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Dance seedlings flower on stage March 27, 2008

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27-03-08_ndt.jpg  Dance magic. Jiri Kylian’s “Toss of a Dice”. Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon’s “Silent Screen”. The Nederlands Danse Theater at the Athens Concert Hall for performances on 27, 28, 29 and 30 March at 21:oo hours.

A dozen dancers gaze into space while their bodies stand motionless like Japanese symbols on stage. Susumu Shingu’s striking sculpture is suspended from the roof, conveying the feeling that we are facing the dancers of the future. That is choreographer Jiri Kylian’s «Toss of a Dice», but he has more surprises in store. The famous Nederlands Danse Theater is set to present a highly interesting program at the Athens Concert Hall until Sunday, starting tonight. The Dutch company, one of the world’s most acclaimed and popular dance ensembles, will perform choreographies by Kylian as well as by his younger colleagues Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon.

The Nederlands Danse Theater, especially its main section, NDT I, has visited Athens in the past. This week, local audiences will be able to enjoy its new face, meaning its new generation of dancers.

The program features two choreographies, one by Lightfoot and Leon and another by Kylian. Both premiered in the Hague in April 2005. Earlier in the season they had been forced to cancel a big tour in the Far East. To have an unpredictable, mid-season change is a nightmare for any artistic director; but on the other hand it can provide opportunities. So they decided to give their main choreographers an extended period of time, which in turn led to the program that it will be staged in Athens.

Lightfoot and Leon’s «Silent Screen» is inspired by silent cinema. Although there is no specific plot, the choreography is like a narrative. The music is by Philip Glass. As for Jiri Kylian, his work in general is inspired by Japanese culture. «Toss of a Dice» is no exception – here Kylian worked with Japanese artist Susumu Shingu, whose sculpture features prominently on the sets and has a direct influence on the stage and the dancers’ relationship with it.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali Street and Vasilissis Sophias Avenue, Athens.

Exploring love in dance in Aphrodite’s loveland, Cyprus March 15, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Cyprus, Arts Exhibitions Cyprus, Ballet Dance Opera.
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The 8th Annual Contemporary Dance Platform > Mid-March marks the beginning of the dance season with the Annual Contemporary Dance Platform taking place at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol, Cyprus.

Three evenings, March 14, 15, and 16 will serve to showcase new works from local choreographers. In the eight years that the platform has been taking place it has gained respectability and stature in the local community and every year the organisers add a new feature. This year, the regular programme will be accompanied by a new programme entitled “Dance Throughout the Year” offered at the new Dance House Lemesos, allowing foreign festival presenters that visit a glimpse in to works that are created during the entire year.

The first evening will open with a performance by Dance Theater Interact with choreography by Victoria Fillipou Aristidou entitled “About Us”. The work is performed by three women Marina Kyriakidou, Arianna Marcoulidou, and Fillipou. Each woman is consumed by a different prop representing different stages and preoccupations in women’s lives. The piece is accompanied by a video created by Michalis Aristidou and Markos Panayiotou.

Milena Ugren Koulas’ new work “Nothing” for Jeunesses Musicales carries her signature choreographic style, however this solo has a slightly different air. She explains that the solo was a result of her boredom with herself, with having nothing to say, being emotionally and choreographically consumed and exhausted. In result the work is based on a simple ideal – a few effective motifs, linear floor and movement patterns. An exposed, vulnerable performer with a refreshing honesty, Ugren shows a bird-like delicacy and subdued aggression.

Showing work for the first time at the Platform is Aelion Dance Company with choreography by Alexia and Fotini Perdikaki and Maria Mavromichali. “21 minutes” is a work about relationships between genders and different understandings that may occur. Set on six dancers, the three choreographers and Marianna Dimou, Fani Efthymiou, and Suzanna Fialla, the piece is stylised, subtle, and feminine. It is a carefully choreographed dance that holds somatic expression at its core, intermixed with clever moments of theatrical installations.

The second evening of the festival will open at the Dance House Lemesos with two works. Milena Ugren Koulas will show “While Walking” at 18:30, followed by “Heart Time” a work by Lia Haraki and Machi Demetriou Lindahl. Ugren premiered the piece last year at the Platform as a trio and has reworked it into a solo that she has performed at a number of European festivals. Haraki and Lindahl showed their work at the Dance House in November as the first official performance in the space. It is a wonderful alternative dance theatre work exploring different ideas and shapes of love in moving, funny and poignant ways.

Four companies will present work at the Rialto on the Saturday night, starting with Evie Demetriou’s work “Give Me Not” for Omada En Drasei. The duet between the choreographer and Victoria Fillipou Aristidou focuses on the emotional impositions present in a relationship. This is literally represented by props, which form a pile that is passed between the dancers or placed on each other, which in turn forms an obstruction for them and on them. The partnering begins with a gestural conversation that develops into physical partnering that involves manipulations, lifts and throws, falling and sliding.

Echo Arts will present choreography by Arianna Economou “If Not for You” for four performers. Performed by a mixture of trained dancers and non-dancers the work is an exploration of sound, spoken word and movement with text written by Pantelis Georgiou for the particular performance. As usual Economou’s work will involve a multi-disciplinary approach based on improvisation and experimental choreographic methods.

After last year’s absence, Chorotheatro Amfidromo will show a new work “So Close, So Far” by Elena Christodoulidou. Judging from her description of the piece, the work explores a loss of memory in a person and its affect on the ageing mind and body.

Closing the evening will be Elena Antoniou, a performer we’ve been watching for many years, but this year’s offering is her first as choreographer. Her work “This is what you Get” created in collaboration with Polys Peslikas serving as an artistic advisor, is an everyday love story – a meeting, development of a relationship, and its possible failure. The work combines dance with theatrical installation moments, introducing “other” characters with props and lights. A great selection of music accompanies the solo allowing Antoniou to vary technical dance movement with stylised social dancing and her great ability as a theatrical performer.

The last evening will also begin at Dance House with a short dance video “The Only On(c)e” by Christodoulos Christodoulou at 19:00, followed by a new solo “Body Memory 1. Angel” by Machi Demetriou Lindahl.

At 20:30 the last evening of the platform will begin with a performance by Chorotheatro Omada Pente with “Threefold” by Roula Kleovolou. Set on three dancers – Chloi Melidou, Arianna Marcoulides, and Milena Ugren Koulas – the piece seeks to explore the ideas of borders. Borders are interpreted literally and metaphorically, by props, lights, movement, choreographic patterns and the spoken word. Kleovoulou’s work is straightforward, simple and effective which allows her to convey her emotional and psychological ideas.

Alexandra Waierstall’s new work “Terminus” will follow. It is the final installment in the trilogy of works entitled “A Human Study”, which began with a solo “Affect” shown at the platform two years ago, then followed by a duet “Between” presented last year. Waierstall’s has found a clear choreographic voice in the last few years beginning with “Affect” so it will be interesting to see how this piece with the magnificent Evangelia Randou, Christos Papadopoulos, and the choreographer herself will develop from the previous works. As a continuation of the duet “Between”, this piece will show an opposition to the calmness and quiet tension shown there by introducing a clash between characters.

The evening will finish with works by Athena Christodoulou for Soma Dance Company and Elena Kyprianou, a first time presenter at the Platform, for En Choro. Both women will present solos. “Utopia” combines dance performance with a video installation. In her solo Christodoulou examines ideas of performance, exposing oneself as an artist and a person whilst trying to hold on to the magic of creativity and performance.

The platform is a good opportunity to see how contemporary dance in Cyprus is developing. It offers an overview of the choreographic and performance level available in Cyprus. Most pieces premier at the platform and continue to grow and improve in the following performances.

An exhibition showing photographs by Christos Avraamides and drawings and video by Horst Waisterstall at the nearby Artstudio 55 will take place alongside performances. The platform is a popular event so make sure you book your tickets early.

Related Links > http://www.rialto.com.cy/

Athens pulling on its dancing shoes March 10, 2008

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The Griffon Dance Company is staging “One Flesh”, choreographed by Ioanna Portolou, at the company’s studio in Plaka every weekend until the end of March.

With spring almost upon us, the Athens dance scene is slowly emerging from hibernation. It won’t be long before the well-established dance festival by the Association of Greek Choreographers takes place once more. Major foreign dance companies including the Nederlands Dans Theater and Diversions of Wales, are expected to perform toward the end of the month. Yet right now the spring’s first shows are being held by two local dance companies.

Well-known choreographer Ioanna Portolou and her Griffon Company have this time chosen their studio in Syntagma Square to stage their latest production. Portolou never ceases to amaze the audience with movement inspired by gestures and reflections of daily life as well as special musical choices and interesting clothes. “One Flesh” staged every weekend until the end of March, was inspired by the wedding ritual and explores the concept of that union of lovers. How can two people become one peacefully? To become one, must the other person exist or must they be made to disappear? What is the “male” role and what the “female”? In that role-playing game, what belongs to which parter? All these questions are explored in the performance.

Equally interesting questions and suggestions are sought by the newly founded Angeloskoni Dance Company, which will stage Angeliki Papadatou’s “Fotosoma” from March 15 to 18 at the Ledra Theater in Plaka. The production is a joint collaboration by the Athens School of Fine Arts Photography Workshop and Very Special Arts Hellas. Photographers and dancers, some with disabilities, meet on stage and try to find their own identities using the visual and aesthetic perception of their bodies as the starting point.

What is our true image? How do we perceive ourselves? How do others see us? These are definitely ideas well worth exploring.

Griffon Dance Company, 23 Apollonos Street, Syntagma Square, Athens, tel 6932436034.

Ledra Theater, 12 Kekropos Street, Plaka, Athens, tel 210 3245969.

Mamma Mia! soon to be here March 7, 2008

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On the eve of her wedding, the daughter of a tavern-running Englishwoman who resides on a Greek island embarks on a quest to discover the identity of her father. She invites three men from her mother’s past back to the island, which they last visited 20 years ago. Named after ABBA’s all-time classic “Mamma Mia”, Catherine Johnson’s hilarious tale of love and friendship that has mesmerised over 30 million people since its London premiere in 1999 makes it to Athens in May for 24 shows.

A global smash hit that has played in 160 cities over the last eight years, grossing over 2 billion dollars in earnings, Mamma Mia! owes a great deal of its success to its soundtrack, which features ABBA pop chart-toppers “Dancing Queen”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Money, Money, Money” and “The Winner Takes It All”.

“Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson’s tunes wrote history in pop music. Our production wrote history in the musical theatre genre,” Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd points out.

Currently playing in London, New York, Las Vegas, Spain, Germany, Russia and Korea, the work’s Athens production is part of an international tour that has visited 22 countries since 2004. Ulvaeus, who was present at a February 19 press meeting, said that Greece is the ideal choice as the work’s protagonist Donna is a characteristic persona on every Greek island. He said that the work’s lasting appeal can be put down to a constant effort to keep it up-to-date and to include references to the country the work travels to every time.

Asked about the chances of witnessing an ABBA reunion in the near future, Ulvaeus said: “Who would want to see four 68-year-olds on stage?” He added that he is still surprised by the group’s lasting success over the years and referred to ABBA’s costumes as “an expression of bad taste at its height”, which nevertheless was in accord with the Eurovision contest dress code and the glamorous 1970s.

The Greek show of Mamma Mia! comes shortly before the official London launching on July 1 of the film Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan and partly filmed in the Sporades islands, Greece.

Mamma Mia! > Badminton Theatre, Alsos Stratou, Goudi, Athens for 24 shows starting May 6. Tickets range from 20 to 85 euros and are available from Virgin Megastores, Ticketnet, 46 Kifissias Street, Athens, tel 210 8840600. Credit card reservations on 210 8840600 and www.ticketnet.gr

Tango’s eternal embrace November 1, 2007

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Internationally renowned dancers will perform in a special production of the world’s most passionate dance

When tango first evolved in Buenos Aires in the late 1800s, it was seen as a terribly scandalous new dance. At the time, the waltz and the polka were the only other dances requiring a man and woman to hold each other, but the embrace was staid in comparison to the shocking closeness of the partners dancing the tango.

A world away from the posh ballrooms of Europe however, tango was born in bars, gambling houses and brothels. As lonely men looked for a little entertainment, they fell into the arms of women who were willing to dance cheek to cheek, chests together, their legs intertwined.

The middle and upper classes frowned upon this kind of activity, and ‘decent’ families or women of good reputation did not want to have anything to do with this dangerous new behaviour. But this sensational dance was unstoppable and orchestras and dancers from Buenos Aires began to travel to Europe to show the world their moves. The first European tango craze took place in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century, where it became the dance of the moment and rapidly migrated to London, Rome, Berlin and finally New York. Back in Buenos Aires, no longer was tango a dance to be frowned upon, on the contrary, it became the most fashionable dance at all grand social events and parties.

Today, tango is one of the most popular dances in the world, seen as sensual and romantic by millions around the world who enrol in classes to learn the intricate moves. All lovers of the dance in Cyprus can look forward to something really special at the start of November, as a very glitzy and passionate Argentine Tango performance will be staged in Nicosia and Limassol.

Named ‘The Eternal Embrace’, the show will include the participation of three of the most famous Argentine tango couples from Buenos Aires, world-class musicians, special effects and projections, all under the artistic direction of Julia Gorina. Brought to Cyprus by JG Productions, the show will be staged for two nights at the Nicosia Municipal Theatre on November 8 and 9, and at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol on November 10.

As a real affair of the heart, the name ‘Eternal Embrace’ was aptly chosen, as all net profit sales will be given to the medical fund of the charity Adult Congenital Heart Defects Association. “Tango starts from an embrace and all the rest just builds from that touch. It’s a strong and supportive gesture, but also one of kindness and softness,” says Gorina.

The show is a brand new tango production, best described as a fascinating fiesta of dance and music that brings together top grade performers who are currently touring around the world, Gabriel Misse and Alejandra Mantinian, Omar Ocampo and Monica Romero and Fernando Serrano and Bibliana Reynoso.

The dancers and musicians bring alive a story of a man and woman in love, complete with seduction, passion, love and hate, and friendships destroyed by rivalry.

The show will take you on a journey through all tango styles and rhythms. Omar and Monica were the stars of the most famous tango show in the history of Argentine tango, ‘Tango Passion’ and toured the world. Monica has studied and performed with some of the most prestigious choreographers and Argentine tango teachers, while Omar has performed as the lead dancer in some of the most important masterpieces of national Argentine folkloric dance productions. Alexandra and Gabriel are another famous duo, and for the past five years they have been performing in shows such as the famous ‘Una Noche de tango’.

Fernando and Bibliana make an interesting partnership between a male dancer who is renowned around the world as a real ‘tango showman’, and a new generation female dancer who combines classical tango with contemporary moves.

The renowned Austrian violinist Dora Schwarzberg will be performing the music, accompanied by Jorge Bosso, the talented composer and virtuoso cello player from Argentina, and Ludmila Pischik on the piano.

Tango – The Eternal Embrace > An Argentine tango performance with three of the most famous Argentine tango couples from Buenos Aires, world-class musicians, special effects and projections. November 8 and 9, Nicosia Municipal Theatre, 8.30pm, tel 77772717. November 10, Rialto Theatre, Limassol, 8.30pm, tel 77777745. Tickets at Cy£15. For general information call 25 822842 and 25 578220.

All eyes on troubled ballet’s newly appointed director October 31, 2007

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Famed Russian dancer Irek Mukhamedov makes his debut on Sunday.

«I always tell myself that whatever happens is only for the better,» says Irek Mukhamedov, the world-renowned classical dancer who recently assumed the top artistic post at the troubled Greek National Opera Ballet.

Succeeding another prominent figure as artistic director, the Canadian classical dancer Lynn Seymour, who resigned abruptly in the summer after a one-year tenure, Mukhamedov is the latest bet being placed by the Greek ballet’s administration. Seymour had walked out declaring that her «artistic objectives could not be reached under specific working conditions» while adding that the changes she had proposed «could not be implemented in the near future».

Now 47, Mukhamedov, who continues to rank as one of the world’s most impressive classical dancers, has often declared: «I don’t want to be one of the ordinary ones. I want to be the best».

Born in Kazan, Russia, Mukhamedov trained at the Moscow Ballet School. In 1981, he won the Grand Prix at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and was recruited as the principal dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet, where he remained for nine years.

His performances in «Spartacus», «Ivan the Terrible», «Raymonda», «Romeo and Juliet» and «The Golden Age», a production choreographed just for Mukhamedov, highlighted his phenomenal talent.

In 1990, a significant year in Mukhamedov’s career, the Russian artist moved to the West to become the principle dancer at Covent Garden’s Royal Ballet. He stayed until 2001. Last year, when Seymour was appointed artist director to the Greek National Opera Ballet, Mukhamedov joined her here as an assistant and trainer. Now at the helm himself, Mukhamedov is set to stage his debut production for the National Opera Ballet this Sunday evening, as both dancer and choreographer, at the Olympia Theater. The performance will feature three ballets, «Paquita» by Marius Petipa, Jose Limon’s «The Moor’s Pavane» and August Bournonville’s «Napoli».

Greek festival’s 3-day run starts Friday in Peoria October 31, 2007

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Baklava is but one of the pastry treats that await you at this weekend’s Taste of Greek Festival in Peoria. It’s the 20th year for the bash, held this year at St. Haralambos Church.

The koulouria (twisted cookies) are baked, the dolmades are stuffed and the lamb is roasted. You can enjoy these Greek delights and more at the Taste of Greece Food and Dance Festival. The festival, in its 20th year, runs Friday through Sunday at St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in downtown Peoria. Organizers boast it’s the only Greek festival west of the Piestewa Freeway.

“There is a large Greek population in the West Valley, and it’s only getting bigger as the population continues to grow out here,” says Father Michael Pallad, pastor of St. Haralambos.

For its 20th anniversary, the Taste of Greece Festival has been planned as its biggest ever, featuring Greek music and dance, tours of the church to explain the icons and rituals of the Orthodox Church, and food. Lots of food; There will be thousands of cookies; hundreds of loaves of tsourekia, a braided sweet bread; dozens of legs of lamb, all available for visitors to the festival.

“There is a huge assortment,” says Stella Pagos, food chairwoman for the festival. “Food is the main attraction of the festival.” And everything, from the moussaka to the baklava, is made from scratch by members of the parish.

“We’ve been cooking for about a month already. It is a huge community effort. We have 10 to 20 people working daily down at the church to get everything ready. We started with the pastries and as we get closer we’re going to do the entrees,” Pagos says.

According to Pagos, Greek festivals started about 50 years ago in the Midwest as a way to maintain Greek heritage and traditions in America. And as anyone who has seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding knows, food is central to Greek culture.

“We’re making the sort of food you would have at your yaya’s (grandmother’s) house when the family gets together after church on Sunday.”

Taste of Greece Food & Dance Festival, 5-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday. St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, 10320 N. 84th Ave., Peoria. Admission $2. Details: 623-486-8665, www.peoriagreekfest.com.