Cyprus and Dance Culture. They’ve been in step together long before Ayia Napa became renowned as the “clubber’s capital of Cyprus” in the 1990s. Their natural rhythm may be traced back to a classical Greek song where Apollo, the god of medicine, music and poetry, was called “The Dancer”.
It’s recorded that a law was passed in the ancient Greek province of Sparta, which obliged parents to teach their children to dance from the age of five. From the earliest times, the whole population of the city would meet in the town centre to offer up thanksgiving, accompanied by hymn-singing and dancing.
In the modern era, the art of dance plays a central role in the island’s cultural life. Visitors to Cyprus seeking authentic luxury experience will soon come across examples of traditional Greek folk dancing. During the summer season they often feature at the various annual wine and grape festivals held in town centres such as, Limassol and Nicosia, as well as the many wine growing villages dotted across the island.
New ideas and experimental concepts
Cyprus is increasingly recognised as a global platform for contemporary dance. Throughout the year, troupes from around the world, particularly Europe, Russia and the Middle East bring their latest productions to a Cyprus theatre. This year is no exception.
Since 1998, The Cyprus Contemporary Dance Festival has been held every year in Limassol and Nicosia, presenting new ideas and experimental concepts from both established and newly-formed companies. By bringing international artists together with local dance groups, creative possibilities may be explored through new collaborations and exchanges.
This year’s festival, which runs throughout June, features works from six countries with a tradition in contemporary dance – Netherlands (11th), France (15th), Italy (22nd), Israel (24th), Greece (28th) and Switzerland (30th), and is co-organised by the Ministry of Education and Culture with the Rialto Theatre, Limassol (where the performances also take place) just 5.2 kms (3.2 miles) west of Londa Hotel.
Exploring the boundaries of physicality
The Festival kicked off at the start of June with Dutch dance group, GOTRA, and the work of choreographer Joost Vrouenraets who explores the unconditional nature of reality and the ability to transform spiritual vision into a physical form. Five women representing different characters in the pursuit of absolute perfection of their own ideals become entangled in a distorted reality. In a series of different scenes, they are challenged to explore the boundaries of their own physicality, and the formal ideal as a visual possibility.
Connection between a man and a woman
French dancers and choreographers, Marie-Claude Pietragalla and Julien Derouault present “Meeting You Was Fate”, a piece concerned with the present, the enduring and the “change of feelings created by their own volatility”. The work explores the connection between a man and a woman, the thoughts over time that reshape their destiny in every moment, and the space left for a “memory of the soul”.
Complexity of responses by all those on stage
Balletto di Roma bring a profound new vision to the traditional story of Giselle, a masterpiece of European classical, romantic ballet in two acts first performed in Paris in 1841. Itamar Serussi Sahar and Chris Haring (founder of Liquid Loft Dance Company) were commissioned to choreograph Act 1 and Act 2 respectively, in which they explore the madness of a young girl betrayed by her lover (Act 1) and the melancholia of her suffering in the underworld (Act 2). Their new choreography explores the complexity of responses by all those on stage. Giselle, herself, serves as a lens through which the audience is invited to observe the world around them.
The 1952 “tragic farce” play, Chairs, by avant-garde “Theatre of the Absurd” writer Eugène Ionesco is given a transformative makeover in the collaborative work of Israeli dance choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak. A place that is ‘nowhere and everywhere’ is created for this comic-tragic encounter between an ‘Old Man’ and ‘Old Woman’, who are frantically preparing chairs for a series of invisible guests coming to hear an orator reveal the Old Man’s shocking “discovery”.
Fragility of human relations
Christos Papadopoulos, a rising star in choreography across Europe poses questions about human nature in “Ion”, a performance exploring the microphysics of motion and their seemingly invisible coordination. An endless complexity of kinetic patterns mirror the boundless universe of human relations.
Ten dancers on stage trace orbits following the organic mechanisms of nature, pulsating, attracting and repulsing. Human powers of observation are tested with imperceptible changes to reveal the fragility of human relations that underpin life and the natural order. Movement interacts with light and sound, both guiding and conversing with the choreography.
Discovering new perspectives
Zurich based Company MAFALDA, present multi-layered worlds, which are both narrative and abstract, and where highly sophisticated dance elements combine with all kinds of theatrical devices. The big questions of life and coexistence, acceptance of loss, diversity and change are explored in poetic images and scenes which are variously funny, whimsical and thoughtful.
Opportunity in diversity is achieved by the joining of forces. Together they succeed in overcoming obstacles and discovering new perspectives, even in the most challenging of situations. The three company dancers tumble their way through colourful episodes and images that draw inspiration from the imaginative and varied stage design, props and, in particular, the costumes.
All works are being performed at the Rialto Theatre, Andrea Drousioti 19, Platia Iroon, 3040 Limassol. Starts at 20:30.