Elpida Orfanidou, update

Posted on September 26, 2016

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What has changed since the last interview 2 years ago?

last interview here 

In October 2013, an event changed my personal life and my work. My mother was ill and I returned to Greece to be close to her. During this time I did not do anything professionally. Three months later she passed away and something changed in me: I wanted to spend more time in Greece, although there was nothing much going on professionally for me here. It also changed how I want to work and how I want to be with the people I work. I changed my priorities and the relationship with people who fund or produce projects, I stopped endlessly sending applications, I started writing in a more direct way instead of writing what would be ‘liked’ or accepted. I chose to spend less effort in trying to be ‘interesting’ and just speak my mind concisely and briefly. I also started to think of projects-on the fringes of artistic work-which don’t necessarily become products. As a person, I like doing things in a scattered, and chaotic way, and I decided to accept this and go with it. I thought that this trait of mine, this way could become my new method. Instead of spending the usual condensed and focused time in the studio intensely creating material for two consecutive months, I decided to create a space in my house and work for two hours everyday, on whatever interests me. In this way my work gradually became part of my everyday life, rather than an exception of a really intense period – as it usually happens during residencies (working 6 days a week, 8 hours a day). This new way of working is how I want to develop my solo work.

As far as collaborations go, something has changed already, as we were lead effortlessly into a new ambience, a new way of working, very different from production driven rehearsals. This happened on its own and evolved naturally. In 2013 I created ‘Elpid’arc’ and then I started working on a project ‘(To) Come and See’ with Simone Truong, with whom we also studied together. We continue with this project as group work. Simone Truong (the initiator) would go to each performer’s city and work with each person individually. Then, we all met Simone Truong, Eilit Marom, Adina Secretan, Anna Massoni, and myself and worked together towards the creation of a group piece. Simone is based in Zurich and she chose to work with four women. She worked individually for 3 weeks in each city (Paris, Athens, Lausanne, Israel/Amsterdam, Zurich) and finally we will meet to work for 2,5 months all together. It is a collective project dealing with eroticism, but in the sense of the un-canning or mysterious and it is an all female project.

I also worked on another project organised similarly. A Singapore artist had the idea to invite 5 choreographers from the countries of crisis- Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland for a project titled ‘PIIGS 2014’. We were asked to create something in which we present ourselves and our artistic approach in relation to our country. During this research, I realised that I have a lot of Greek elements in me… So since the project’s idea came from the crisis, instead of representing something, I decided to create a crisis within the project (a crisis of who is who, of where are we going etc.). This ‘crisis’ I created, came from my own personal interest in creating chaotic situations, in which the only order is disorder. I found that this expresses me on a personal level, and can also be connected to Greece’s current situation. In my view, there is a positive side to a crisis: it can potentially help you begin a process of reconsidering who you are, of what your role/ your part is in all this and to engage in constructive criticism. Moreover, if you feel you are missing a specific frame or rules, you embark in clarifying or define these. I find all these very interesting.

Another change of the past two years is the ongoing project of my own work on myself, in which I want to include my pharmacy studies somehow. So this summer, I worked at a pharmacy for the first time. I now spend a lot of time in Greece.

 

Do you consider your work Greek?

 Although it is not Greek, it is Greek- in the sense that I like freedom and Greeks like being free too. Greeks don’t like to be placed in a rigid frame, while at the same time they wish it too, they go from one extreme to the another-there is definitely a paradox there. These are elements that express the way I feel too: my relationship to chaos and revolution, my tendency to be reactive, the will to resist to established norms and the desire to change them. On the social front during the recent years, there hasn’t been ‘enough’ reaction in Greece- considering what has been going on. When/how did the Modern Greek mentality form? That is the question….

During the PIIGS 2014 project,  Igor Dobričić came to watch the show and during his feedback he mentioned he felt really connected to the Greek element of resourcefulness-the skill of improvising solutions to any problem. Greeks do have this creativity possibly because the state is not there to support you or assist you. You have to become competent, since you are on your own- so you improvise and come up with solutions- it is a very interesting characteristic. It comes from Mitida, one the female titans. Metis was in a Greek mythology one of the Titans, female one, you could say Titaness. She was older than Greek gods. She was the first one that Zeus took as a spouse because she was holding in her hands the most important skill – the one that combine cunning and wisdom. Later on Metis became more general expression used to signify particular ability to improvise solution to a problem; elegantly and with immediate intuitive mastery of the situation. Athenians were proud that have a lot of Metis. Closest modern translation in English would be characterisation of somebody being “crafty”. In classical literature this expression was often attached to Odysseus and furthermore to Athenians – like in crafty Odysseus, crafty Athenians. But  word crafty is  pure substitute  for a complex, profound etymology of the term Metis…

 

Is there a Greek dance scene, do you recognise specific characteristics?

I have not seen enough, but I do have an impression that there is a particular focus on intense physicality. I think there is a lot of interest from abroad at the moment, focusing on Greece, but I don’t think there is any particular style characterised as Greek ( as there is for cinema – Greek weird cinema). I don’t think there is something connecting all the choreographers’ work, although I should see more in order to be precise. It seems to me, that particular importance is given to technique and to emotional expressiveness or theatricality (maybe this comes from our culture of ancient drama). Saying that, in cinema which I mentioned before, expression is very different. Using Greek music, or songs and traditional dances, are direct links to Greek-ness, but in order to create a Greek dance scene you need more than content. Developing a sense of a scene, is much more than ‘I was inspired by this or that ancient tragedy’, a potential Greek style would be unrelated to content. Representing something Greek and being Greek are two very different things, which was my revelation during the ‘PIIGS 2014’ project. I am not a fan of representation anyway, so that is why I decided to investigate the Greek way of things, without representing anything. I think it would be really interesting, if a Greek style developed out of the Greek way of things. In this country there has always been a lot(if not too much) activity: ports, ships, commerce, the east /west dilemma, crises- it is a harsh everyday life to live but it gives you plenty of motivation and materials in order to create.

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