Between real uncertainties and artistic responses

Autogoal – photo: Miltos Athanasiou

What has happened since the last interview a few years ago?

A lot. Concerning dance making, I have created four works: Autogoal, The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm, Τhe 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 a 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 coach-athlete relationship reminds us that every game has its rules, roles, encoded communications, goals, defeats and victories. Through the development of the performance, the structure 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.


The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm – photo: Margarita Nikitaki


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 addressing the spectator directly.  Our challenge in “the Hero”, was to keep the viewer’s engagement at a high level, by evoking laughter and kinaesthesia and by keeping the empathy towards the performer alive.


The Hero – photo: Despina Spirou


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.


Salos – photo: Margarita Nikitaki


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 lies 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 realised 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 travelling 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 which 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 have been teaching 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 30 years old. The minister should definitely address and update it, so as to integrate the current needs of the international scene.


The Hero – photo: Despina Spirou


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.


The paradox of a future in the occidental paradigm – photo: Margarita Nikitaki


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 it strange when students -young people- are incapable of taking risks. How will we find it if we don’t dare. I wonder if it is a matter of our times. Of course I have no idea.

An additional observation is that I am very fond of 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 starting to learn what actually happened during the Revolution of 1821 and the beginning of the Greek state. It is extremely interesting to reinvent the past and discover how present it is.

Unfortunately History is being repeated, it seems we have learned nothing.

Salos – photo: Margarita Nikitaki