FESTIVALS REBIRTH PERFORMANce IN THE mediterranean
By. Laura Ganotis
In the past few years, Mediterranean countries have been up and coming in the fields of art. They now host a variety of Festivals which attract both European and International artists. Specifically in dance, there has been a wave of ambition. In countries where small initiatives struggle to be born and survive, recent times have witnessed a rise in participation in the arts.
Greece has a strong history of theatergoers from its arena times and maintains this tradition of theater for everyone. At the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, the programing is made accessible to a variety of audiences, offering performances and workshops ranging from dance to theatre and music. Its aim is to promote Greek artists on an international level. This Festival is particularly striking because it is set to happen in the mellow Greek summertime and it takes advantage of the architectural diversity of the city of Athens. Venues include some more recent buildings, such as converted warehouses, as well as some historic sites like the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. It is really powerful to let these otherwise deserted theatres come back to life, fill them with audiences and create an experience of unity.
If the urban landscape is not your idea of the summer, Greece is a source of peaceful retreats, and Festivals have found a home in them as well. Dance Days Chania (Crete), the International Festival of the Aegean (Syros) and the Kalamata International Dance Festival (Kalamata) offer performances and workshops from nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. RootlessRoot, contemporary dance company based in Athens who developed the Fighting Monkey Practice, often teach and perform at the Kalamata Festival.
On the other side of the sea, Italy offers equally rich experiences. The Biennale Danza (Venice) curates for a diverse scene, inviting both national and international artists. The Festival channels the expressions of performers like La Ribot and Robyn Orlin, making the programme a cross-cultural amalgam, open for conversation and controversy.
Hangart Fest (Pesaro), where I had the opportunity to present my own work, while smaller in scale, is quite avant-garde. In the past few years, young people started fleeing Mediterranean countries, a place where they gauged a lack of artistic movement and social involvement. This Festival was curated and enriched by Dance Conservatoire and Fine Art Graduates who studied in London. While the Italian youth was running away, the Festival’s curators decided to lend their passion and knowledge to their hometown. Pesaro, a beautiful historical town of Italy located right by the sea, becomes an inspiring buzzing hub for the locals who might otherwise not have access to art and self-expression.
The list of Festivals taking place in Mediterranean countries is extensive. Tel Aviv, Israel, is one of the many cities that offers a home for the dance scene. Workshops are available with Yasmeen Godder Company as well as Gaga, following the steps of Batsheva Dance Company. While it is not a European city, Tel Aviv has something very familiar of home.
To attend cultural events as part of a holiday trip means to experience the full color palette of the country visited, while finding a sense of World Citizenship. These artistic events bridge the gap between cultural differences, signifying that diversity calls for a celebration of European communities, where there are no cultural borders. It is a wonderful experience with which you will bring back home the flavors and memories of the Mediterranean.
Laura Ganotis, Greek and Italian, grew up in Brussels, Belgium, where she danced her first steps. After graduating from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, she now lives in London. She has performed, choreographed and produced her own work as well as collaborated with other dance artists. She was Production Manager and Performer for BitterSuite, a multi-sensory experience of classical music through all the senses. She is currently working in Production at You Me Bum Bum Train, immersive theatre experience.