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‘Swan Lake’ sells out Athens Concert Hall December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Ballet Dance Opera.
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‘Swan Lake,’ featuring the State Opera Kiev Ballet, will launch the Athens Concert Hall’s events for the holiday season. The production’s choreography is almost entirely based on the classic version delivered by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895. All five performances, from tonight to Sunday, have sold out.

The most popular work by leading Romantic period composer Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, “Swan Lake” will open this year’s festive season offerings at the Athens Concert Hall. It should be noted, however, that all five performances, programmed for tonight to Sunday and featuring the State Opera Kiev Ballet and the Athens State Orchestra, have sold out.

The production’s choreography is almost entirely based on the classic version delivered by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov in 1895, one of a number of works originally created by other choreographers but resurrected by Petipa. Greek choreographer Leonidas Depian, also the production’s costume designer, has made slight variations to the Petipa-Ivanov version of this classic ballet.

Two exquisite dancing pairs, Maria Alexandrova with Sergei Filin and Polina Semionova with Artem Shpilevsky, will alternate from evening to evening as the State Opera Kiev Ballet’s soloists. Alexandrova and Filin will lead tonight and on Friday and Sunday, while Semionova and Shpilevsky will lead tomorrow and Saturday.

The list of Petipa’s revival of works by others, which went on to become the definitive versions, also includes “Le Corsaire,” “Giselle,” “La Esmeralda,” and “Coppelia.”

This production’s sets were designed by Nikos Petropoulos. The Athens State Orchestra will be conducted by Vyron Fidetzis for all five performances.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, tel 210 7282333.

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Cirque le Masque up, up and away in Athens December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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Shows by New York’s acrobatic troupe kick off tonight

The striking spectacle ‘Carnivale’ is being staged at the Dais Cultural Center in Paradeisos, Maroussi, through Christmas Day

Much-awaited performances of the New York-based acrobatic ensemble Cirque le Masque will finally open at the Dais Cultural Center, situated in the Doukas Schools in Maroussi, tomorrow. The 17 scheduled shows, which have been designed to appeal to both children and grown-ups, will run through Christmas Day and will take place in a theater especially constructed for the occasion.

The shows promise breathtaking acrobatics, a lot of laughter, striking special effects, colorful costumes and great music. Following the Cirque du Soleil, this modern type of circus, which does not include animals, is the evolution of the older, traditional circus we are accustomed to.

The Cirque le Masque, an offshoot of New York’s legendary Circus Dance Theater, is coming to town with 30 performers, acrobats and artists from Mexico, Germany, Italy, Canada and the former Soviet Union, to present its latest production, a fairy-tale spectacle titled “Carnivale.”

The two-hour show, created by Dennis Schussel who has spent many years in the acrobatic world, consists of 16 stories. After a serious accident he had as a professional acrobat, Schussel opted to continue his career as a director. “That incident took place at a time when I had reached a peak in my life. It may have closed some doors for me, but it also opened other doors that I never imagined existed. After all, a dancer cannot go on dancing throughout all his life; at some point the body experiences the relentless wear of time and has to accept it.”

The Cirque le Masque travels around the world staging fascinating spectacles wherever it may be. One hundred people worked until the very last minute to set up a theater with a 1,300-seat capacity for the Athens shows. “I wanted to create a show where every audience member could experience the beat of the movements as if they were on stage themselves,” explained Dennis Schussel.

“I have been influenced by painters from the Renaissance, which explains the colors of our show, and by the contemporary art scene,” said the artistic director, who visited Athens four years ago with “Fire and Ice” at Athens College.

“Carnivale” is being staged at the Dais Cultural Center, Doukas Schools, 151 Mesogeion Avenue, Paradeisos, Maroussi, tel 210 6186060. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Virgin Megastore music stores, at Village cinemas around Athens and at Ticket Shop, tel 211 9559900.

Latent local talent discovered December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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Haunting work of late photographer Panayiotis Iliopoulos goes public for first time at Benaki Museum 

Unless they had an eye for artistic creativity, the inhabitants of the village of Philiatra who, during the interwar and postwar period, visited the photographic studio of Panayiotis Iliopoulos to have their photograph taken, must have been somewhat surprised by the rather unconventional images that Iliopoulos finally presented them with. Although there is nothing extravagant in the portraits taken by Iliopoulos, all have something unusual about them, an element of underlying eccentricity found in the small details, the setting of the portrait or the positioning of the sitters. Iliopoulos had a distinctive, artistic style. He also had a rare talent for delving beyond appearances into the psychology of the individual and for making the viewer of his pictures imagine the stories and the lives of the people that are portrayed.

Strangely, Iliopoulos (1897-1985) was, up until recently, hardly known to historians of Greek photography nor did he live to see his work gain wider recognition. But thanks to the recent donation of his work by his children to the Photographic Archive of the Benaki Museum as well as an exhibition organized by the museum in recognition of the donation, the work of this talented, unusual photographer will be solidly placed in the high ranks of 20th-century Greek photography.

Photographer and photography writer Platon Rivellis, the person who suggested to Iliopoulos’s children that they contact the museum, has curated “Panos Iliopoulos: A Life’s Adventure and the Poetry of Photography,” a wonderful exhibition that introduces the work of this artist to the public. Rivellis has made an unusual choice of arranging selected portraits in pairs. Although one might be misled into thinking otherwise, the choice of pairing the portraits was principally made for the practical reason of fitting as many images as possible into the given space. Yet, the arrangement also helps the viewer make comparisons and associations.

In some images, one will find humor. The portrait of a young woman kneeling as if in prayer seems to poke fun at the staged artificiality of studio photography. A surreal element also pervades most images. The potrait of a timid-looking man photographed in the studio with his motorbike is one of the best examples.

In some portraits, Iliopoulos has tried to capture a relaxed pose and a spur-of-the-moment feel. A young man lighting a cigarette or another reading a letter have that typical, unpretentious aspect of Iliopoulos’s photos and show his rare capacity for bringing to life the persona of each sitter.

Iliopoulos’s self-portraits are some of the most unusual in the exhibition. In one of them, he is shown full body, extending his arm to an imagined person opposite him. In others, he casts himself in roles, or is simply shown among friends or the members of his family. In some cases, he is shown holding a painting or a religious icon, elements that also feature in the exibition’s other portraits; it is likely that they express the photographer’s inclination toward painting and religious icon painting, which he studied and practiced along with photography.

It is possible that Iliopoulos’s self-portraits stem from the same incentive that led the artist to compose an extensive autobiographical essay in the mid-50s.

The essay, which is included in the exhibition’s informative catalogue, art historian Elisavet Plessa has edited the catalogue, recounts an adventurous life filled with hardships but also displays a rare appreciation for life.

An orphan from an early age, Iliopoulos fought in the Asia Minor campaign and witnessed the ensuing great disaster. Destitute and with no hope for a better future at home, he decided to try his luck in the United States. Traveling via Mexico as an illegal immigrant, he arrived in Detroit, Michigan, in 1923 where he worked in the railway construction business. A few years later, he discovered his inclination for art and photography and joined Chicago’s School of Photography, a branch of New York’s Institute of Photography.

With the economic depression of the late 1920s, Iliopoulos returned to Greece, back to his hometown of Philiatra, a village in Messinia in the Peloponnese, where he set up his first photographic studio.

Besides portraits, Iliopoulos also took documentary images that have historic value. Scenes from the Asia Minor campaign or events related to the history of his hometown, for example the visit by Ioannis Metaxas to Kyparissia in 1939, are among them. They are all included in the Iliopoulos archive of 3,500 negatives and a great number of photographs that the Iliopoulos family donated to the Benaki Photographic Archive along with other documents and photographic equipment that belonged to the artist.

The exhibition which is currently hosted at the Benaki focuses on just one aspect of the photographer’s work, yet the one that Rivellis believes to have the greatest artistic significance. It is a beautiful, unusual and moving exhibition on the oeuvre of an artist who lived his life with the same force that permeates his work.

At the Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari street, Kolonaki, Athens, tel 210 3671000 to January 14.

More Greeks intend to spend their winter holidays abroad December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Tourism.
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A record number of Greeks are planning trips abroad over this holiday period, according to data by the Hellenic Association of Tourism and Travel Agencies (HATTA).

Yiannis Evangelou, the president of HATTA, said that this year an unprecedented 60 percent of all trips to be made from Greece to another country over the festive season were already booked in November.

This allows for projections about a record number of trips abroad, while the number of people traveling within Greece is also anticipated to be greater than last year. HATTA estimates suggest that some 85,000 Greeks have chosen to spend their holidays in another country.

Evangelou attributes this shift mostly to good offers by travel agencies and to the alliances developed by certain agencies promoting one another’s trips in their brochures. This has led many Greeks to make their reservations well in advance.

The most popular destinations include Central Europe, Budapest and Prague are favorites and Poland is gaining ground due to travel packages combining trips to Warsaw and Krakow. Meanwhile, Rome remains a popular destination for Greeks, as it has in the past.

Greeks are also making more holiday bookings to Balkan states, mainly traveling by bus or car from Northern Greece. HATTA expects that these states will attract about 20 percent of the Greeks traveling abroad over the holidays.

Most of the tourists traveling by air will face, for the first time, new security measures imposed at airports that limit the kinds of objects in hand luggage that can be taken aboard.

As far as domestic destinations are concerned, the overview of the market is far easier during this period, as the number of accommodation units operating in the winter is definitely smaller than those open over the summer. Demand exceeds supply, particularly in popular destinations such as the Zagorohoria in Epirus, Pelion mountain in Thessaly, Arahova next to Delphi and Kalavryta in the Peloponnese. The average hotel occupancy in such destinations, which also include ski resorts, reaches 100 percent.

There is also an increase in occupancy rates in accommodation near well-known winter resorts. There is an unusually high degree of interest in destinations in the Peloponnese such as Arcadia, mainly due to the the high-quality accommodation units constructed in the last few years. Winter resorts, however, cost much more than the summer ones because demand grows faster than supply.

However, there are now offers even from top-tier hotels in the country’s islands, such as Crete, where one can find packages that are up to 50 percent cheaper than in the summer period.

Tram on slow track to Voula December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Transport Air Sea Land.
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The Athens tram route will be extended to Voula in southern Athens by September, at least 10 months later than originally planned, officials said yesterday.

The extension of the tram route, which presently ends in Glyfada, was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. However, archaeological finds in the path of the soon-to-be-laid lines slowed down its extension.

Sophocles Psilianos, the managing director of Tram SA, the company that operates the tram, said that improved technology will help to cut the time needed to build the 750-meter extension and provide less of an obstacle to traffic in the area.

“The construction involves technology that is being used systematically abroad and this gives a significant time advantage,” said Psilianos.

The cost of adopting the newer technology will be 20 percent higher than using previous construction methods but will take only seven days for installation rather than one month.

Greek and FYROM archaeologists co-op December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece.
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Greek and FYROM archaeologists will kick off cross-border archaeological exploring in southern Pelagonia Valley and Northern Greece.

The project is of cross boundary nature and it was co-organized by Bitola’s Institute and Museum, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and the FYROM Museum. Four representatives of the two countries will be included in the project.

The outmost objective of archaeological exploring, which will be getting underway in sites near Bitola’s villages Karamani and Radobor, including the sites near Janica, Northern Greece, is to collect data on the Bronze Age.

“There will be no archaeological excavations or direct conservations in the course of the research on Bronze Age,” said the archaeologist Engin Nasuh of the Bitola’s Museum. He added that there will be access routes to archaeological sites, project promotion and marketing.

A Web site will be created, including CDs and catalogue once the data are obtained from FYROM and Greece. The project, which will run in the next 18 months, is financially supported by the Council of Europe.

Greek designer Kokosalaki prepping for Vionnet December 13, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Fashion & Style.
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Greek fashion-designer Sophia Kokosalaki seemed to be prepping for her new role as design director at the house of Vionnet, whose iconic designer, Madeleine Vionnet, re- invented bias cutting and draping in the 1920s.

Leaving her Greek origins behind as she sent out shades of burnt umber and lime green, Kokosalaki did a riff on the tucks and pleats that are popping up all over, but that she has always used as part of her oeuvre.

The brief collection could have done with more of a workout on some of its themes, as when quilting was used to define the shape of a bodice above shiny pants or when two slithering satin outfits worked the drapes and tucks. But footwear on a curved heel theme melded nicely with tailored shorts and brief dresses.

The counterpoint to the fluorescent green was a basic beige and muddy brown, which made for wearable clothes. All the ideas of the British-based designer may be further developed and refined when the Vionnet collection is born next year.