 18; dancing was subconsciously fulfilling a narcissistic need, a connection to my libido and subsequently questioning the relationship to myself. I was feeling that through dance I was becoming more beautiful, whilst I was feeling ugly. Dance helped me accept my body image; it helped me bond again with my own body which I was detached from, due to cultural and personal experiences. I was a typical insecure teenager. Dance offered to me strategies to cope with being in the ‘real’ world, to approach people and like other youngsters practice seduction games. On the way to dance, I went through narcissism-I guess as dancers we are partly the work of art, we become repeatedly ourselves our own “aesthetic product”. I started off with Jazz Dance (with Dinos Fanaras at the Judith Neil Dance studio), then I studied ballet (with Judith Neil and Jannis Margaronis) as my teachers insisted for it, but even then I was really looking for contemporary dance. In 1986, in Thessaloniki there was no contemporary dance, really. Back then, I had seen a show by the American Ballet theatre II (neoclassical, athletic and form oriented) but in it, there was a modern dance duet (man and woman) with an expressionistic attitude that really moved me. I thought to myself ‘this is what I want’, something with more of an apparent freedom of expression, since classical ballet seemed too structured and strict and jazz seemed too stylised to me. My first experience with contemporary dance (or rather modern dance) was in Berlin in 1987, where I studied Graham.


What do you want to question with your current project? A little introduction first: As a choreographer I work on solos – continuing my personal self-analysis research – and also collectively as I did in the past with the xsoma dance collective, in Greece. In my xsoma creations I signed as ‘concept and artistic direction’ while ‘choreography’ was signed by all of us involved. Ideas coming from the dancers shape the narrative, so the works are rather collective compositions under a central direction. I also work on group pieces directed by myself as a choreographer, which are hybrids: a mixture of pedagogy and performance art. These are professional and amateur performances, pedagogical experimentations brought on stage. (I rarely do pedagogical projects without sharing the final result with an audience.) The current project falls into the same category; it got funded for the 2nd time this year from the Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs (Centre – France). It is a pedagogical project in which amateurs, professionals, psychiatric hospital nurses, psychologists and 4- 5 persons with mental disorders are all involved. I now live in Tours- France. I went there, leaving the Tolada Dance Company in Berlin, in order to follow my favourite choreographer Bernardo Montet. {He is a French representative of the nouvelle vague, of the 80’s. He is one of the 20 choreographers who changed the facts of contemporary dance in France back then. Catherine Diverrès and Bernardo Montet established the Studio DM dance company together, they codirected the Centre Chorégraphique National de Rennes and later on they split up continuing independently their projects.} My current project Newtopia, was a product of timing and coincidence. I feel lucky. I didn’t need to get too stressed in order to find the dance I wanted. I followed my desire and this took me where I had to be. My love for psychoanalysis brought me into expressivity adventures, even in extreme spaces such as in the mental hospital. That’s where Newtopia was born. But first, I need to explain its historical background. My Somatics (or Kinesiology) studies – after Alexander and Feldenkrais – brought me progressively to the field of pedagogy of perception, a method developed by osteopath and physiotherapist Danis Bois. {A method that originated from Fascia therapy, which I also studied, and is an evolutionary branch of osteopathy that became


autonomous in the 90’s}. I had also been interested in psychoanalysis and psychology, since I was 12. (Even though I didn’t really understand everything I was reading from those complex subjects at that age, I was already motivated to keep reading more.} In 2005 my director Bernardo Montet decided to do a project with mentally ill people and invited me to join in. Initially we were a team of 3 people, but within 6 months he asked me to take over the direction and experiment as I wished. So I did and stayed with it, it’s been already 10 years. Working with them, I observed carefully their development, what was happening, realised when the patients were ready to be exposed to others and later on ready to stand the gaze of the audience. Today, some of them don’t need the psychologist or a nurse to accompany them, they become autonomous, some take the bus on their own, some no longer stay in the psychiatric ward, some just visit the hospital weekly. So we eventually started putting on stage the work we developed and that’s when I choreographed Zéro-virgule-quatre (2011), two years before initiating the Newtopia series. In the meantime, I did a master’s degree on the pertinence of contemporary dance in the psychiatric context – it took me 3 years to finish and…increased my long sightedness! I did this in order to put my thoughts in order because I am the kind of person who is always creating and continuously has new ideas having hardly time enough to develop them (one step further and I would be considered psychotic!). That is my artistic side, the dancer’s posture: improvising infinite possibilities. The dancer in me is constantly creating new material and so I actually need the choreographer in order to structure and build something. My natural inclination is to enter into an improvisation and ‘travel’ in it, to enter into chaos, to be open towards the new forms continuously, to remain within a flow where one thing brings the next one and so forth. This is also the way I work with the group, I have a palette of ideas, I enter the space, I sense how they are, I feel how I am, I can sense when they are about to become violent or when it is ok to not play it safe. I allow myself the space for inspiration- after all I am not there to cure them, I am not a therapist, I come with the joy of the dance maker, with my current creative state. I speak to them, address them as dancers and we discuss what comes out of


what we do. It is therapeutic, they feel the benefits, they attain a sense of value for themselves, and it becomes more significant when it develops into a performance. It matters. There is a kinesthetic exchange between us. What I feel they do, they also feel it is happening, they perceive it, become more aware, establishing a kind of kinesthetic intelligence. There is a moving affect, which involves the whole body: empathy (both kinesthetic and intellectual). And this is the most important workshopMovement empathy. The perceptive pedagogy (D.Bois) has developed a concept called réciprocité actuante (actualizing reciprocity) which is exactly that : a complex form of kinesthetic empathy. Why? Did you choose this concept? I was about to stop dancing just before I moved to France. I gave myself a deadline of a year- if I didn’t find something that moved me in contemporary dance I would stop dance altogether. I mean move me psychologically, intellectually and spiritually. My girlfriend had moved to France at the time, dancing with BouvierObadia in the CNDC of Angers and that’s where she had seen Bernardo’s work in an artistic residency. She suggested to fly over and take his audition in Paris; it was springtime 1995. And so I did. Just experiencing Bernardo’s approach during the audition gave me enough appetite to carry on dancing. I had found what I was looking for! The audition felt like as generous as a seminar, for all 120 of us there. (He had already turned down 300 applicants just by considering their resume). This auditionworkshop lasted 3 days. I was called back 2 months later for another 2 days of audition- by then it was only 20 of us and he would only take 8. I finally got the job and 2 years later Bernardo told me that he gave me the job mostly because he thought I was strongly motivated. He thought I was not really ready for that kind of work. He said that he could see that I was questioning dance (modern dance and dance theater) after my graduation from the North Carolina School of the Arts (USA, 1991). {Alwin Nikolais and Merce Cunningham influences} After the audition with Bernardo I told him that I had found what I was looking for in contemporary dance, and this is what he meant when he said I thought you had a strong motive. For me, his work was a kind of


existential postmodern dance – not at all formalistic; in fact he was closer to Butoh and to physical theater. Bernardo would always say to us dancers that he doesn’t want to see us doing/executing the choreography, but he wants to see WHO and WHY we are on stage. By this point, I have grown to accept the fact that all of us in dance have to go through both phases: dancing and making choreography. I was discussing this recently and eventually the conversation arrived to non-dance and conceptual dance (which actually gets on my nerves because of the “absence of body”). Example: In 2001, I had a conflict with Jerôme Bel, during his press conference at Kalamata International Dance festival. I had seen his show and there was something which annoyed me in his famous “nom donné par l’auteur” (1994). There was a kind of intellectual arrogance in it, a general criticism against virtuosic choreography and dance. The main question was “What is a theater or dance performance?” But in my perspective, I found that his work was respectively similar to what he was criticizing. There was a kind of virtuosity in what he did, but in an intellectual way. Some of ‘us’ (the audience) seemed to understand his work, and so I thought I did too, but for me criticism is the work of critics and it felt to me that Jerome Bel’ s work was confined to a critical positioning against choreography itself. Apart from that critique, he did not offer anything else, didn’t go any further to redefine dance but rather tempted to redefine the concept of theater. But, it is not enough to read Foucault and be critical to make a dance; it could be performance art but not dance, because the body is absent. Butoh dancers did it before him and they managed to question dance globally without quitting the body. In his piece you could almost see two brains on stage; two disincarnated actors. In my opinion this work shouldn’t last more than 15 minutes, we get the point very fast; all this time on stage was unnecessary (for Bel it was necessary performance duration). My main interest is what is being transmitted while onstage. And for this work, the concept was clear both in the actual piece and in the text of the program, but there was no kinesthetic relationship with the spectator in this work. The performers were isolated, detached from the audience, in some kind of autism: another approach of body-asobject rather than body-as-sensitive subject. You can see on his website an interview about this piece, with proof that he’s after a


theater of objects and not one where revolutionary states of dance are being explored or invented. He materialized the narcissism of dance once again but in an intellectual form. For me this piece could work as installation art, in and out of the theater; the audience having the freedom to see as much as they want and to leave when they want. I said publicly to Jerome Bel that I was so utterly bored while watching it, that it had made me want to lie down on stage, (downstage between the performers and the public) and…act as if I’m sleeping (which I never did out of respect to the spectators). Thus, intending to ‘participate’ according to his program text that included a definition of performance as something performed in front of an audience, inviting/encouraging different reactions from the spectators. When I mentioned boredom and lying down on stage as my reaction to his work, he responded by raising his voice and being counteroffensive. He finally didn’t let me explain my point. I considered this contradictory to his concept: provoke reactions from the spectators. By the way, critics love him: Finally, something intellectual where we can show-off our understanding of philosophy…I don’t appreciate critics that have no direct experience of dance in their being-bodies. For me the most pertinent critics are other choreographers. I often have this conversation on non-dance or conceptual art. We are cut off from Renaissance, we confirm and sustain the ‘problem’: the mind/body dichotomy. We are focusing on mind-intellect again without an organic anchoring to the body. In our time we should be making integral dance and dance training should include Butoh, African dance and conceptual dance. We need to reunite body and mind. We lose the body, it is disappearing and we fall back onto the mind hegemony again, we should try to keep the intellect and bring back the body. In France, there seems to be a call for change within the contemporary dance scene. I’ve heard the term Dance d’aujourd’hui and it might be coming from an effort to challenge the status quo of the established network of “Contemporary Dance”. Bernardo Montet is for me an example of an artist integrating intellectual and bodily avant-garde research. I’ve noticed that Butoh has become popular now in many networks. When it first appeared it was a political act, there was a reason for its appearance – why and where it developed. I am not sure I


really understand what it means for a dancer from France to do Butoh today. I understand being inspired of it and integrating it, but just reproducing its aesthetic is suspicious for identity issues, in my opinion. Contemporary dance should be integrating but also transcending stylizations of any kind and be open to kinesthetic multireferences. Likewise, the training of dance should really open up into many different techniques. On an historical perspective, we are going through a period in which we re-adopt and re-apply older values. I believe we should also incorporate traditional dances, in dance education. As artists we should incorporate, integrate and upgrade techniques and values. It is our job to question and develop whatever we re-adopt, in direct contrast to nationalists who just embrace and re-apply some old value/idea today, as it was. The artist is the one that has the responsibility to keep progress alive. Without order nothing can exist, without chaos nothing can evolve (Quote from unknown source). We artists are closer to chaos; in a way we are the guardians of chaos in a social context. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? When the artist starts overcoming narcissism, she/he might sense a need for something to be aesthetically pleasing, a need for one to find their idea beautiful and this beauty is what she/he wants to transmit or communicate with audience, colleagues, students et al. We share the idea-ideal, the beautiful, the good, the true; we have the need to see it happen, to make it happen- as if we are looking for allies in the audience. There is also the temptation to practice didactic art… Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Audiences are different, it really depends on the audience: the cultural background, etc.; whether they have come for entertainment, or with a more complex pursuit. Spectators come with different desires: ‘make me forget with a rhythmical and glaring metamorphosis of the world’ or ‘a desire not to forget but to remember’. I rarely choose entertainment as a spectator. Entertainment is like a drug, you forget, inhibitions are gone,


there is a direct impact in one’s expression; where there is entertainment there are fragments of recreation. {note: in Greek there are two words for entertainment one carries the notion of distraction and amusement in one’s free time, the other carries the notion of engaging in recreational activities that develop the person culturally} You can choose recreation in order to remember/ to keep on searching, and entertainment in order to enjoy and laugh. Some artists are not interested in the difference, after all entertainment involves aesthetic pleasure too. Maybe it is about a fine mix between the two so that neither wins the other over. Are you interested in the individual? In New York, I saw many shows both live and on video, both dance theater and abstract postmodern dance. Although I appreciated the historical revolution of Merce Cunningham, the waves of novelty that he provoked, I could not stand his insistence on the neoclassical “vocabulary” and the absence of individual expressivity. I followed the work of Pina Bausch and Bouvier Obadia from a distance; mostly on videos. It felt like European dance was more about the psychological/spiritual dimensions and that the American dance was more about form and athletic performance at the time. I had really missed that European approach rooted in the individual and this is why I returned to Europe, in order to find this spirit, to work with the singularity of the performer, to work based on who the other person is. Do you have a specific method? Yes, this is why I decided to do a Master’s degree, in order to clarify my methods and not rely on intuition alone. I used an intuitive and adaptable model, I had the experience of working with different groups: from homeless Madagascar children, professional dancers, housewives from the suburbs, primary school children, mental hospital patients, old people in homes…. {In a retirement home we shot a video-dance; there was a 94-yearold lady on a wheel chair working together with children, we were all very moved.} As I said before my favourite dramaturgical forms are dance-theater, physical theater and interdisciplinary performance art. I apply compositional approaches with a social aspect (inclusive / integrated dance) that resonate with the


devised theater method, the Fluxus movement (Maciunas, Cage, etc.), and various improvisational strategies that promote authenticity. There is fluidity in my approaches. You adapt according to the people you are working with, with an immediate reciprocity continuously updated (réciprocité actuante in French)- a kind of kinesthetic empathy. I think in theater they call it discovery blocking (An approach to actors’ movements that allows a spontaneous organicity resulting from authentic situations during rehearsals.) Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Mainly interested in texts, as for sound I use music ranging from electronic experimental to traditional music with primitive elements. Contemporary abstract soundscapes are not even considered to be music, by some. It is sound though, originating from matter captured and manipulated by artists. I often use them because they allow more freedom of expression from the dancers. Dancing to the music is boring to me intellectually and I use it only in very specific context. Cunningham was one of the first to “save us” from dependency on music. Physically I can enjoy dancing to the music: it’s like dancing with a partner and adapting to her/his movement. Texts: I either write them myself or ask a performer to write them, or use something external to the process that resonates conceptually to what we are creating. For the work ‘fraises indigo’ (2014), we eventually incorporated a text that fitted perfectly the piece: an excerpt from a play by young director Claire Rengade, with a complex narrative and structure. This year we are working on texts by Aristophanes. {I used to be snobbish towards the idea of using ancient Greek theatre texts, but here I am doing this now, drawing inspiration from this distant cultural reference.} I sometimes ask the group to bring texts and use them in singing crazy singing using the voice at the extremes. Like during the collaboration with a singer in Ecclesiazusae (the Assembly women) by Aristophanes. Although this particular text has common contexts with the current financial crisis, it was a choice made by chance (I had discovered the text on the web). Just before that, I had worked another piece with women only, a group that was chosen for its socioeconomic fragility (reinssertion socio


economique in French). That program was initiated by an organisation and B.Montet’s company and was inspired from “The Eumenides” by Aeschylus. What does it mean to produce work? Headache. I am a rather lazy dancer, I want to read and watch shows, visit museums and exhibitions. I mean lazy in the administrative and promotional process. I find it difficult to be a producer. I don’t really like it. I want to either be in the studio creating dance pieces or out of the studio researching (i.e. continuing with my personal investigations: calling it research sounds more cool…). The working social class I come from gave me the opportunity to read books, to travel to different countries and get involved in the arts. Production involves a lot of writing of projects, fund research, etc. and I could give up dance because of this part of the work. I remember that at the choreographic center of Tours there were 10 people working only in production. How can a small company deal with the mass of paperwork necessary for a dance production? Many, like myself, manage to do this, but at the cost of many administrative errors or limited time for actual dance research. I think the time is ripe for a redefinition of the production and subsidy complexity and many artists seem to be inventing new models or reviving older ones. The most essential for me at this point of my life, is to redefine spirituality in art, whether you can sell your work or not… Transcend the egocentric artist’s archetype (pretentious and know it all) and integrate a Cosmo-centric posture (being in service to and empathic to others). Are you an artist? According to what I have studied, I should be. Yet in my own definition, I am something between a pedagogue and an artist. I have been interested in teaching since I have been a child and I have a passion for pedagogy. The position I adopted is actually a mix between the pedagogue and the artist.


Are you a good artist? The audience completes your work. Whether something is “good”, has to be decided by the ones watching and sharing the work. Do you like your work? I like it a lot, if we take out the…production fuzz! Do others like your work? Yes, and this is why I carry on- assuming also the exhausting production fuzz…Of course there are always people who cannot connect with my personal aesthetic. It is inevitable. Are you happy with how you do things? No, I would like to find the time that I need to take more seminars, to re-become a student more often, to have more time in the studio, have more time for my family (I recently did a master’s degree, became a father and became a freelancer, all at the same time!). Now I need to look for or rather create time, so that things don’t escape from me, to manage to take classes or a workshop, look for new music or whatever one needs to revitalize oneself. Are you using the principle of improvisation? Absolutely! Sometimes the subject we are dealing with inspires for a series of improvisations, which I propose to my team. Very often, material comes out of these initial improvisations. I use improvisation in a fluid manner- sometimes it is about the specific way someone reads a text… For example, one performer can’t memorize, gets tired by reading and often sees things double, due to a car accident she was in. I decided to give up on the idea of precision with this text and asked her to say whatever remained of the text in her mind. This turned out to be very funny and so I laughed and then she laughed and she started having fun with what came up each time. So instead of her being unhappy because she couldn’t remember, we allowed her “issue” to re-sculpt the text. Her doing so enhanced the text, gave her more self


confidence while making the audience laugh. In any case it was a rather absurd text by Russian writer Daniil Kharms, an antiStalinist who used undercover humor for his critique of Stalin. That was just another example of discovery blocking as mentioned before. There are many ways to use improvisation, but in general I focus on promoting genuine expressivity. Is your work set or improvised? As I said, I apply discovery blocking which is often used in devised theater methods. We necessarily play with both fixed scenarios and improvised situations if we want to preserve the performer’s authenticity at the moment of action. On a previous collaboration with a musician (a duet, or a trio depends how you see it; with me as a dancer, a musician and a computer interface), is both set and improvised. The musician has a particular score but the computer interface constantly changes it, so there is a re-composition of the work in real time while I’m exploring ecstatic states. There are psychoacoustic effects in which you feel the sound pierce the materiality of the body; somehow it feels like being swept off by a wave. There is minimalism, in the sense of ecstatic states being provoked by repetition, volume or sound frequency. There are materials that reappear, although there is improvisation at play. In some shows the work is 70% improvised and 30% composition and in others, exactly the opposite. I am interested in structures that allow us to live and intensify the present moment or provoke altered states. Do you have a daily practice? Yes, although I miss classes with different teachers, which introduce me to other esthetic and technical approaches. I am occasionally allowed to take company class with a dance company here (a virtuosic kind of release). I also do Tai Chi and Kung Fu. {My teacher here in Tours, is one of the two Shaolin living in France. I started 10 years ago and I practice Tai Chi Chen-a style connected to combat as well as flow, in which there are also explosive movements and hence is more invigorating. I also train with bicycle and experimental fitness methods.


How do you treat the body in your work? Principally, I consider the body as subjective entity, a unified whole of multiple manifestations of intelligence: biological, psychological, cultural, social, spiritual; un-separated from the self, consciousness or whatever you wish to call it. I am passionately against the body-as-object approach. It disappoints me that at the same time that Somatics promote the body-assubject, we still see the body in postmodern dance being treated as an object, manipulated in order to transmit an idea. Some artists do it in order to denounce that kind of treatment! But then I say: enough with the postmodern denunciations! Let’s propose something new instead for endlessly criticizing the old ways. The body-as-object can still be seen in the non-dance current, or with certain representatives of Belgian new dance. I accept it in others’ works, but in my own I strongly refuse this approach. I’m opposed to the physical and psychological abuse that choreographers like Vandekeybus or Fabre impose to their dancers. {Two more dancers and I once walked out from a Vandekeybus audition in Prague back in the nineties, because of his disrespectful behavior towards the dancers. He treated us exactly like body-objects, means to an end: a choreographic product in the narcissistic stage of art}. We are now in a new body era: I don’t HAVE a body. I AM a body. Time? As far as I can work with experienced people, I dare to use slowness and duration explorations. Approaching and connecting to the sensitive-body-subject, is important to me but I use the slowness carefully, in order to avoid autistic situations. I feel the audience doesn’t want see this and if they get bored you ‘ve lost the game. Only when performed with certain reciprocity, the spectator can feel the value and relate to it. {It is really difficult and rare for slowness to maintain the spectator’s interest or even better to intrigue his/her kinesthetic empathy. I saw choreographer-dancer Carlotta Ikeda in her 60’s travelling on a diagonal, which took her approximately 20 minutes! It was amazing. I had read in the program that she meditates for two


hours before appearing onstage. And when she did everyone seemed absorbed by her presence…} Space? I am concerned with the notion of conventional space, for theatre and for architecture because it is connected to the subjectivity of the body. The space transforms through the sensitive body, both the space inside and outside the body. {I still remember the relationship with space in the first choreography I ever danced with Bernardo Montet. Bernardo had asked me to walk really close to a duet he did with another dancer, at an appropriate speed, so the audience would ‘forget’ about me. I used a Ỉutoh walk focusing on my body as a distorted proprioceptive space, projecting space behind my skull in a sensitive way, dragging it behind me; this walk was more about the kinesthetic integration of my body and the space.} Fascia therapy (Danis Bois) also helped in becoming more sensitive to the micro-details inside myself. I learned how to focus on kidneys, feel their volume, temperature and movement. It was an unforgettable experience. I was also influenced by the integral theory: bodily, emotionally and intellectually informed. Through human contact we become a part of culture, a part of a group (just like in meditation – it is a much stronger experience when a lot of people meditate together) All of the latter coordinates helped me. Lights? I have not developed my knowledge in lighting design; I always left it to the lighting designer. Despite me being intuitive with lighting choices, I am scared of lighting design as a time and money consuming procedure. I’d rather dance with general lighting and keep the focus on the performance quality. Of course, if I had the luxury – time- or budget-wise – I would absolutely dive into the magic of lighting design with a talented artist.


Set? Rarely. If I had someone working on production and budget, I would use set more often but as with lights, it’s not my priority. Body-mind and its states are my main focus. Costume? About the same, a little easier, I find it important but not a priority. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Yes, quite often. I fail in making choices during certain parts of my life. What dance has offered me is invaluable. It is more my personal life, like certain moments in which I allowed problems to take up too much of my time, distracting me from how I prefer to work. How has that affected you? It gives me new momentum, an impetus, a kind of anger because I did not succeed what I aimed for. It boosts my energy. You try to change things; you prepare yourself and plan ahead. What do you wish for? Newtopias, like the title of the mini festival we create. I see fragments of newtopia developing around the globe, while as a kid; I had nightmares of ecological catastrophes and was afraid of the end of the world‌. I need to feed on the simple solutions people come up with, bottom up. This is my wish, that there is an increase of such initiatives on a socio-economic, ecological and artistic level. So that what we dream of, can participate in human evolution. Is your work Greek? Not necessarily, I suppose there must be some local cultural elements inhabiting my work, since I was born there. Moreover, in


the style of dance I chose lays a fusion of many cultures and traditions. When I look back to works I have done in the past, I see influences of American and French postmodern dance, of German neo-expressionism, of Japanese Butoh, of Greek ancient tragedy or Modern Greek pop culture. Like most artists, who want to devour the world, only tiny fragments of a national identity remain. I don’t consider myself or my dance as Greek but as a work containing certain cultural elements from Greece. I’m not a Greek dancer: I’m a dancer from Greece. Is there something you can recognise as Greek dance? This is a difficult question; I don’t see much Greek dance. When was in Greece I would see quite a few performances with an impressive virtuosic release-type style. It seemed to be the main current at the time. I am not in touch with the work there, but from what I have seen – mostly after 1997 – I would say there is a kind of Greek-ness to it, but not as in a national identity. I had seen a show by a dance company Sine qua non, ‘the night of the goat (scapegoat)’ which was based on Greek elements and I was quite moved by the research they had done- a powerful fusion that integrated and transcended tradition. Somehow in that piece, release technique was not too foreground, there was a crossfertilization between physical theater, release technique and Greek dance elements. There is value in this fusion, bringing forward questions to the audience, communicating with a wide audience addressing Greek-ness. I would like to add something, concerning the writer that ‘The Matrix’ movie was inspired from. I found this out two years later after having watched the movie, through an interview with an American philosopher Ken Wilber: “the merchants in alliance with the scientists are colonizing the ethical and psychological part of our world”. He referred to the ancient trinity: good (Ethics), beautiful (Art) and true (Science). It is like the science we use today: it overtakes the ethical and the beautiful and this is why we have a society in crisis; a society that sells everything out. I am looking for any little bits, or signs that can show that things can change. There is group here in France operating in horizontal structures, called Colibri. {Their name comes from the myth in which there is a fire in the forest and all the animals flee it, all


apart from the colibri, which takes one drop of water in its beak and goes into the forest to put the fire out. When the animals ask him what is he doing, he replies ‘that is all I can do, but I will not stop’. In seeing this reaction, the rest of the animals come back and start to try and put out the fire out too.} This Colibri group, creates projects mainly focusing on ecology, work on suggestions of ideas by other people creating networks of solidarity for different projects/causes and functions like a cooperativa. This group gives me a lot of hope, especially since I live in Tours that is a rather bourgeois city. Thank you. tsiapkinis@yahoo.com http://www.omniviations.com/


Kirirakos Hadjiioannou Could you briefly introduce yourselves? I’ve started out as a performer, and during the last four years or so, I create my own productions. I had the chance to be in Switzerland, where cultural support is actually working. I thus have the opportunity to do productions that can pay the people I work with, and I can feel like I’m doing a normal job. I studied at the Greek State School of Dance, and then did a Master’s degree in Applied Theatre Studies, Choreography and Performance in Giessen. This Master program expanded my network, and my potential to write concepts, and develop work in a different and broader sense than just dance. These studies are an eclectic mix of philosophy, architecture, theoretical approaches of history, and different forms of performativity. It is directly connected to academia, and most students continue their academic work (by doing a PhD, or similar stuff) while others go into practice. It offers solid theoretical knowledge, and a holistic idea of what performance is today: how to use new media and language, how to work in different spaces. Before Giessen, I’ve been living in Berlin for four and a half years. For five years now, I’ve been based in Basel, and I’ve founded my work there. I work in different spaces, and I try to create one or two productions per year on my own, and participate in one production per year as a performer. Also, I’m involved in educational projects for children. I collaborate with Basel’s association „Gare des enfants“, working on experimental music. So far, there is a group of 15 kids who act as both dancers and pianists, working on sonatas and interludes for prepared piano by John Cage, and introducing notations by Merce Cunningham. What do you want to question with your current project? The next project is called “Mysterion”. I question what is hidden during the making of a production: the texts, notations, notes, all that is hidden from the spectator. I take all these materials, share them, and develop these ideas together with a group of local people (they can be artists or not, can be a band members or family members). Each performance will be different since each


performance will have different guests, and we will perform actions relevant and according to the guests. I am currently a resident and associate artist of Kaserne theatre (“Kaserne” meaning “barracks”) working with my team towards the premiere in May 2016. I was chosen as the resident artist 2014-15 at Kaserne theater, as part of a pilot project funded by Pro Helvetia in which major theatres are to select and include one resident artist. Why did you choose this concept? I wanted to question esotericism in performativity in theatre. I‘ve researched into different shamanistic rituals and ceremonies. Shamanism has a lot to do with healing: but what is healing? The Shaman has a special role in the community, and is respected, but not like a doctor or a mayor is. In this project, I try to combine the ceremonial and esoteric forms in art and healing, and connect these practices with the performativity of the here and now. I started to investigate ceremonial practices in Mexico, Mongolia, and South Africa. In the two countries I’ve already visited, Mexico and Mongolia, I encountered some really interesting shamans, while this winter I will be continuing my research in South Africa: Johannesburg, Mozambique, and Cape Town. There are several different festivals there, which make it easier to contact and approach the kind of people I am looking for. My proposal from all of this research and travelling sounded quite exotic, even to me, but fortunately institutional people embraced the concept. At the same time, I don’t want to assume the position of the privileged European artist ‘bringing back home’ or ‚adopting‘ new exotic forms of dance. It is within my intentions to exchange and blend in with the locals, and this is why within this project I will invite a group of local people in each city in order to create together – different rituals each time. Is questioning actually the process? Not always. I am questioning something that interests me, something I don’t know or something I’m occupied with. In our work, we start with questioning in order to develop something that can be shared with an audience.


The last project’s title was ‘Or who owns the world’. When we perform it, the first (missing) half of the title sentence seems to be the place we are performing. I play with this – for instance when we performed in Athens it read like this: “Onassis Cultural Culture, or who owns the world”. During my Master’s studies one of our professors was Bojana Kunst – who is also very much a political thinker. I was very impressed by the Weimar Cinema films she introduced us to. The film I worked with in “Or who owns the world” is called “Kuhle Wampe”, and watching it felt like a déjà-vu, since Greece was in a similar crisis. This film and the situation of Greece felt very similar to me. {The production is driven and informed by “Kuhle Wampe” the German political film from 1932 which freely translates as “empty stomach” and which was released in English under the title “Kuhle Wampe”, or who owns the world“. The film, which was directed by Slatan Dudow, scripted by Bertolt Brecht, and features music by Hanns Eisler, tackles the acute social problems facing Weimar Germany (unemployment, fierce political clashes) shortly before the Nazi take-over. The production restates the film’s exploration of the concepts of solidarity, collective organization, equality and social utopia, making them relevant to our own era, and seeks an answer to an important question: to what extent is our presentday political thought and action incorporated into current artistic practice?} Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? How interested is the audience in my question, in what I am preoccupied with? Do I keep my questions authentic? Do I put forward a question in order to be liked? Do I make it open and accessible for the audience? I don’t have the answer to these questions. This is why I work together with people, with dramaturges and other colleagues. My colleagues are artists, they are not there as tools. Input from others helps the work so that it doesn’t become too personal and hence insular. And when I am alone in a project, how to deal with my personal fears and doubts? How do I see my own ideas displaced by my colleagues? I am very interested in this although it is frightening. I am trying to understand how the work happens…


Do you think audiences are looking for a message? This depends strongly on the audience as individuals. Sensitive spectators can also get a feel of this kind of work, but when we are dealing with notations, dance scores and peculiar movement languages, is this really open to the broad audience? Do you have a specific method? I try to develop a specific methodology for each different project. It is a way of connecting to each one individually. I write a methodology, according to what the project needs and according to the performers. For example, if one project is created for elderly female performers, I use a specific method for it – and the next project could be for younger performers of both genders, and it will thus need a different method. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? I am! But my fundamental principle, and my starting point for every project, for that matter, is movement. What does it mean to produce work? It means to put my inner questions and my research into practice, and to be able to share all of the above with the community of my colleagues, and then with the audience. Are you an artist? I definitely think or live like an artist – if I understand the definition of what an artist is nowadays. Are you a good artist? What does it mean ‘good’? continuity in the work? I do work a lot, but I’ve tried to not have a production of my own last year, in order to give some more space to life, and to living it.


Do you like your work? I love my work. Do others like your work? I hope so. I hope that they have questions. It is super fine for me, if people don’t like the work, or even oppose to it. I am not searching for acceptance or recognition. I can appreciate oppositions and arguments to the work. In the last piece („Or who owns the world“) some spectators didn’t like that it ended with a children’s game. Others said it was the best part, ending this way. As far as I am concerned, I have done my thesis on this work and I know why I made this choice. Is your work set or improvised? There is a structure and a movement material that is set, and lately I started to play with improvisational elements. I use specific structures – I never start with an open field improvisation. I like to work within a specific frame also as a performer, so I try to do this in my own projects. The last production I’m working on as a performer, is with choreographer Simone Aughterlony: In “Uni*Form” we are all dressed as policemen on stage. Simone has this liking for stretching time onstage, even without very clear directions. One of her colleagues and co-author of the project (Jorge Leon) comes from film and photography, and was more interested in the aesthetics and in the ‘deeper’ questions embedded in the work. We are on a plateau of different actions, and the whole piece is actually based on structured improvisation. For me, coming from dance, and used to working within a rigorous frame, I struggled to enter this kind of process. I found this experience fascinating, although this kind of work is never really ready on the premiere. It develops through the shows. Do you have a daily practice? Sometimes… I change my practice. On the one hand I just get bored doing the same thing, and on the other hand I use different formats according to the project I am working on: put music and


dance, warm up different muscles by dancing in an ecstatic form, gaga dance, yoga… I don’t do so much contemporary dance classes anymore. I enjoy the use of repetition, in different situations. Do you believe in less is more? I don’t know anymore… When I began to work, I used this motto totally in the first few productions I did. I think I am changing now. Do more is more, can also be valid for me, at the moment. I am changing, and we don’t want to stick to the way we’re thinking a few years ago anyhow. Performer or creator? You mean, if I prefer to be a performer or to be a creator? First of all, I try to take both tasks seriously and responsibly. But when it is my own work, the responsibility is expanding it’s taken up by the other people in the production. How do you use the following elements of a stage performance? Time? I try to create different ‘times’, or create a different frame which places you in a different sphere. I use a lot of repetition and rewind. I am interested in bringing this element forward on stage. Space? I don’t like having the same space all the time, using the same kind of dance floor, and so on. I never do that. I want to create a different space for the upcoming project, like a theatre space, not referring to anything outdoor. To accentuate the idea of a proscenium, like a temple. Lights? In the last piece we – the performers – were dealing with the lights (actually moving them and having them visible onstage) because I worked with the Brechtian methodology, in which, very general,


the actor is a technician, too. So we moved the lights around ourselves. Light will play a different, and maybe more esoteric, role in “Mysterion”. We will try to connect stage light with astrology and by creating different daylight atmospheres. Set? Yes, I use it and love using set. Of course it depends on the project or what the project means. Costume? For “Mysterion” I will work together with Paris fashion designer Romain Brau. We will have the team and different guests each time dressed in crazy costumes. There’s going to be a collection of different pieces from Romain onstage and everyone will be free to choose what they want to wear on stage (both the performers and the guests). There will also be a catalogue of the clothes he designs for the audience to have a look and if they want to, they can order it directly. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? In a way, aren’t we all failing all the time? We step forward and have the impression do step backwards. How has that affected you? With less time for my personal life. Is your work Greek? Okay, I think I’m inspired by Greek mythology, and by the traditional dances from Greece. And I use some of the ideas I take from Greek culture history as a basis for approaches in the work, but I don’t know if this can already be identified as a “Greek way” of working.


Is there something you can recognise as Greek dance? I haven’t seen much since I am mostly abroad. I don’t really know what is happening, although I would like to see more Greek companies touring abroad. I am familiar with the work of Adonis Foniadakis, who also lives abroad. I think the Greek contemporary dance is much connected to the Belgium dance scene. What do you wish for? For myself and not only for myself, I wish that dance and art should be treated as a job, an occupation and not as a hobby or an activity. We should be able to live from this job. Dancers and choreographers shouldn’t have to do six other jobs in order to support themselves and their families. At the moment, I am privileged and I get paid, which is already good. I have another wish: I want to provide a platform for people to make interesting work. http://www.kiriakoshadjiioannou.com/ 2015


Vilelmini Andreoti Could you briefly introduce yourselves? I consider myself a political choreographer. I believe that my work has been shaped by what we are experiencing in Greece: crisis, austerity, unemployment, personal difficulties and how expendable we all are. I don’t think I would have been artistically motivated had it not been for the context I am experiencing, as well as having my children and everyday life. It is due to all this that I have become a political choreographer, working only on subjects with a political or social content. I studied sociology and dance at the same time. I continued with theater studies and finally did a Masters degree in LondonResearch in choreography and performance at Roehampton University. I work on dreams. I have been writing down my dreams for years. I am intrigued by the fact that a dream that lasts about 8 seconds in reality, within the dream it lasts an eternity or a whole day. I decided to work on this notion of dreamtime in real time. I was interested to see how long I can sustain things. My main entry points are: time, reality, illusion and ‘real’ desire as is expressed in dreams. Dreams can open up one’s horizon of thought while sometimes are ‘ready made’, already directed and choreographed works. They have a structure already that can be extended or reinforced. Dreams facilitate our access to imagination. Our conscious lacks this luxury of fantasy that is dissipating in our everyday lives. All children are artists with regards to accessing their imagination, their innocence and no sense of limits. In growing up we loose most of these but we still have dreams as a gateway to this openness. In this dream state, I believe in myself, I can create without limits and my brain lets go of real time limits. As Kazantzakis said: ‘Reach to where you cannot’. Dream is the unattainable. We can consciously think we don’t have the potential for something but if we follow our unconscious- there are no limits there. It is fear that places the limits, time is an illusion and in dreams time is ambiguous.


What do you want to question with your current project? For the past three months I have been working with refugees, so I deal with conflict. I am there (at the port) everyday, for the past three months. Apart from the mobilization and sensitization to the refugee problem, I am look at their hands and their gaze that troubles me. This sense of looking at their eyes and hands is similar to a project I created at EPT (Greek national television channel, shut down by the government, occupied later by the workers). I had access to the building and I was taking pictures of parts of their bodies, observing how their bodies changed while in that work place. I am currently taking pictures of refugees, documenting incessantly over the past 3 months: their gaze, their hands reaching out- my body as a vehicle to activism. I am a vehicle continuously conveying their fears and despair. I am a vehicle for the refugees transmitting their senses, the danger they faced and still face. I hand out food and clothes, just being practical. But if I had to consolidate this experience in an image, it would be hands reaching out through barriers. This experience at the port is also connected to a project based on A. Embirikos (Greek surrealist poet) and his work ‘Plous’ last May. I initially had a dream that felt like a calling, then started working on this piece and realized eventually realized that in that dream I had seen images that became reality two years later. In another project I was taking photographs of the ears of the workers in the national television channel. I shredded lots of newspapers and cut my hair and put all this back onto my head becoming a sort of Medusa. Is questioning actually the process? Not necessarily. My process involves dreams and the reflective practice that is dealing with these dreams. My intention is to dive and dig deep inside of me. I don’t set questions, I keep notes of this introspection and these notes become my research. ‘Repetition does not exist’ is a project in which I was combing my hair, continuously doing the same movement. We are living and experiencing moments and I believe that there is no repetition, only a same-ness. Each repetition is slightly different, there are different moments, different intensities. I first did the


performance and then I asked the questions. I observed when I was bored, when I got tired within this durational project of three hours. More questions arose later. The spectators had different reactions and interactions. Do you want this question to become the audience’s question? Foremost I want to experience something myself. The audience does not come into the initial intentions of my work. Also some of my work doesn’t belong to the stage and in any case requires a more informed spectator. Most audience members come already with a defensive or aggressive attitude towards the work, it is rare that they come unbiased and neutral- in any case each person has their own experiences and agendas. While performing I can sense the way the viewers perceive the work, whether they think this is something beyond limits or are looking deep into my soul trying to relate to it. Audience members from the dance field come with expectations of what they are used to with regards to the level of physical adequacy, a sense of climax and competent quality. During the project at the national television channel, a lady came to me at the end of the performance and offered me her earrings. I consider myself a performer rather than a dancer, also due to my age. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Audiences are looking for answers for their own lives and their own questions. I don’t think they are looking into my questions, yet sometimes they find and take something from what I do. I am personally really happy with ‘Cowlanding’ project, while I have a friend who was really moved by ‘Rubbish dump’. I feel that this has to do with her life, the connections she made, rather than the work. In “Rubbish dump” I am waiting dressed smart at a rubbish dump. Both of the aforementioned projects I dreamt of and I am not convinced I would have ever performed these had I not seen these dreams.


Are you interested in the individual/ characters /yourself? I like working with others, but dancers have not been responsive to my kind of projects. I primarily work on my own, now. Three years ago I was creating site specific performance projects, which were unfamiliar both to dancers and spectators. During the project at ERT-the national television channel (while public protests were being held for the closing down of the channel leaving 2500 out of work), I invited 17 dancers (dance students) to come at different times, and interact with spectators or me. The only specific task given was placing newspaper shreds on my hair. The instruction given was to interact in any way they wanted with everybody present, but their participation was minimal. It is difficult to find a budget for durational projects, to work for a month in site or to work with professional performers. Do you have a specific method? “I will dive” is a project in which I would dive into the sea leaving a cane behind me at the beach. It was inspired by an old lady which I had seen, accompanied by younger man, who left her cane close to the sea, so she could assist her self after her swimming to get out of the water. I was working on change. I was working blindfolded, going daily to the beach diving in the water with my coat on, leaving a cane on the beach. It felt like diving into the unknown. Change is unknown and this is why it scares us. When blindfolded you can accomplish some stable steps, while accept other steps being unstable. I am interested in how all of these experiences are recorded on my body. Do you consider yourself funny? In “Candy”, I really liked to be self-sarcastic, to appear both beautiful and ugly, to be open to change. Beauty is ugliness for me and I was processing what we consider ugly. I don’t like symmetry, symmetry empties me- asymmetry and difference intrigue me. The other day I saw a homeless black man, lying on the street with his trousers half down, his bottom exposed and flies sticking onto him, next to a solidarity center. What a contradiction… At first, he seemed dead to me, then I saw his


unconsciousness was due to alcohol or drugs. One woman was calling the police while this man lay next to a solidarity center. I was inspired by this image; I have a photographic eye for things. Are you interested in text or sound in your work? Yes, always. Since I was five years old. Both of my parents were working and the person looking after me (when they were at work) was coming from literature studies. We would do poetry lessons and so I started writing at an early age. My texts are dense and I have never published any of them. So if you use text, is it improvised? I work with what I have written already and I translate it into movement. Once I followed the reverse order of performing the movement first, recording it on video and then while watching it, wrote a poem. I have not yet attempted at composing movement and poetry at the same time. It seems too difficult since it involves different parts of me, different process. What does it mean to produce work? Producing – this word doesn’t connect to what I do. I create and when I create I operate in a particular state similar to a ritual, it is sacred. There is some sense of sacredness in certain moments and trusting these moments leads me. I am not sure I would use the word produce, I attest things- whether this is art or not, remains to be defined by history. This why we use the expression everlasting for some works, some art works act as harbingers. Are you an artist? I have no idea. I don’t know. Are you a good artist? These are questions to be answered by the audience, not by the artists themselves. It is nonsensical to respond to these questions because what a good artist is has to do with what remains, what is


left in history What is good art now will consolidate in due time. While the moment you perform, the work is an attestation of the present. Do you like your work? I like them very much and if I didn’t, I would not do it. There is something inside of me that I want to challenge- as one of my teachers suggested to me “Challenge your limits”. I want that everything that I do is experienced fully. It is not enough for me to stand on stage putting rubbish around me. I actually have to go perform at the rubbish dump itself. I am seeking for something specific and authentic. Do others like your work? No… I don’t know…. I am not recognized, but recognition is not a criterion for me. Some people really like the work and everybody does what they can for themselves. I don’t want to judge the audience nor be reinforced or annulled by viewer’s opinions. I believe more in time. I invest in time/history more than man because I am not convinced that man is mature enough yet. Of course when people are moved by what I do, it gives me strength to carry on… Some spectators are intrigued by what they see, my presence, the why or what I am searching for. In my work there is some representation in the sense that I shift from the actual dream to the pen that writes it- but I always try to further. A photographer or painter could do a translation/representation of a dream too. It is about the body and how it enters the process that makes this different: the body performing, developing, experiencing, recording. Are you happy with how you do things? No, I am not happy.


How would you be happy? I would like to see myself in a research center, maybe a space of my own. I would like to have the funds for a center to be able to offer the possibility to other like- minded artists. A space to experiment, because I feel there isn’t enough experimentation going on in Greece (there is, but only a little). A space in which one can write on the walls and transform it any way they like. There are many studios and dance schools but no space is dedicated to experimentation. I envisage a space where you can have the freedom to dig the floors, paint on the walls, experiment and excavate- experience experimentation without limits. That would make me happy. Are you using the principle of improvisation? I always use improvisation also in speech. Is your work set or improvised? Improvisation is a tool and I build on materials that come from improvisations. Some ideas come to me structured already. I might dream of a costume but since I always make everything myself improvisation is just a small part of what I do. If I dreamt of it, I will do it, like I saw it. Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Yes I do set goals even they form the last minute. I might have everything set out and organized, have the image, the beginning but I might not know the end, which usually comes during the last few days. I do have expectations-many: to be able to express what I want to say, to stick to the subject, to sustain the performance, to keep it up till the last minute. It is a fine balance to keep, needs a lot of strength to cope and deal with all that arises with yourself and your colleagues- sometimes you feel annulled or feel like giving up. For durational works, I now set a precise time of beginning and then I go on for as far as I can hold it. I used to set a specific time frame the beginning and ending time- which I could sustain if I had to. Now I prefer to follow the natural time of the


activity. In “I will dive” I had no time limit, sometimes I was there only for half an hour, but I was there every day for a month (at different times of the day usually in the morning). Duration is one part of the project, while another is extensity. I try to stretch out time, competing with myself and with time or sometimes I just prolong the duration. In a dream, although I know that the real duration was for example five minutes, the feeling was of being on that spot for three days. Do you have a daily practice? Yes, my children! There are periods in my life in which I do absolutely nothing with my body, periods in which I feel like I am sinking, although there are vicissitudes. When I do have a daily practice, I jog, I swim and I play basketball (I really like it and I used to be a basketball player when I was dancing). What do you think about solos? I did a solo-a duet with a cow. Spectators are not sure when something is a solo, I mean when someone speaks to me and I respond to them is it a solo or a duet? I keep open and responsive to what is happening. I don’t want that the performer looses their authenticity and I am negating the segregation of “the performer over here and the spectators over there”. I like to allow for all the different responses and reactions. We are all participants in this kind of work; spectators are also performers in another spectators gaze. I have also noticed that when you place the audience in a particular formation in which they have a mirror image of themselves they feel uncomfortable. I sometimes feel that the spectators are scared as much or more than the performer. Like two lions, the one with more intense dynamic becomes dominant. Do you create scores? I take notes and record everything, from what is happening backstage, the feelings that arise, the insecure moments, I write it all down.


Do you believe in less is more? Interesting line. But equally interesting is kitsch- in which everything is crammed together till there is no space for more. I find both strategies interesting, but when everything is there for sure there will be some things I like and some not. I would say I am more biased to less is more, although I have this desire to make a piece one day with a mountain of things and see how I will cope within this chaos. Yet another challenge- but that’s what we do- we try things out. Even on an image level you are inclined to focus on one or a few things even within chaos. There is a ‘less is more’ attitude operating even in a maximalist context. I wonder whether spectators prefer the minimalistic or pluralistic viewing, whether they just select what to keep. A few questions on the elements of performance: Time? There is a time frame in stage works. Onstage time counts on a practical sense, while in durational works, time functions on a psychological level. Space? I do have a problem with spaces and I have come up with the solution of video art in order to bring to the stage the atmosphere I wish. It is this sense of atmosphere I am after when I reach out to outdoor spaces, stage spaces seem too plain. Lights? I am clueless when it comes to lighting, I have worked with a lighting designer in the past giving them the sole direction: “Do as you like, I am really clueless with lighting”.


Set? I am very interested in set design. I used to design shop windows at my fathers clothes shop. Then I started designing clothes and then designing sets. I do everything by myself. Costume? I make the costumes myself- I design them and make them. Sometimes I work with a seamstress. The last costume I made was a construction like a raft of cables and other materials. How do you treat the body in your work? I allow for each performer to have their individual dynamic. I am interested in movement coming from the soul, in seeing the individuality of each performer. I am not interested in technique; I am moved by the movement that feels like it leaks from the hair or under the nails of the performer, the movement that disseminates from their soul. Despite the fact that I come from a ballet background I am not interested in technique. Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Of course. How has that affected you? It stopped me from creating for years. I danced as a performer in dance theatre groups, but shortly after I found what kind of work I wanted to do and left the company. When my mother died, I felt deeply revoked and I stopped dancing for the most important years for the body in dance (27-38). There definitely was a void with my body by then. My parents never wanted me to become a dancer. My mother was a pharmacist and my father a merchant and I had appeared like a piece of fireworks in their lives. At first I worked both as a dancer and dance teacher, but after this long absence it was difficult to find work again in dance-I had lost contact with the scene. Within this non- dance period I had 2 children and I sustained my creativity through writing.


What do you wish for? I wish to be well and be able to help those in need. I like to add the wish I aforementioned regarding the space for experimentation. http://vilmaandrioti.blogspot.gr/ 2015


Christos Papadopoulos Could you briefly introduce yourselves? My name is Christos Papadopoulos and I am a choreographer. I studied Politics at Padion University in Athens, where I also joined the university theatre group-discovering theatre. I then studied theatre at the National Theatre School of Greece. During my theatre studies, I discovered dance, through the dance lessons of the school but also took more dance classes independently. I then continued with dance studies at the SNDO School in Holland, a Bachelors degree in Choreography studies. What do you want to question with your current project? My experiment or the starting point of OPUS was the idea of visualizing a music score. Similar to screen savers affected by the music that’s playing, I questioned how vision can assist hearing or more specifically how seeing can influence the way you listen to Johann Sebastian Bach. At first, I wanted to conduct an experiment, working on a ‘quartet’ composition of music pieces by Mozart, Bach, Ravel and Beethoven. Looking into this idea more carefully, I realized I was giving myself a task that would take years to complete. I finally decided to focus and work solely on the Art of Fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. The question was how to lead the audience into experiencing the composition of a fugue. I chose to begin with silence, then rhythm and then melody: the first voice, the second voice etc. Each of the four performers ‘was’ one of the instruments in the music. So effectively I deconstructed the fugue, gradually building it up again, until one can finally listen to this masterpiece, in its entirety. I was looking for ways of moving which can visualize the music but can also become a state of being for the performers. One potential danger was for movement to seem as ‘pantomime’ of the music, but we avoided this by using movements that became a state of reality for the performers which reflected their world and engaged their focus accordingly. This is the principle I used: this is the rule but this rule creates a life. I strongly believe that the


performer is not there to explain, but to experience and live in the work. Why did you choose this? It had already been there in my imagination, when listening to classical music and closing my eyes I would see shapes and colours moving in space (a bit like Disney’s Fantasia). The real question was how to create an appearance of the emotional world and performance of this music. If you think about a melody in shapes, it is all about small lines or segments which when composed altogether, create a harmony. Any emotion emerging from this melody comes from our interpretation attitude towards it. Diving into the source of this piece, our aim was to create/ translate Bach’s composition in bodies- a visual equivalent of the instruments on stage. Is questioning actually the process? I always start with a strict limitation. I feel that if I worked on what arises in the process of making, I would never manage to finish any piece. I remain loyal and firm to the limitation I set to myself. This limitation evolves, prompting all the materials that become the performance, unraveling things I would have never imagined also. ‘Elvedon’ was based on Virginia Woolf’s most experimental novel ‘The Waves’. I was inspired by this novel with no paragraphs, no chapters, a story of 6 people written like a waterfall as it proposed a specific rhythm. Central themes of Wolff’s text are the connection and relationship of man to nature and man’s existence within this ever changing, constantly and incessantly shifting world. I proposed a constant rhythm, similar to the ongoing drive of man, for this creation. The question was how to make something which goes on and on and never ever stops. I had no intention of discussing growing older, but about growing tired, fatigued, depleted. I proposed a limitation through which the constant and ongoing drive of the performers results in exhaustion, a real exhaustion in the performance.


In OPUS, each of the dancers move only when their respective instruments resonate, no extra movements were added. Bach’s ‘The art of fugue’ is attempting at communicating with the divine, while he wrote it shortly before he died. All of his music was about extending to the divine. We come closer to J.S. Bach and through his music we attempt at approaching the divine element. For me the divine, is nature, our world, our planet and the consciousness or transcendence of nature. It relates to the realization of how ‘little’ we really are. A few years ago, I was in Kenya for a month and half in the middle of the Savannah where lions passed right outside my tent at night. This is when it occurred to me: how little and expendable we all are, we ‘re nothing really… and it is so liberating to realize this. This thought uplifts me and offers the exaltation one seeks in connection to the divine. Do you want your question to become the audience’s question? Partly. It is important for me that the audience understands the limitations I set and the materials I work with. Afterwards I would want them to let go, become carried away by the work and forget about its structure. I believe that recognizing things allows people to release and open up more. Do you think audiences are looking for a message? Yes they do, this quest is a trap and it is our greatest enemy. Trying to understand actually limits the spectator’s potential of communication, it is a restraining experience and becomes very stressful. In both past works, I use repetition and long duration so that one has plenty of time to see over and over again, that which is happening on stage. This obsession and insistence of mine on the materials and the time the spectators are offered allows the audience to gradually become lured into the piece. I try to create the sense that something is progressively opening up. If the duration were shorter, if its parts were recognizably organized in scenes, the experience would be very different for the spectators. This generosity with time and long duration is what I propose and hope it works for the audience.


What does it mean to produce work? Production can be a headache. Creation is demanding and painful. I enjoy myself whilst I suffer, immersing myself into the process, almost detaching myself from reality. It is creative in all its complexity, both a dream and a nightmare. Both pieces were selffinanced and self-produced which was very difficult for me. Box office proceeds were just about enough to cover wages for the collaborators. Moreover, this lack of production funds means that I have to accommodate to performers’ schedules from other work they have (which pays their rent). I would like to have a studio, to afford to pay the dancers normal wages so that I can have a steady rehearsal schedule 12 to 6 daily, working smoothly. Do you start with research, how? I read a lot; I conduct my personal research, not with the dancers. For ‘Elvedon’ I would go to the mountains and stay there for a while in order to come closer to nature. My research is philosophical and personal, in order to consider all the facets of the limitation I choose and propose. Then comes the practice, a lot of work, entering the studio, working with the dancers. Are you interested in the individual? Yes, in a particular way. I am not interested in creating characters or personas, or using materials that declare particular personalities. By setting a very strict form applying to all the performers, allowing enough time, one begins to observe each performer carefully and their individual differences reveal themselves. This is what I am interested in. Do you have a specific method? Yes. Limitation. When living in Holland, I made a piece investigating how space can change in relationship to time. The element of time is always present in my work. In Plato’s Symposium Socrates mentions that we have innate ideas in our minds ‘remembered’ or forgotten at times. Both anamnesis and lethe of knowledge are within us. That which


cannot gain or loose anything is an absolute essence, which is the divine. I was thinking about how space transforms in relation to time. Imagine someone inside a room who is and has been only there. How would their imagination change the space in time? I investigated how space can change in the performer’s mind and whether it would transform in the spectators’ perception. The main principle of that work was: if I stand here, only observing how space changes, if I forget how to move, what would the body do when it tried to move again. The generosity of time, long duration is something that deeply moves me and is always present in my work. Do you consider yourself funny? Yes, lots but I have not used it in my work. Are you interested in text in your work? Not in my choreographic work. Maybe it is a possible next step, applying limitations both to body and voice. So it would not be working with text, but creating a ‘text’ by the use of voice within specific limitations proposed. Are you an artist? I am. Are you a good artist? I will say yes, since I ‘ve had the fortune- while watching one of my pieces- of feeling joy, as the finished work was very near to what I originally intended to make. In this regard, I have achieved something and I am very happy about it.


Do you like your work? I like it a lot. Do others like your work? I think yes. Are you happy with how you do things? No. How would you be happy? I would be happy if I could manage to handle creation with less stress. If this divine answer came to comfort me: Do not be afraid, the more you create, the less stressed you will become in the future. I am questioning whether this total absorption into creation is an egotistical thing. I would like to have the ability to allocate to my work, the appropriate space and proportion of myself. Are you teaching workshops? Not recently. I have taught workshops in the past in Crete, in Athens and also worked in schools. Currently I teach movement for actors at the Drama school Odion Athinon (dance technique, improvisation and composition principles). Are you using the principle of improvisation? Yes but not much. I use improvisations within the limitation proposed. I would never use free improvisation. Is your work set or improvised? My work is primarily set. In ‘Elvedon’ everything was totally set. In OPUS the first part -which focused on the rhythmical value of the fugue- is improvised within the specified limitations, containing certain landmarks.


Do you set precise goals? Do you have specific expectations? Yes. One expectation is to find the production funds necessary so that I can continue with my work more calmly and peacefully. Like many other colleagues, I wish to find someone to manage the technical and production parts so I don’t have to do all this myself. I would also like to promote the work I have created and try to present it as much as I can. Do you have a daily practice? I go running daily in nature, in the park close to where I live. What do you think about solos? The piece I aforementioned created in Holland was a solo for a 45year-old dancer. Do you perform in your work? I don’t dance in my work, I am not ready to be both creating and doing. When I enter the creative process I don’t want to be performing as well. Do you create scores? I create the structure and the composition. In both works (more prominent in OPUS) there is a lot of technical work involved in making it. How do you archive your work? I video it, I keep notes and also take pictures from the notebooks of the dancers, the way they note things down too. Do you believe in less is more? Yes! Absolutely despite the fact that a spectator recently saidenough with this minimalism...


Are you influenced by other art forms or sciences? From mathematics for sure. I will rarely look into another art form. I would look into dance studying videos of rituals, Sufis dance and traditional dances, anything that uses repetition in movement as a pathway to ecstasy. These can be an immediate source of inspiration in my work. I once was at a fiesta in Ikaria, after six hours of continuous dancing all the people there were in a specific state- this experience was one of my main questions in creating Elvedon. What appears when many people are dancing and pulsating together? How do you treat the body in your work? In my imagination and hopefully also in my work, I have no interest in the body as a dancer’s body. My desire is that the bodies you see onstage are bodies of people (and people are not dancers). Any movements that can be directly ascribed to ‘dance’ or dancers impersonating ‘people’ are not within my interests. I believe that dancers’ focus should not be the movement itself. I am trying to create the sense that whichever movement is happening in this body, it is or becomes a state of being. It happens in absentia, as the performer is focused on communication. Movement is a means of relating to space and the others. Maintaining this ‘extroversion’ is important to me, each dancer connecting to space, other dancers or spectators. Time? Yes! It is the most fundamental element in my work and also the underlying subject matter: how time affects performers and spectators. Space? The different tensions created are related to spacing: When the body or the gaze shift in space (looking at the other, the spectator, the space shared with the audience) there is an affect. The way the


space is perceived can also be modified through the performers’ imagination. The actual spacing of the performers or the shifts in their imagination can potentially enlarge or minimize the sensed space. My work is about trying to create and alter spaces. Lights? With lighting design, I try to create an atmosphere totally integrated to the choreography. The aim is for lighting changes is to neither be seen, perceived, nor observed by the spectators. Set? I don’t use set design, I am not interested in the stage as place. In my work, I can see only empty spaces and bodies. Ideally I like to create slight differences, unperceivable changes, which always seem invoked by the system of bodies, which are pivotal to all that happens. Set has a rather undermined dramaturgical role in my work. Costume? Costumes relate to the idea of dancers as people. In ‘Elvedon’ the choice of costume aimed at subtlety, you didn’t really notice them. It was important for me that the costumes did not suggest any specific attributes to the performers you were looking at. In OPUS the black costumes referred to musicians’ dress code as well as creating a similar environment to a musical score (black costumes on white floor). Do you feel you have sometimes failed? Many times. Daily. But I have not yet come to the conclusion- or absolute certainty- that I have failed completely. How has that affected you? In reading more, preparing myself more.


What do you wish for? My wish is that peace prevails in the world, so that this misery around us comes to an end. That we can come to terms -reconcile ourselves- with other people, the world around us, and the environment. Taking our lives a little less seriously. Do you consider your work Greek? No. I have undoubtedly been influenced by Greek art: the splendor of Greek art in which the idea transcends matter, when what is expressed exceeds the marble stone. This principle, you do not need to be Greek to appreciate. Another influence by Greek art, in my work, is the absence of emotion. I am happy I have been exposed to some great art. Is there a Greek dance scene? Do you recognise specific characteristics? I don’t know. I can identify something I don’t like. I don’t know if it is limited to the Greek dance scene, but after Pina Bausch and Dance Theater, text somehow became connected to dance. I see this ‘recipe’ repeated over and over again: a bit of dancing and a bit of talking. I feel that a great misunderstanding is propagated when a dance performance conjures theatrical dramaturgy (assuming a more linear narrative or a theatrical development shifting the ‘story’ forward) without adequate reference to the movement vocabulary used. I have not yet been able to discern recognizable characteristics of Greek dance but recently I have often seen dance pieces liberated from pluralism. On the whole, beyond personal taste of course, I sense that we are all getting rid of a lot of excess. More often now than in the past, I see choreographic works consistent with their subject, also on a dramaturgical perspective. There is more experimentation going on at the moment. Persistence on experimentation is important even if the work fails. When one’s intention is experimentation, it is very different to aiming at creating something beautiful. So, it is clear when compromises rendering the piece more accessible or likable to the audience, are


made. I am disconcerted with dance relying on visual elements (aesthetics). I feel that more dance makers have access to ‘high’ aesthetics in their works and the danger is that often the visual part is more important than the dance. Like a successful show admired because of its immaculate aesthetics instead of excellence in dance or choreographic terms. So why does company, why do companies such as yours matter? Why does your work matter? The company co-founded with Amalia Bennett is called ‘Leon ke Lykos’. We created two pieces (one each), presenting them at Porta theatre. My piece was based on Virginia Wolff (wolf=lykos) and Amalia’s on Leon Tolstoy (leon= lion). So, this company matters because we live in this world: within this exhausting socio-economic situation and still artists want to and create work. With minimal financial means, they stand for what they want to do, with much faith, and this is valuable for our society, today. The artistic product is important to me but the group is essential. I like group work; it is wonderful, being together in this. It is also important for the spectators, this effort we put into the work, in order to release the struggle of ‘understanding’ meaning or message in dance. I propose another way- letting goasking spectators to become active, creative and imaginative. It is really important to be able to do this, in the present moment. 2016


Steriani Tzintziloni & Betina Panagiotara On writing #Act I ‘Dear Blank Page’ I come here to you driven Driven by the urge to write An urge I do not wholly understand An urge that gets me out of bed while others sleep An urge that makes me seek you in the dark. Your whiteness was perfect, so was your form Before I wrote on you the first word. Now you have lost your purity You have lost the possibility of becoming Poetry or prose, an essay or a report So many other things than what you have become. Mars, V., 2015 What follows is just an introduction; a first act to a discussion that keep us going, that motivate us to go on talking, reaching out, writing words on paper, agreeing and disagreeing, coming together, writing alone. These are our first endeavors to write down on paper the questions and answers that guide our thoughts and our collaboration. It is a beginning that strives for an end but wishes never to reach it. – Why do you write about dance? Is it your own need or a need to make others understand what you think about dance? Maybe, it is a need rising from dance in an effort to transcend its own boundaries? Is it a profession, a way of living and surviving or is it rather part of an established media discourse attached to power? – Why do you write about dance? I write so as to understand, to link things and thoughts together, to connect, communicate, embrace, agree and disagree. I write about dance because these written words transform and create another reality coming out of what is already there. Because these words can offer a translation from one medium to another, to a different reality. I am writing for the pleasure and the challenge of it.


I am writing to open up a dialogue. The question is: Who am I talking with? – The audience of the dialogue, the recipients of the messages/gifts, the readers/listeners/viewers/witnesses of such public act may be of any nationality, despite the problem of the language. Maybe we want them to be of any nationality. But this fact does not answer to the question of the dialogue as conversation. Conversation needs at least two people to be involved in the dialogue…and it presupposes an exchange of viewpoints, a meeting ground for different suggestions. Are our text open to multiple possibilities or our effort for making a convincing argument lead us to a hermetically sealed intellectuality? – I think that we want our text to operate as an invitation to dialogue but it can only become a dialogue or a conversation when someone else decides to read, think, agree or disagree with it. This process sometime takes time. However, if we name those operations open or close then we lack the proper tools for defining what can be open and what can be close. Maybe, what is we are looking for, so as to return to our first question, is why do we write and what is it that we wish for when we send an invitation out to the world talking about dance as a product of circumstances, among other things. – You are right, I totally agree. I did not mean to call the text open or close, I did not mean not to think about it as an invitation, I did not mean anything else but…This slippery character of language! This silence of voices transformed into written letters, always play multiple games with meanings. But let’s start again: Why do we write in the first place? I think I write because I want to approach dance from multiple perspectives. I want to think. Feel, see, reflect, engage, detach, reject using my body, my mind, my senses in all possible ways. And then? Yes, then I think it’s important to open this to the world. As an invitation and an act. As the hand of a friend offering a present, but also as the hand of a person offering a public action. – Exactly. Writing about dance in a public platform creates a shift from stage to page initiating a secondary dialogue (after the


artistic one on stage) that re-contextualises, relates, constructs or deconstructs, affects and contributes to the work of art, to the art, the artist and everyone else that picks up those words and silently reconfigures them. In this process, the intention of the writing is of major importance. If we have already agreed it is an invitation what is it inviting you to do? Words, language can be a vehicle of many things and quite a powerful one, so what kind of discourse do our texts create or re-create for dance? Or to rephrase what kind of discourse would we like to open up by writing? One that invites reconsideration, that considers doubt, that relates dance to other art forms, that links the aesthetic to the sociopolitical and wonders where that can take us. A discourse that is active, selfreflexive, posing questions and acting as a platform for coming together around dance, around words, around a community or potentially building a community of people. What about that? Can discourse become the vehicle of another social imaginary or am I daydreaming here? – Yes, I think all and each one of that. Without claiming that a text on dance can achieve everything, I think that a text on dance can do a lot. And for that reason it has power. So it bears the weight of responsibility, even ethics. How power can be implicated within the words? How words can activate imaginary? Poets and writers can greatly contribute to that but here we are talking about us. So, I suppose the link between the words themselves and the context is pivotal for the operation of a dance text. Take this dialogue as example. If you put it in within a journalist context it does not make sense at all. Here, within a context of thinking, writing and reflecting on the possible links between stage and page, it makes perfect sense. Yes, but what about the intention of the author, the selection of language, the possible readers, the dance-works themselves and many many more questions? How can we take into account all these factors? Do we want to? Is it possible? Whatever answer one might give, immediately sets him/herself to a certain position of operation within the possibilities of the field. In other words, even the no-words have a particular point to make. I think we’ve made a full circle. If you think the issue of power in the void of the words and the potential to provide a platform of social imaginary through a


dance text, then we arrive at the point where the two form the two sides of the same coin come together. And that coin is our human ability to act. Dear reader, every text can be an opening, a beginning. Like the questions we posed here they may be triggers for thinking, writing and positioning oneself within a context. It is a process, a method and a technology for describing, analysing, and framing. Writing is an act of positioning within an ever shifting context. Let the journey begin!

Mars, V., Dear Blank Page, 2015, http://vincentmars.com/2015/11/08/dear-blank-page/


Part II Update

Volume 1 Update A follow up of artists interviewed in Volume 1, which functions as an update on their projects since the previous interview and also poses questions about the Greek Dance Scene its evolution or changes in the field. This practice will continue on the forthcoming editions.


CONTENTS Kostas Tsioukas


Mariela Nestora


Stefanie Tsakona


Elpida Orfanidou


Olia Lidaki


Tzeni Argiriou


Katerina Skiada


Maria Koliopoulou


Iris Karayan


Medie Megas


Sofia Mavragani


Maxine Heppner



Kostas Tsioukas update What has happened since the last interview? I moved to Vienna for a while, working with Claudia Bosse on the creation “What about catastrophes?” presented at Tanzquartier Wien. The work with Claudia was very interesting research on movement, texts and voice. Her work is political and connected to the socio-political context. She was also interested and worked on the Sufi whirling dances, connecting these to current political systems spinning and collapsing. I collaborated with ‘Space Caviar’ architects form Genova, creating a piece for robots in the Design Biennale of Kortrijk, Belgium. I worked with a programmer creating a waltz for vaccum cleaner robots. We deconstructed the waltz rhythm for robot movements. I also did a residency of my own at Impulsetanz festival, ‘Astral Dances’. I collaborated with a landscape architect in creating a two dimensional representation of our solar system. I was the performer moving from earth’s crust towards the sun visiting and interacting with each planet on the way. I also presented at Green Park occupied space in Athens “The diaries of Nijinsky” a collaboration with performer and singer Mary Tsoni. One thing that has changed over the past few years is that I feel my sense of humour is gradually exhausting itself and this is due to the current socio-political and economic conditions. Humour was a major characteristic of my work while now I feel my reservoir depleting. At the moment I am working on a collaboration with film maker Yorgos Efthimiou and poet Dimitra Aggelou, on the improvised piece “ I woke up this morning and my nails were cut off”. All three of us are present on stage using poems by Nijinsky and by Dimitra,


movement, speech and actions- creating a very special atmosphere. I also continue my work on a collection of dances I have been making: the irrational dance, the separation dance etc. each of which has specific qualities, characteristics and function. I am acting like a machine producing new dances and want to continue with this work. I am still pondering on post-colonial concerns I ‘ve had in the past: how do the ‘bigger’ cultures like the American or European affect us here? How is a Rihanna pop song ‘returned’ from a Greek performer? Is it a misrepresentation, a parody or retaliation? I use body and movement enriched with voice, singing and choreographies, demonstrating our external influences by the American and European cultures, like a body that passively accepts these ‘foreign’ cultures as a victim, adrift of these influences. Rising from these ashes is a dynamic, bastardized Greek identity, which wins over and eats up their impact. For example, using Greek music on a Mary Wigman’s ‘Witch Dance’ offers a mirror image- a reflection produced from this side. In all honesty, we have been accustomed at seeing mirror images/reflections of prevailing cultures here. I am interested in producing equivocally reflections of the weaker cultures, in a postcolonial society, in order to dance and exorcise (in an almost pagan manner) these numerous influences. The victim and the passive absorption of ideas, becomes aggressor and regurgitates the information intake, creating a new identity which is not afraid to be influenced and dares to react and rebound. Another interest of mine is clarifying the notion of performance and its relationship to dance. I investigate the subtle differences between a performance, a simple movement improvisation, a choreography. Performance is not relating to theatricality or representation, it is experiential and is sometimes connected to a challenge or long duration, while rehearsals are not required. Can dance be a performance in this sense? Improvisations are different each time but follow their own rules and are sometimes representational. These differences are blurry in the spectators’ minds and the use of the word performance is rather confused or misused.


Do you consider your work Greek? Since it is created and produced in Greece it is. More so if it is created by myself who is Greek it is. I consider this deterministic in a positive sense. I am happy to be a part of a Greek community of dance who is active, like recently when we performed at DansFabrik in Brest with Collective Choreography Project Untitled #1 part of Focus Athenes. We were identified as Greek and it was nice. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? There is a Greek dance scene (want it or not) since there are choreographers here creating and producing works. I know most of the choreographers’ work and I can recognise them so I cannot easily step back and identify common characteristics or identity. I think it is best for someone else to do this identification, someone less related and more objective. As far as I can see, it is varied and the works are very different to each other.


Mariela Nestora update

What has happened since the last interview? A lot has changed since then. Overall it has been a time of collaborations, open calls, experimentations, theory and practice meetings, collectives and also of performing again myself. In the last interview I was about to start working on the project ‘Exactly what I wanted minus one’ based on Stravisky’s Rite of Spring. This project was developed during a residency in Berlin for 3 dancers and presented there. Then I continued working on it through open calls for 4 different presentations at the Athens Biennale, AB3 MONODROME. This was a difficult time of no funding and few opportunities for creating/participating in dance works. I felt that working through open calls was a way to keep on working both for choreographers and performers, despite the extremely short duration of the projects and the absence of artists fees for anyone involved. Other projects created in this way were «Silent world» at B&M Theocharakis Foundation Museum and more recently «I was born old» responding to a provocation of Lisa Alexander ‘Love letters to a Post-Europe’. In this piece 2 mezzo sopranos, 1 actress and 27 dancers came together, for the love letter of Greece to Europe written on the day of the Greek bailout referendum. After meeting through this project, some of the performers of this group continued working together in «Maybe by tomorrow I won’t remeber how I felt today» based on the history of Europe. I participated in several collectives, at Embros theatre (reactivation), Kolektiva Omonia (Where are we now? festival at Embros), Green Park (activation and several projects), Syndesmos Chorou (‘On the road’ promenade at Kalamata International Dance festival and several 7+1 community projects). I also initiated the collective choreography project CCP, a project of 2 different series Untitled and Entitled. In the Untitled series, 5 choreographers worked with a protocol for co-choreographing a solo for each one (Untitled #1, #2, #3, #4). In the Entitled series 4 choreographers and one designer co-created a solo on a specific


subject (Umidita). These works presented mostly in independent or self organised space in Athens, Crete, London, Berlin and also in Brest at DanseFabrik Festival as part of ‘Iris, Alexandra, Mariela, Katerina et moi.’ a focus on contemporary female choreographic production in Athens by invited curator Lenio Kaklea. I also experiemented with text based work, responding to ‘page 31 theatre festival’ at CAMP: an invitation for performances based on texts which are on page 31 as the title suggests. I worked with different groups of actors and dancers on ’The Apocalypse’ by St.John, ‘Notes from the Underground’ by F. Dostoyevsky and ‘Blindspot’ by J. Mavritsakis. I continued this kind of text-based work with actors and dancers in ‘Nature Morte’ based on the poem by W. Shakespeare ‘The Phoenix and the turtle’. The biggest change for me was that I returned to performing something which I had not done in many years. It started with ‘AM I’ a piece for 2 people dancing and 2 people speaking about what they see, which was presented with different artists in very different contexts from Embros self organised theatre to Kalamata International Dance festival. In collaboration with Louizos Aslanidis (long time collaborator of YELP danceco.) the videodance «Later perhaps I will do something else’ was created. In collaboration with Delphine Jonas (FR) I performed in «How to survive in a hostile temperate environment’. Responding to an invitation by the fictional Libby Sacer Foundation for the exhibition ‘Ghost songs’ at Cheap art gallery I created ‘C7’ a solo performance with plants which has been developing ever since. It has been presented in galleries, museums, festivals and it still keeps on growing. This was also a time of working with the public space. I performed in collaboration with visual artist Emilia Papafilippou in her installation ‘Pulsating fields’ at the Ancient Forum. In collaboration with Slovenian collective Federacija Deluje we performed at Kotzia Square. I created a promenade from the National Library to Omonia Square ‘Two steps further down’ as part of the Athens Biennale AB5 Omonoia and also created and performed in ’20 pencils’ a durational performance at Arsaki Arcade invited by Removement.


With YELP danceco. we performed some previous works in other venues or cities and created only one new work ‘‘Tis this, no other but this’ presented at the Athens Festival 2016. This piece was developed over several months, including presentations of it while in progress, with a team of 9 people, of long term and new collaborators of YELP. Finally in my interest of connecting theory and practice I collaborated with Dr. Betina Panagiotara in the conference ‘Cut and Paste: Dance advocacy in the age of austerity’, Athens and continued with this collaboration, in addition to Dr. Steriani Tzintziloni in ‘Here and Now’ performance lecture, at Tanz Kongress in Hannover. Do you consider your work Greek? I don’t know how to respond to this question since I don’t know what ‘Greek’ work looks like. I guess that living in Athens is a major influence in the way I live my everyday life and determines partially what I am exposed to. Maybe some of this ends up in my work. As an artist I try to respond to my environment, to peoples needs, to the dance field’s desires, flaws, disadvantages and inadequacies in different ways. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? For sure there is a Greek dance scene since there are many choreographers and dance artists working and creating work here, even if there is no way of summing it up yet. Despite my interest in discovering similarities or trends, so far, in all of our discussions within the dance community, the only common characteristic we have discovered, is that there are no common characteristics. For now, I am happy to ‘belong’ to a dance scene with fluid identity and happy to be part of a community based on differences rather than similarities. At the same time I am curious yet optimistic about the evolution and development of this ‘greek’ dance scene. March 2108


Stefanie Tsakona update What has changed since the last interview? Since October 2013, my life has changed completely. I have stopped choreographing and I am now writting and directing plays. I wrote a children’s play ‘The magic history of books’. It deals with the history of books from the first findings (the first ever books were clay slates in cuneiform writting in Mesopotamia) and up to e-books. I also directed it and and now I am preparing another one, but this time not for children. I have also become a DJ for obvious financial reasons. I am quite pessimistic regarding dance in Greece. I have lost my passion for it, I still teach dance but mostly professionals. I no longer teach amateurs, I grew tired of teaching people who don’t have a specific goal hence don’t sufficiently concentrate on this work. Do you consider your work Greek? I am half Greek, half German but because I grew up in Greece I consider myself Greek. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? I believe that the language of dance is international. Of course, it could be that the subject is related to Greece somehow-for example the piece I did based on Tsamikos (traditional, popular folk Greek dance) which was part of a trilogy titled ‘Peri Psyches’ (On the soul, just like the treatise by Aristotle). While this particular piece was called «Euthymia» (happiness, good humour), another piece ‘Ideograms’ (litterally meaning ideas in letters) started off as a performance and then became a dance piece: this piece dealt with the December 20008 athens riots (after Grigoropoulos was shot by a policeman) and I also used popular music by Mitropanos. These works are Greek , with Greek characteristics or starting points, but I believe that it is only through content that you can say something is Greek, otherwise dance is international.


Elpida Orfanidou update What has changed since the last interview? In October 2013, an event changed my personal life and my work. My mother was ill and I returned to Greece to be close to her. During this time I did not do anything profesionally. Three months later she passed away and something changed in me: I wanted to spend more time in Greece, although there was nothing much going on professionally for me here. It also changed how I want to work and how I want to be with the people I work. I changed my priorities and the relationship with people who fund or produce projects, I stopped endlessly sending applications, I started writting in a more direct way instead of writing what would be ‘liked’ or accepted. I chose to spend less effort in trying to be ‘interesting’ and just speak my mind concisely and briefly. I also started to think of projects-on the fringes of artistic work-which don’t necessarily become products. As a person, I like doing things in a scattered, and chaotic way, and I decided to accept this and go with it. I thought that this trait of mine, this way could become my new method. Instead of spending the usual condensed and focused time in the studio intensely creating material for two consecutive months, I decided to create a space in my house and work for two hours everyday, on whatever interests me. In this way my work gradually became part of my everyday life, rather than an exception of a really intense period - as it usually happens during residencies (working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day). This new way of working is how I want to develop my solo work. As far as collaborations go, something has changed already, as we were lead effortlessly into a new ambience, a new way of working, very different from production driven rehearsals. This happened on its own and evolved naturally. In 2013 I created ‘Elpid’arc’ and then I started working on a project ‘(To) Come and See’ with Simone Truong, with whom we also studied together. We continue with this project as group work. Simone Truong (the initiator) would go to each performer’s city and work with each person individually. Then, we all met (Eilit Marom, Anna Massoni and myself) and worked together towards the creation of a group piece. Simone is based in Zurich and she chose to work with four women. She worked individually for 3 weeks in each city (Paris,


Athens, Lausanne, Israel/Amsterdam, Zurich) and finally we will meet to work for 2,5 months all together. It is a collective project dealing with eroticism, but in the sense of the un-canning or mysterious and it is an all female project. I also worked on another project organized similarly. A Singapore artist had the idea to invite 5 choreographers from the countries of crisis- Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland for a project titled ‘PIIGS 2014’. We were asked to create something in which we present ourselves, and our artistic approach in relation to our country. During this research, I realized that I have a lot of Greek elements in me… So since the project’s idea came from the crisis, instead of representing something, I decided to create a crisis within the project (a crisis of who is who, of where are we going etc.). This ‘crisis’ I created, came from my own personal interest in creating chaotic situations, in which the only order is disorder. I found that this expresses me on a personal level, and can also be connected to Greece’s current situation. In my view, there is a positive side to a crisis: it can potentially help you begin a process of reconsidering who you are, of what your role/ your part is in all this and to engage in constructive criticism. Moreover, if you feel you are missing a specific frame or rules, you embark in clarifying or define these. I find all these very interesting. Another change of the past two years is the ongoing project of my own work on myself, in which I want to include my pharmacy studies somehow. So this summer, I worked at a pharmacy for the first time. I now spend a lot of time in Greece. Do you consider your work Greek? Although it is not Greek, it is Greek- in the sense that I like freedom and Greeks like being free too. Greeks don’t like to be placed in a rigid frame, while at the same time they wish it too, they go from one extreme to the another-there is definitely a paradox there. These are elements that express the way I feel too: my relationship to chaos and revolution, my tendency to be reactive, the will to resist to established norms and the desire to change them. On the social front during the recent years, there hasn’t been ‘enough’ reaction in Greece- considering what has


been going on. When/how did the Modern Greek mentality form? That is the question…. During the PIIGS 2014 project, we collaborated with a Serbian dramaturge Igor Dobričić , and during his feedback to what I created, he mentioned he felt really connected to the Greek element of resourcefulness, of improvising solutions to any problem. Greeks do have this creativity possibly because the state is not there to support you or assist you. You have to become competent since you are on your own- so you improvise and come up with solutions- it is a very interesting characteristic. It comes from Mitida, one the female titans. In Greek mythology, Metis was one of the Titans- female- one could say ‘Titaness’. She was older than Greek gods. She was the first one that Zeus took as a spouse because she was holding in her hands the most important skill the one that combine cunning and wisdom. Later on Metis became more general expression used to signify particular ability to improvise solution to a problem; elegantly and with immediate intuitive mastery of the situation. Athenians were proud that have a lot of Metis. Closest modern translation in English would be characterisation of somebody being "crafty". In classical literature this expression was often attached to Odysseus and furthermore to Athenians - like in crafty Odysseus, crafty Athenians. But the word crafty is a pure substitute for a complex, profound etymology of the term Metis...

Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? I have not seen enough, but I do have an impression that there is a particular focus on intense physicality. I think there is alot of interest from abroad at the moment, focusing on greece, but I don’t think there is any particular style characterised as Greek ( as there is for cinema – Greek weird cinema). I don’t think there is something connecting all the choreogrpahers’ work, although I should see more in order to be precise. It seems to me, that particular importance is given to technique and to emotional expressiveness or theatricality (maybe this comes from our culture of ancient drama). Saying that, in cinema which I mentioned before, expression is very different. Using Greek music,


or songs and traditional dances, are direct links to Greekness, but in order to create a Greek dance scene you need more than content. Developing a sense of a scene, is much more than ‘I was inspired by this or that ancient tragedy’, a potential Greek style would be unrelated to content. Representing something Greek and being Greek are two very differnt things, which was my revelation during the ‘PIIGS 2014’ project. I am not a fan of representation anyway, so that is why I decided to investigate the Greek way of things, without representing anything. I think it would be really interesting, if a Greek style developed out of the Greek way of things. In this country there has always been a lot(if not too much) activity: ports, ships, commerce, the east /west dilemma, crises- it is a harsh everyday life to live but it gives you plenty of motivation and materials in order to create.


Olia Lidaki update What has changed since the last interview? I have become more conscious of the connections between the things I do instead of being lead by my unconscious or by free associations. Art does connect to life and I am recently attending to the choices I make -both in my life and in my work. I have attained a more conscious way of being and of understanding my choices. Since our last interview I changed where I live. I am now based in Iraklion Crete and I teach and work with amateurs, people who see dance as their hobby. There is no professional dance scene here in Iraklion: amateurs get together to make dance works and some form dance groups. Since the only available shows here are these amateur dance-group performances, the notion that “this is what contemporary dance is” -is gradually establishing itself in the audience’s perception in Iraklion. But these works are very different from professional dancers’ and choreographers’ works. I feel that there are misconceptions shaped and propagated, regarding the differences between amateur and professional work. I also feel like it is my duty to clarify these differences- between making art, being part of a collective, making a dance piece or just performing in public. The sole activity of making and performing does not make one a professional dancer, after-all. Making art or dance is a specific standpoint, also connected to specific choices and education. I am often invited to participate in collectives that also involve dance. Quite a few of the emerging amateur dance companies are also activist bodies. Personally, I don’t feel the need for art to be explicitly political and connected to current political turmoil. I try to find a balance between inclusion and safeguarding my position as a professional dancer. Within the activist actions involving the amateur dance groups, I feel there is further reinforcement of misconceptions and confusion in people’s minds about what dance is. It seems that at the moment, the prevalent notion of “everybody is an artist’- ultimately leads to issues of recognition or depreciation for the value of professional artistic work.


Do you consider your work Greek? I guess it is bound to be Greek since I was born here and I live in Greece again after many years in France. At the same time, I like to consider my work and myself beyond nationality. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? Of course there is a Greek dance scene- as long as dance has been here and it is evident historically. Considering characteristics, I could say that a few years ago there were more dance-theatre works being made (Papaioannou, Rigos) while now there are more works with intense physicality (possibly due to Josef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea who as dance teachers pass on other influences to students). I feel that performativity and expressiveness is inadequate in recent works. There is no weight given to performance (by weight I mean depth)- as if performers no longer delve into different ways of ‘existing’ onstage. It seems to me that there is a bias towards what is impressive in dancing as opposed to simple, deep, essential and moving dance. Maybe audiences prefer strong images and intense physicality at the moment? Of course, there are exceptions (other kinds of works) shifting the dance landscape- these artists constitute my favoured Greek dance scene. At the same time, I believe that art has no nationality- it is universal. Even the notion of national characteristics- within the current European political context- evokes negative resonances in me. My aforementioned preferences apply also to the more established Belgian dance scene, which already has readily recognizable characteristics. I prefer simple works, with a sense of humour. From what I have seen so far, Greek dance pieces illustrating their national or cultural identity, seemed crude and unrefined to me. I believe that the younger generation of dance audiences anticipates works open to multiple readings, works liberated from our national identity and culture rather than bound to it - works which are not restricted by their nationality- both in expression and perception.


Tzeni Argiriou update What has happened since the last interview? One major change began in 2012 when I started working with Greek history archives: recent events like the Greek civil war and second world war. A friend gave to me these archive materials­ photographs and press clippings from 1895­1975. It was a vast archive, covering major historical events plus the Junta: photographs of conflicts, wars and pivotal historical events but also of social gatherings, family celebrations, feasts, carnivals etc. Working on this material I created ‘Memoria Obscura’, using photographs from the city of Grevena only. The piece was presented with the occasion of 100 years from the Turks/Ottoman Empire, in October 2012. ‘Memoria Obscura’ premiered there and has been presented at Kavala Municipal theatre, at Vyrsodepsio theatre-during IETM meeting Athens and at Dimitria Festival in Thessaloniki. The archives primarily determined the themes I dealt with. The question was how to handle the photographic archive so that the images do not predominate, how to sustain the dialogue between the performer and the image materials historically, artistically and visually. Many questions emanated: How do younger generations connect with and relate to archival events? How are we influenced by our history? When I started looking into these archives, I realized I didn’t remember many of these events. I wondered whether we were taught this history at school. Maybe we did and I just don’t remember? What struck me was that these historic events were not too far back in time. I thought we are somehow influenced by these events, but we are not conscious their affect. How can we deal with crises (like the one we are going through now) if we have not studied and read about our history? How can we learn from our past? Can it help us think better when confronting corresponding events? I started by conducting interviews of the people who were in these photographs and still alive which lead me to the subject of


memory. In these interviews I noticed that there were contradicting statements: what people actually remember, portrayal of other people, different versions of stories passed on. I became interested in how memory functions inquiring whether we actually remember only what we want to remember... Many interesting themes emerged during this research, which I decided to extend into the next creation ‘Memorandum’. A word used a lot lately, as financial term synonymous to debt, while etymologically means ‘this that we should not forget’. A word confined to its economic terminology, as if the only thing not to forget is what we owe and how to pay it back. ‘Memorandum’, despite connections to current Greek affairs, was created on the subject of memory in its global sense. It is not limited to local references, but also to pivotal historic events of the last 30 years (bombings, Arabic spring etc.) ‘Memorandum’ is a co­production with organizations and artists from abroad: France, Germany, Portugal (Bernardines theater in Marseille, tanzhaus neu in Dusseldorf and o espace do tempo in Montemor ­ o ­Novo) and my company ‘amorphy’ in Athens. Memorandum performance was initiated in the frame of the anniversary of Grevena’s liberation Triangle European Laboratory of artistic research residency. I looked into the other cities’ archives too. I collaborated with a dramaturge, who helped me a lot with the scientific research on how memory works: this incorporates the collection of autobiographical events and past personal experiences (episodic memory), the conscious recollection of factual information (semantic memory) and the habitual and every day tasks often residing below the level of conscious awareness (procedural memory). The action on stage represents these three types of memory. It was the first time that I worked so closely with a dramaturge. I found out that any event could potentially trigger a memory: movement, visual, sound, smell (for instance a woman peeled an orange which triggered a memory from WWII during the occupation). I decided to work with all the senses. Vassilis Gerodimos created an installation in the space with support pipes. This construction created sound (had chords attached), had projection surfaces hang on to it: the set became a


memory instrument. The audience participated in the remembering process, through a scene in which we ask the spectators questions about themselves and their memories. The collaboration with fine artist Vassilis Gerodimos began from the very first rehearsal. He was developing the installation, as the choreography was being created. He didn’t create something as a response to a rehearsal he saw, but we all started working together from scratch. During our research, an interesting material that emerged was the use of shadow. This started already in ‘Memoria Obscura’­ the projector light beam creates a shadow of the performer, which was used as an element of the work. In ‘Memorandum’ I developed the use of shadow, so that it became independent to the performer. I filmed the performers’ shadows and projected them. The shadow became autonomous, like one more ‘performer’ of independent movement material and dramaturgical development in the work. The performer’s shadow would be moving when the performer was still or performing different movements to the performers moves. It was as if the shadow could express more than the actual performer’s body seen live. ‘Memorandum’ was presented at Marseille, Dusseldorf and at the Athens Festival. I wish to further develop my work with archives. I am interested in how archives can become part of an artistic or choreographic work and how to connect a choreographic work with historical and political content. Is it possible for a choreographic work to review history? Surely, there is not one truth. Can an artistic/choreographic work review or reconsider recent history? During these past years, part of my research for ‘Memorandum’ was working with non­professional dancers: volunteers, amateurs or spectators. This took place in Naxos, Marseille and Kavala. I was working on the ‘questions to the audience’ scene ­ I looked for ways to immediately place the spectator in a process of remembering and how to incorporate this scene in the work. The experience of working with amateurs really changed how I see my work. Similarly to my experience of working with nonprofessionals in community projects we run with Syndesmos Chorou.


I have recently started working on ideas concerning different media/ installations working more like a visual artist, rather than as a choreographer primarily addressing the body. At the same time I wish to exclude the other media from works with the body. I may revisit past choreography works without the media I originally used. It is a desire to go back into working in the studio, working on a clear format of body-based work without the technical difficulties and complexities. After working for 10 years with media, I feel I now can go back to working purely with the body. I can appreciate it differently now­ the body as a live archive, a vehicle of its own history. As an artist, I want to find how the works we make­ of personal, social and artistic value­ live for longer. I am addressing the continuity issue­ it is devastating for artists to create works that are only presented 2­3 times. I am not sure I will find a way to do this, but I know for sure that I cannot sustain creating and putting all this work and effort into pieces presented so little. If promoting my work in living longer within the market system fails, I am thinking of working on how to archive artists’ works (something I have been interested in for a long time, already). I was also part of ‘Ừ­Apartments’­ organized and produced by Onassis Cultural Foundation­ a project in which artists created 10 minute pieces for apartments in the certain areas of Athens. I was allocated the oldest, uninhabited and abandoned building. I engaged with research of the history of the building and its inhabitants, re­entering the subject of memory. I worked on elements from the architectural plans, testimonials from neighbors and a poetic viewpoint of imagining what happened there, what kind of life would exist there today. So, these past years I found a way to manage visual archives for stage works, devised a technique (used in both works) projecting large images in space. Within the projector’s shaft of light in the space, you raise smaller surfaces that reveal fractions of the photograph projected (only a face, a hand, a body). You never see the whole image, but only parts of it on different surfaces. It is like revealing pieces of a puzzle just like the pieces of memory one


needs to reassemble in order to understand what actually happened. I also became a mother of a little girl, which changed my life totally. One cannot separate/isolate personal life from artistic life, as they are both affected by this great event, maybe this is why I chose to mention this last. Do you consider your work Greek? I believe that in my being there is a lot of Greek-ness. I have travelled a lot and lived abroad so other areas in me have opened up as well. I find that once you lived (and survived) abroad as a foreigner, you gain a sense of power and strength. Moreover you experience different perspectives and all this is recorded in you. I am a Greek woman and I maintain the Greek elements in me ( at least the ones I subjectively consider Greek). I would be very happy if one would identify my work as Greek work upon seeing it, especially if the work is not traditional or relating only to a Greek audience. I would like my work to be considered Greek since it comes from a maker who lives this country and its relative context. I believe that if artists only expressed generic things without being specific and personal (defining specific points of view or relating context) then art would be ordinary and boring. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognize specific characteristics? I don’ t follow closely what is happening in the dance scene, at the moment. Before becoming a mother, I would see as many shows as I could fit in my schedule. I see very few works now, hence I don’t feel I can accurately respond to this question. I believe that Greek dancers have something very strong in their presence. When I see shows abroad, my eyes would always fall onto the Greek dancer and their body in the group, I can somehow identify them. They are strong both in technique and in performance. Regarding choreography and the works we make, I don’t know if there is something in common or something identifiable.


There is Greek dance scene, of course and we sense an increasingly intense need for it lately. Even if it hasn’t made a mark yet, it soon will: this is our common element for now. We are not all making political art, as is sometimes regarded. Sociopolitical context influences all makers, as anything one creates is bound to be somehow related to how one lives.


Katerina Skiada update What has happened since the last interview? Regarding creation both in terms of choreography and performance, we have been mainly expanding our research on “Twisted Pair” a piece created with Yiannis Mandafounis in 20134. This piece was the beginning of a research field I have been implementing in choreographic workshops too. For each workshop, on its idea or theme, I apply and investigate the boundaries of this research field: how the body behaves while talking. I include this principle to different choreographic ideas, creating a dialogue or juxtaposition with each one. The performer moves and talks at the same time, their lips move but we don’t hear their voice (maybe in the future I will work with audible text). The text is different each time, supporting each choreographic idea. I am interested in the space opening up between the spectator, the performance and its ‘reading’. Contemporary dance is often an abstract open form and when the performer’s ‘speaking’ is somehow specific or explicit , thus creating expectations or assumptions of another reading or understanding of the work. The performer becomes ‘specifically abstract’, addressing the spectator directly, offering another key of relating to the work. “Twisted pair” has been performed in Geneva, Paris, Syros, Corfu will be presented in Athens in June and hopefully upon confirmation will tour in Brazil. I also lead workshops in public space. I am interested in choreographing a city, a community, dancers together with nondancers, choreographing everyday life with hints of subversion. I am interested in creating events that are either in harmony (offering a poetic perspective to what is already happening there) either subversive to that particular public space. The aim is to alter the viewers’ perspective of the urban landscape. These public space workshops are a way for me to continue with my research despite the current lack of funding for creating and producing new works. At the moment we seem to apply our choreographic ideas wherever we can.


Do you consider your work Greek? Is there such a thing, Greek work? In my case because I always collaborate with other people, so the works develop and are filtered through my collaborators’ perspectives. In this sense, I guess my work is sometimes Swiss, sometimes Spanish, sometimes Greek or a mix of these. I suppose that how one prefers to consider their own work depends on the maker. Moreover language, or shared communication codes are present between people of similar backgrounds. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? In the past, there were more common characteristics between Greek choreographrers’works: there were elements of tragedy and influences by Papaioannou’s and Rigos’ work on other makers. The younger generation of choreographers has studied and traveleld abroad much more and hence they have multipe influences. Their works are very different to each other. At the moment I can see more similarities between certain Greek companies and dance companies from other countries. I assume it connects to more Greek dancers’ employement with companies abroad, absorbing different influences. It then depends on how you digest these influences. For example Yiannis despite the fact that he worked for the Forsythe company (a major influence in his work), he is looking for and is developing his own choreographic language. He has avoided this trap because his research is not only focused on form and structure, but on content, primarily. In the past one would see works by Greek makers that were just like Belgian dance for example. I suppose there is some interest in borrowing someone else’s field of research and applying it to your own but you need to be dealing with essence and not only form. This applies mainly to choreographers since for dancers, it is always interesting to train their bodies in multiple forms and techniques.


Maria Koliopoulou update What changed since our last interview? During the last interview, we talked about “mneme – [action] 21” co – produced and premiered at Onassis cultural Centre. We then presented it in Vienna and Algiers, where we won the 2nd prize of choreography at the Festival Culturel International de la Danse Contemporaine, Algiers 2013. Since then, there have been a lot of changes especially regarding production. In fact this was the last big production I did. It was during this time that the Greek Ministry of Culture stopped the funding for dance. I tried to find alternative ways in order to continue working. So the next piece was a co-production of Austria and Algiers, since it was invited by two festivals – Tanzkosmos Festival in Kosmostheater (Vienna 2014) and Festival Culturel International de la Danse Contemporaine, (Algiers 2014) these made the production ”A room of her own – [action] 34″ possible. This is a solo for Ioanna Paraskevopoulou, which has not yet been presented in Greece. The title is inspired from a Virginia Wolf novel: “A room of one’s own”, a rather feminist novel for its time, which was our starting point for this piece. Over the past years I have been creating work solely for female performers- discussing the female body in various ways. I would like to continue working on this solo and make it even more personal. The subject of this work is the female body, againwhat the body carries, according to the place you live, the historical narratives of your origins. I started by asking questions – whether one is defined by their place of birth, what kind of (collective) memories /stories/ narratives we carry from our origins, what myths we embody. In fact, it continues with the investigation from the previous work, while becoming more and more personal. I also used set design for both: in “mneme – [action] 21” the floor was laid with corn kernels, while in the solo “A room of her own – [action] 34” there is a big tree log onstage. The dialogue with the set created different images (womb, mother, fighter and other images emerging for the audience) through symbolism. So since this last production, my question and concern is how to continue choreographing for Prosxima – since I refuse to create


work without paying people, especially the dancers. I have thus been limited in creating and I am still looking for alternative ways of financing my work (which I haven’t found yet). I am also working as a teacher and choreographer at the seminars organised by Onassis Cultural Centre for a mixed group of people with and without disabilities. These workshops started under the Unlimited Access program and during the unlimited access festival in February 2014, I choreographed the work “The Flight”. This was for 25 performers featuring people with and without disabilities, professionals and people whose first venture into dance this was. https://issuu.com/stegi.onassis.cultural.centre/docs/unlimited_ac cess/27?e=4521962/11582225 These workshops are still going on gladly. After this experience, I felt that I would really like to make work with people with movement disabilities. The participants of these workshops have different levels of disabilities. It is a really diverse group and this is what I found extremely interesting: how this totally mixed group, worked together with such integrity and congruity. This year is the 20th birthday of Prosxima dance company and I have been thinking a lot about how this dance company evolved. The first decade, it operated as a collective of several dancers and choreographers. The second decade my investigation was concerning the body as an embodied message carrier, using practice as research method. This resulted in the [actions] series. I feel now that this period is completing itself too. It has been already a year since I choreographed for Prosxima and there are lots of questions hovering in the air. I need to readdress and redefine a lot of things in and about my work. For the past two years, the refugee crisis in Greece has surpassed me. The past two months I am working with assisting with anything I can do, whenever I have time. I am working with other people on this, collecting food, clothes and distributing them. This huge humanitarian crisis inflicted a kind of numbness and I couldn’t do anything for a few months. I believe that this period of not making work, not engaging in practice, will prove itself very fertile in the future. I am really curious to see where it will lead me. It is actually the first time, that I am offering myself the


opportunity of not making, not composing. It is not easy nor pleasant for me, but I am sure it will bring something new to my future work. Do you consider your work Greek? Yes, especially if I were to connect this question to the last piece I made. I live here and I create here, so I guess my work is Greek. The particular characteristics that make it Greek are not obvious to me. We are nevertheless influenced by the place we were born or grow up, we are not and cannot be isolated or secluded, ever. Is there a Greek dance scene? Do you recognise specific characteristics? Yes , there is definitely a Greek dance scene and continues to bewith significant presence both in Greece and abroad. I don’t know what the common characteristics of it are, though. I am well aware of the works by most choreographers and I think I could recognise the work of someone I know. I think that common characteristics would be regarding the way things happen rather than the what. They would relate to the kind of folly (madness) that Greeks carry, the way they dive into projects even without production money, funding schemes or anything priorly given. The fact that there is a Greek dance scene still existing during these times also has to do with this. The way Greek artists are motivated into creation is more of a common characteristic, than the actual products of dance. There is great variation of the individual dance works, there is a wide range of differences between creators so maybe this is the common element in the Greek dance scene, this diversity. A lot of questions arise with this question: What is it that accurately defines the Flemish, Austrian or French dance scene? What determines these? I don’t know, I need to think about this. Maybe the way you relate to, address or confront something -this is what is Greek? Maybe it is a feeling, an ambience of things rather that the actual movement language proposed in each piece. http://www.prosxima.gr/


Iris Karayan update What has changed since the last interview? I created a new piece the trio “Tracing” produced by and presented at the Athens Festival. The process in “Tracing” was connected to the previous work “Mothers” whilst attempting at a more open approach. I experimented with a new way of working-which increasingly tends towards improvisation-using open structures, which is where I want to go next. I need things to be more in the present moment, for things to happen right here, right now. In order to develop this type of works, we need much more time in creation. We need to train and educate ourselves in dealing with such works in how to create and perform them. It is a skill to distance yourself from something that happened, while something else is happening right now and keeping all this within a specific context and intrinsic rules. I toured with “Mothers” in France, Sweden (4 cities), Denmark, Italy and Sarajevo. Compared to other trips abroad, this was a really nice tour- lots of people saw the work, we had discussions with the audience, the work itself opened up and developed further. It is beautiful to see the work grow, live on and happening. A transition from the sheltered environment of working with the dancers during rehearsals, to the work liberated during the tour, existing on its own. As a choreographer, I also establish a new relationship to the work. You enter different spaces- yes, it is your work, you have choreographed it, designed it, conceived it- but this new relationship evolving with the work, takes it to another level, opens up to multiple directions. I also worked on several projects with Syndesmos Chorou (coalition of seven choreographers) and on a project with visually impaired people at the Onassis Cultural Centre. The Syndesmos Chorou projects were workshops leading to a creation and presentation with a mixed group amateurs and professionals. On the one hand, it was challenging to deal with a mixed group and within limited time, but on the other hand it gave me the freedom to experiment and try out things. I got a chance to see how my ideas can assume form and structure, despite the short duration of the project. I could not work on a deep level but on a concept and its direct application. This applied for all three projects we did


with Syndesmos Chorou: ‘Dancing with the others’ (7+1) at Kakoyiannis Foundation, ‘On the road’ at Kalamata International dance festival and Domino 2 at Kinitiras Studio. The project with the visually impaired at Onassis Cultural centre was also challenging. I worked with amateurs and professionals, visually impaired and not. We had to create a production, which was to be presented at the main stage, and had to deal with the expectations that come with it for a premium, polished result. It was an amazing experience both due to this specific group of people that enrolled for the project (some of which with different levels of disability) and due to the way we worked together. The impressive thing for me was, that even within the constraints of the project, the outcome was and felt really just like my own work. I didn’t do something else than what I do just because of working with this group of people. The end product had my own particular identity, just like the shows I create with professional dancers working for 3 months full time. The elements of exhaustion and persistence which underline my work were still there, while this specific group of people performed it in a way which was not just about amplifying the energy level but by pouring their souls into the work. We also continued with the Untitled series of Collective Choreography Project creating the solos Untitled #3 and #4. On the whole, what changed in the past 2 years is that I am looking for new ways of working. I want something to change in my work, in how it is done and in the way I teach. I am shifting towards an unknown direction. If it would be possible- my current wish would be to go back to studying, getting more knowledge. I have an intense need for more input, more research, more learning and investigating- a need not to settle with what I already know, with whatever tools I already have. I might be thinking of creating a piece only with amateurs or non-dancers or a piece outside the theatre stage or making something that is not dance. I need some change, some shift, I need to displace myself from the landscape in which I am at the moment. And a shift is always better because it is always (an)other.


Do you consider your work Greek? It is Greek because it is being produced in Greece (Greek bred!). It is created within this time and space continuum which is Greece. The work, or the subject can be universal or european or anything else, but it never ceases to belong to fact it is a product created within this specific time and place, which is Greece now. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? Whether there is one... Which/who represents the Greek dance scene, is a current concern. Festivals and festival programmers are trying to create it. There is a new share of the dance market allocated to Greek work. It is recently done with ‘focus on greece’ curated festivals in which some Greek artists or Greek works are invited-building a notion or an assumption that what you see in this festival, is what is actually happening in Greece artistically at the moment. It is not at all an accurate picture, it is rather a constructed one. There are many other artists in Greece, that have been here making work and they still are. There is a manufactured depiction of «Greece» at work within the dance industry, currently. There is no infrastructure in Greece, in order to enter into a discussion about a Greek dance scene at the moment. There isn’t enough theoretical or critical thinking on dance, in direct contrast to other European countries. Due to this lack, there is not enough feedback or support to enter into a discourse regarding the Greek dance scene. In order to create a dance scene, you need a network, infrastructure and resources. For example in France, where undeniably there is a French dance scene, it is as a result of the totality of infrastructures available. They offer the space and time to Dance, there is an artistic policy and an ongoing dialogue on contemporary dance also on theoretical level. All the above create and support the French dance scene. In Greece, there are only a few theorists and the infrastructure is rather feable. There is MIR festival, the festival of new choreographers and a few productions by the Onassis Cultural centre and the Kalamata international dance festival (although they do not engage in dialogue). Onassis Cultural Centre organises


talks with the choreographers and offers workshops with dance makers, MIR festival creates work opportunities and collaborations with other european dance centres and NEON offers production money. All of the above are independent entities though, these (interested in dance) organisations are not connected between them in any way- like in other countries. There are also some other initiatives which also occur independent of each other, such as a dance conference or workshops- discussions on dance. Still, these are ‘islands’ of isolated events, they do stir things up a bit, in the hope that something changes for the better. Regarding identifying Greek characteristics, there are some artists using Greek elements like music or traditional dances in their work for instance Patricia Apergi, Aerites and Ki omos Kinite. As a foreigner, you can easily identify these as Greek dance. I think Patricia uses her own definition of urban street dance, which offers a specific identity to her work. She is interested in the urban landscape, as it is connected to the current sociopolitical conditions and her work is seen as emanating from the Greek urban crisis and hence recognized as Greek. The other deficit in Greek infrastructures is what is offered in terms of dance education, especially at the university level. To summarize, I believe that the Greek dance scene is everything that is created in Greece, in contemporary dance. For example the work of Kat Valastur (aka Katerina Papageorgiou) is not part of the Greek dance scene, although it is communicated as such. She lives is Berlin and is part of the German dance mechanism. I would say that belonging to the Greek dance scene, is irrelevant to nationality or where you come from. Adonis Foniadakis is part of the Greek dance scene(?) but also of so many other scenes in Europe since he works internationally. Lenio Kaklea is part of the French dance scene, Zoe Dimitriou is not part of the Greek dance scene according to how I see it- despite the fact that she is Greek, she is based in the U.K. I believe that the scene you belong is related to which dance mechanism you are in, or the place you live and create.


Medie Megas update

What has changed since the last interview? In 2013 I started working on an international educational and artistic program (Unlimited Access) for dance and disability at the Onassis Cultural Foundation. I worked with a mixed group of people with and without physical and learning disabilities. This workshop opened up new horizons in my work as a teacher and choreographer, and lead to a performance with the title 'Sweet Abyss'. In her seminal text ʽMoving across difference’ Ann Cooper Albright puts into question the movements that we consider as dance and the bodies that can constitute a dancer, that is in my own words. Paraphrasing Ann Cooper Albright I put into question the minds that can constitute dancersʼ minds, maintaining that it is not so much our perception of disability that we need to shift, as our perception of dance itself. During the process of this project, many interesting fields of artistic research emerged for me. One of these had to do with my fascination with the participants' use of language: unusual ways of forming sentences, free association and expressions of great poetic quality. I saw a revealing play with meaning and with the construction of language. Also since the last interview, I participated in a very interesting project, in which I was a faculty member of the Temporary Academy of Arts (TAA) in Peristeri, Athens. This was an artistic project and at the same time a proposition for an alternative professional arts education, curated by Elpida Karamba. It was a relational (or participatory) artistic project and an experiment in education. I taught performance, through classes ironically framed as, for example, 'choreography from a sitting position'. The academy ran for two weeks, with a schedule of compulsory and elective courses. The project was addressed to residents of Peristeri, (a large, yet underdeveloped municipality of Athens) and was funded by NEON organisation. Students graduated formally and got their diplomas upon completion of their studies. But for us the focus was on what this project created within the community, what people it brought together, what shifts it created in their everyday life and their perception of art.


Through this project, I came into contact with a group of visual artists, art theorists and anthropologists, with whom I have continued to collaborate. We run exciting workshops, as, for example the one 'on Love' (or EROS) as a culturally specific and socially constructed phenomenon and I have worked with them on some of their individual works or projects too. Some of these workshops took place at Twixtlab-'a space for art, anthropology and the everyday', ran by two visual artists and an anthropologist. Their aim is to connect art with everyday life, so we investigate different ways and forms to structure our projects and interventions with the public. In my personal work, as a choreographer, during the last years I have developed an improvisational dance form called 'transformation'. This emerged during the rehearsals for a performance I created in 2012, referring to recent Greek history, since the end of the military coup in 1974. The 'transformation' method was further developed with Dr. Kate Adams (dramaturge and theatre maker and theorist) during the creation of "Transforming me, a bilingual solo". This is a solo I myself perform, which premiered at MIR festival and since then has been presented at the Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Kalamata International Dance festival and Danae Festival, Milan. My wish is for this piece to continue to be performed both in Greece and abroad for some years, because I am fascinated by the way it changes and matures with me.

Do you consider your work Greek?

Yes, I do. In the sense that it springs from the experience of living and being an artist in Greece at this specific moment in time, since 2008 when I started choreographing that is. ʽPoetic Asylumʟ was basically a performance tautology, it was about the process of creating one's first 'work of art', a contemplation on the process I was engaging in at the time. 'The Guard Dogʟ dealt with the world of the media in an allegorical way, 'Metapolitefsi' and 'Transforming me' explored the embodied experience of social


transformation in Greeceʟs recent history, the ʽGreekʟ perception of time and the mechanisms of personal change. Having said all this, a crucial element of my identity is that I am half Greek and half English- I have a double nationality and am bilingual. This offers me a dual perspective and specials grounds on which I receive and perform my experience. It offers a certain distance to my gaze. I am both as an insider and outsider. For example, during the 80s especially, when my generation were children, we felt the political conflicts in our skin through endless family and friendly rows and heated debates. My family experience was quite different, and so I entered into the role of the observer, rather than engage passionately in the situation like others. It has always been like that for me; I exist in an 'inbetween' state which can sometimes be a bridge or a void. This 'inbetween' state is the core of the solo work I described earlier, 'Transforming me', which deals with transitions, processes of bridging, belonging and not, living an existence of an ongoing inbetween.

Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics?

At the present moment, I feel that there is a great diversity in Greek dance- mirroring the diverse influences and experiences we have from abroad and our personal incentives and stimuli. The fact is that there is a lot of interesting work happening and being created here, by a number of exciting artists and choreographers. But in my opinion this is not sufficient to create a Greek dance scene, if at the same time we are not creating discourse through self reflection. The volume of choreographic works is not systematically recorded, not discussed, not reflected upon fully within a frame of critical thinking. Hence, the works remain unconnected, discrete events. If we engaged in discourse, first of all there would be more connection between the artists, even simply through discussions. It is clear that the work itself will also benefit in value from artistic and critical discourse. There is


abundant material in the Greek dance landscape: choreographers, dancers, ideas, movement languages but somehow all this doesn't seem to find a way to articulate itself in order to establish its presence. There is chaotic state, which can be productive, creating interesting circumstances, but it is also problematic. For me, the diversity of Greek dance is both negative and positive: there is a lot of different material but we are missing something that we link all of it together.


Sofia Mavragani update

What has happened since the last interview? A lot. Concerning dance making, I have created four works: “Autogoal”, ‘The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm’, “ủhe hero” and “SALOS”, which is a production of Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2016. ‘The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm’ is a collective work made by Fingersix. Fingersix is a collective consisting of five choreographers who, after finishing our studies at ArtEZ/NL, created a structure for action aiming to combine our different artistic practices and cultural identities. We share a common vision towards collective creation and a continual need to explore performing arts methodologies. Fingersix is Dani Brown, Alessio Castellacci, Marta Navaridas, Melina Seldes and Sofia Mavragani). During the past two years my work has been developed both as creative outcome as well as a practice, technique and methodology. What has also been expanded is my understanding of open structures. ‘Open form composition’ is the main method I use in my dance making: The percentage of the set material in the work is limited and thanks to a deep understanding of the structure and the semiology of each scene, the performer is able to re-compose the work’s material in the present moment. Regarding the new works: ‘Autogoal’ is an interactive piece. The performance begins with balls exchanged between the performers and the audience. The balls define the space both literally and figuratively. Then the game-performance begins and the coachathlete relationship reminds us that every game has its rules, roles, encoded communications, goals, defeats and victories. Through the development of the performance, structures of power-games emerge; revealing a hidden mechanism of social training and boundary setting, where the reactions of the audience assume multiple meanings. ‘Autogoal’ has been performed at Kalamata International Dance Festival, Dance Days Festival in Chania- Crete and in Athens at Embros Theatre, Perfect Massin Studio and Playground for the arts. FINGERSIX’s performance ‘The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm’ incorporates real concerns of the audience members by inviting them to write a question about the future.


These questions allow the theatrical event to become a ritualistic mediation between real uncertainties and artistic responses. The audience’s contribution of questions shapes the content of the performance from the beginning while the performers assume the responsibility of linking the present moment with projections of the future. In ‘The Hero’, the scenes and the material are tightly organised. There is no “classic” interaction. My wish beforehand was to overturn my patterns of working on audience interaction. I was looking for new ways for the work to ‘interact’ with the audience, avoiding to addressing the spectator directly. Our challenge in “the Hero”, was to keep the viewer’s engagement at a high level, by evoking laughter and kinesthesia and by keeping the empathy towards the performer alive. ‘Salos’ is my latest work, created in the frame of Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2016. ‘Salos’ means swell. The work gets inspired by the swells of History and focuses on the historical case of the European Union. The EU is going through the longest period of peace throughout its entire existence. Despite the strong challenges it is facing, it seems that it has not yet known the breakout of a sweeping swell. ‘Salos’ implicates three performers in an ever-shifting choreography that imprints our narration on the history of the EU, from its establishment until today. Apart from the creations above, I continue developing ‘playforPLACE, an educational and artistic program on performing arts. The project is an ongoing research on how game structures challenge the possibility of creating new performative forms. The focus lays on the creation of original games with new, invented rules, the ability of collaboration and interaction, the ways to revisit old habits and everyday surroundings from a brand new perspective, to learn how to create and refresh that perspective, and finally to understand what means to be creative and playful. The project has been realized in 16 cities in Europe, Latin America and Oceania (Thessaloniki, Kalamata, Nicosia, Wellington, Reykjavik, Zagreb, Belgrade, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Kastoria, Graz, Trikala, Corfu and Antwerp, Porto, Sevilla). Soon it is traveling to Cape Town in South Africa. In each city I collaborate with a local artist in order to form a unique and adapted to the characteristics of the city program; which can take the format of a workshop, a residency, a lecture etc.


It is very interesting to observe not only the differences but also the similarities that exist among the cities. The way the word “play” resonates in each place is particular but also similar. What has been the great victory of the project is that our approach on ‘playing’ does change people’s perspective of their own creativity, their relationship with the city; the city becomes an inspiring platform while the context of play continuously redefines and challenges this relationship. Final aim of the project is to form an improvisation technique/practice that will combine improvisation and gaming principles. And yes! I do use principles of playforPLACE experience in my work. playforPLACE has helped me in the formation of the creative process and in the specification of the characteristics of the body I am interested in seeing on stage, therefore the performing body I propose. In ‘The Hero”, for instance, together with Melina Seldes, we created a specific training for the performer-Nontas Damopoulos, in order for him to acquire the necessary skills for this piece; a combination of physical work and improvisation practice. Since 2007, I also teach the subject of choreography. In fact I design, curate and mentor choreographic processes. It is very interesting to find creative and effective solutions within different dance educational systems. In Greece, the dance curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and Culture and it is over than 30 years old. The minister should definitely address and update it, so to integrate the current needs of the international scene. Do you consider your work Greek? In a way yes, in another no. I can’t really understand what is defined as Greek-ness. I have studied abroad, so my basic dance/art information, practice, aesthetics come from Central Europe. On the other hand, I live and create in Greece- I am absolutely influenced and permeated by Greek culture and current reality. Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics? There is quite a lot of dance making happening in Greece and primarily in Athens. If we bound the outcome of this work then we


could say that we have something like a dance scene. This scene is currently lit up by the current socio-economic-political situation in Greece. The international curatorial system seems interested in the Greek art reality. Together with the current tendency for labelling (both by labelling and not labelling) and the tendency for creating inspiring and communicational strong frames, the creation of a Greek Dance scene seems a necessary and catchy project. As for specific characteristics, I have observed that there is an exceptional increase in the number of dance makers. One generation ago, the total number of choreographers was around 10, now it is more than 30. The number of people who have the opportunity to study abroad has increased, young people’s creativity has been encouraged and opportunities for presenting work keep on being invented. Concerning education, I feel there is a great need for developing improvisation and composition skills. I find extremely urgent the training of imagination and creativity. Unfortunately, it is not granted and it certainly shouldn’t be forgotten. And I would add the ability of risk taking. I find strange when students -young people- are incapable of taking risks. How will we find if we don’t dare? I wonder if it is a matter of our times. Of course I have no idea. An additional observation that I am very fun of it is the tendency of the Greek dance reality to embrace a great variety of body types. Democracy may struggle in the political arena, but on the dance floor democracy is triumphing. Dance floor is for all. My current passion? History! I spend quite some hours per week attending history courses, in very different formats (online, private, public). At the moment, I am focused on Hellenistic Period. Before that, I learnt a lot about Byzantine and Ottoman times- and I am looking forward to start learning what actually happened during the Revolution of 1821 and the beginning of the Greek state. It is extremely interested to reinvent the past and discover how present it is. Unfortunately History is being repeated, it seems we have learned nothing.


Maxine Heppner What changed if something changed in your work from October 2013 to November 2015? I am more quiet and more honest with myself, making the process with others more joyful. Inside the work, that is still dense and tightly constructed, there seems to be more space. Pauses are open rather than closed. And if the work is a circle, rather than standing deep inside the circle I am closer to the edge, rested, poised and ready. Do you consider your work Greek? I don’t assign a nationality to my work. Years of living in Greece heighten certain awarenesses and expressive modes, although they are difficult to put into words. Similarly years of work in Canada and in Southeast Asia have heightened other modes. Can you identify characteristics of the Greek dance scene? Do you recognise such a scene existing? Multi-facetted. Reaching. Expressive. Emotional. Technical. Abstract. Physical. Active. Indefatiquable.


2015-2017 fromstagetopage.wordpress.com contains all these interviews as well as thoughts on works and methods by other choreographers and dance artists.

From stage to page would like to thank all the artists fro sharing their thoughts and practices. everybodies publications, Andre Lepecki and Marten Spangberg for inspiring this initiative.


Profile for from stage to page

From stage to page volume 2 interviews  

An artist lead initative on the greek dance scene.

From stage to page volume 2 interviews  

An artist lead initative on the greek dance scene.


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