Social and cultural references of the female body

Maria Koliopoulou

16 January 2022


Terrain photo: Angelos Zymaras

What has changed, what are the developments in your work, since the last interview?

Since our last conversation in 2016, the invitations and commissions that were coming in brought a dynamic change in the development of my work. The series of choreographic works [praxis] is concluding, along with new works focusing on mixed groups of both disabled and non-disabled female dancers, as well as on the female body itself: the social and cultural references to it and how it is perceived in the present moment. My choreographic research on the subjectivity of the performing body is evolving also. One of the themes that I am concerned with, is the coupling of different modes of expression and perception, which is at the core of certain works.

In 2016 I was invited by the Ephorate of Greek Antiquities of West Attica Piraeus and Islands to choreograph the opening of the exhibition “Unearthed”. The video that was created from this performance was presented in the exhibition [out]topias at the Benaki Museum. That same year I participated in the common platforms: “blind date” at the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus with artists from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Greece, Spain, Argentina, England. I collaborated with Belgrade Dance Institute teaching choreography and improvisation, in 2017 and also created for Editta Brown Company the work “4only” which premiered in Salzburg and was also presented in Athens at Kinitiras residency. The same year with Syndesmos Chorou (Dance Association) we created “Rapidly becoming” for the Athens Festival. In 2018, I created the work “Terrain” (presented at the Thessaloniki Contemporary Art Centre of the State Museum of Contemporary Art in the context of the International Festival of Contemporary Art, Off Borders Festival, funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports). Terrain was also presented for 8 performances and 5 previews at trii art hub. In 2019 I choreographed for Stopgap dance company, England, the work “Here and where?”. The duet “Instar” that was supported by Amnesty International, premiered on 12 March 2020 just before theatres closed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Instar” was presented again at the Philippi-Kavala Festival and on a rooftop in Athens in 2021. My latest choreographic work “Clear Midnight”, a creation for a mixed group of dancers with disabilities was co-produced with the Athens Festival where it was also presented, in 2021. “Instar” and “Clear Midnight” were both supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sport 2020-2021. During the recent years I have also been collaborating with the Onassis Cultural Centre in the Unlimited Access and iDance programs and currently in the Europe Beyond Access Programme. With its support the choreographic work “C for Clay” was presented as part of Danceable#3, Holland Dance Festival, 2019.

In the present moment, I am in the midst of the research process for “Made”, a project created for dancer Madeleine Månsson and supported by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. In 2021 for two months I was in two artist residencies, at Skånes Dansteater and Dansecentrum Syd in Malmö, Sweden.


Terrain photo: Angelos Zymaras


After a decade of successive crises (economic, social, environmental, health) what changes and developments do you notice have occurred in the contemporary dance scene in Greece and what do you think is missing?

The dance scene in Greece is becoming enriched, renewed and innovative as well as touring abroad and being presented in different spaces and places. It is flourishing.

Still, there is a lack of continuity and consistency in the cultural policy of Greece which has a disincentive effect in the work of artists, as it makes it extremely difficult to continue in their work. What I observed during the pandemic is that the new reality that primarily concerns the use of the internet in research, practice, performance and dance education is becoming established extensively. The rehearsal process itself often becomes hybrid – with dancers in the studio and others on screen. The widespread use of the internet serves to fill in the accessibility gaps and the long-standing demand from disabled artists for access to both performance and education. The other very interesting point concerns the choice of spaces for performing: public spaces within the city itself or the turn/return to nature for research and/or performance.


Instar photo: Nikos Nikopoulos


How might we imagine the landscape of dance in the next ten years?

Taking off. Gaining a connection with its audience, getting into schools, being recognized as the art that it is, establishing a University of Dance, a Dance House, and everything we have been dreaming and claiming for the last 30 years!


Clear midnight