The summer dance festival in Limassol will be held over the coming days. All performances are both free of charge and site specific says ALIX NORMAN
We may be moving into the somnolent summer months, where the temperature soars and afternoon siestas are the rule, but that doesn’t mean there’s a dearth of events for all you culture vultures out there. Come the cool of the evening, there are still plenty of performances, presentations and recitals to satisfy even the most discerning of audience members. And if you’re a Limassol local – or willing to brave the motorway – you’ve a treat in store with the upcoming Summer Dance Festival, which starts today and runs until July 27.
Organised by the New Movement of Dance Companies, Dancers and Choreographers of Cyprus, this is a contemporary dance festival with a difference: it’s site specific. “Each of the nine choreographers involved has chosen a different location around the old city,” says Chloe Melidou, president of New Movement and herself a renowned choreographer and dancer. With three performances each night – 27 in total – the audience will have the opportunity to walk through the winding streets of the old town from one performance to the next.
Unlike a traditional theatrical venue, there are many advantages to performances that are site specific. “The audience will be able to follow each choreographer’s point of view in relation to the space,” Chloe explains. “The front is constantly changing, and the viewer can experience each piece from any angle they choose. With the audience already in the same space as the dancer, each performance becomes far more interactive than it would be in a theatre. You’re not sitting and watching from a static point of view, a chair 10 metres from the stage – you are fully involved, completely connected to each performance.”
The idea is to fully engage the audience, both in terms of perspective and route as they follow the performances through the old city. To aid the viewer’s understanding of the process, each will be given a programme containing information on the pieces and locations, an explanation of the chorographical inspiration and – most importantly – a map. “In this way, one can choose exactly which performances one wants to see,” Chloe explains, adding “you can make your own schedule and choose your own pathway through the city, from one location to the next.”
And the locations themselves are far from standard: with this year’s theme being ‘Victims of the Crisis – Abandoned Places’, each of the nine choreographers has accessed a world of inspiration and imagination in choosing their venue and developing their piece. “Everywhere you look there are empty spaces,” says Chloe. “Small businesses, abandoned areas, deserted shops that remind us of the financial crisis…
“As choreographers and artists, we searched for our city centre venues in terms of understanding that these spaces are victims of the crisis,” she continues. Drawing inspiration from these neglected places, the choreographers have allowed their pieces to evolve in conjunction with their chosen sites: “When I go into a site specific place, I leave after every rehearsal with more and more ideas. Each space feeds us new ideas and new inspiration – it’s a process of evolution – and, as choreographers, we have some of our best moments as artists in this festival.”
Chloe mentions that her preferred venue is a hidden courtyard, concealed down a tiny lane and easily overlooked among the surrounding buildings. “Unless you deliberately walk into the space, you miss it,” she says, detailing the square’s hidden beauty – the juxtaposition of modern and ancient walls enclosing the space, the rusted windows and lowly tree which draw the eye to the sky so far above. “And with my performance I’ve tried to parallel this slow realisation that one is not imprisoned within this space, but is rather outside, in the open, and part of something much bigger.”
Organised every July since 2004, the Summer Dance Festival has become an institution in Cyprus, a platform which, each year, brings together choreographers, artists and audiences from all over the island in a celebration of contemporary dance. As the audience follows the performances, they will find themselves surprised and enchanted by the pieces which have evolved in conjunction with their surroundings. “Although you may have seen the space before, the performances challenge you to look at the site in a different way. This same thing happens to us as choreographers – and through the process and improvisation we end up with things we could never have imagined,” Chloe concludes. “The audience will be able to embrace the chance to follow this journey, and allow themselves to experience all that the performance is giving.”
10th Summer Dance Festival
July 21 to July 27, featuring work by: Asomates Dynameis: Machi Demetriadou Lindahl, Chorotheatro Omada Pende – Chloe Melidou, Aelion – Fotini Perdikaki, ARttitude – Evie Panayiotou, Elena Antoniou, Ariana Marcoulides, Milena Ugren-Koulas, Echo Arts – Ariana Economou, Demmie Da Costa
All performances are free of charge. For further information: www.neakinisidance.com.cy, [email protected] or call 77 77 25 52