Iris Karayan, update

Posted on September 26, 2016


What has changed since the last interview 2 years ago?

 last interview here

I created a new piece the trio “Tracing” produced by and presented at the Athens Festival. The process in “Tracing” was connected to the previous work “Mothers” whilst attempting at a more open approach. I experimented with a new way of working-which increasingly tends towards improvisation-using open structures, which is where I want to go next.

I need things to be more in the present moment, for things to happen right here, right now. In order to develop this type of works, we need much more time in creation. We need to train and educate ourselves in dealing with such works in how to create and perform them. It is a skill to distance yourself from something that happened, while something else is happening right now and keeping all this within a specific context and intrinsic rules.


I toured with “Mothers” in France, Sweden (4 cities), Denmark, Italy and Sarajevo. Compared to other trips abroad, this was a really nice tour- lots of people saw the work, we had discussions with the audience, the work itself opened up and developed further. It is beautiful to see the work grow, live on and happening. A transition from the sheltered environment of working with the dancers during rehearsals, to the work liberated during the tour, existing on its own. As a choreographer, I also establish a new relationship to the work. You enter different spaces- yes, it is your work, you have choreographed it, designed it, conceived it- but this new relationship evolving with the work, takes it to another level, opens up to multiple directions.

I also worked on several projects with Syndesmos Chorou (coalision of seven choreographers) and on a project with visually impaired people at the Onassis Cultural Centre. The Syndesmos Chorou projects were workshops leading to a creation and presentation with a mixed group amateurs and professionals. On the one hand, it was challenging to deal with a mixed group and within limited time, but on the other hand it gave me the freedom to experiment and try out things. I got a chance to see how my ideas can assume form and structure, despite the short duration of the project. I could not work on a deep level but on a concept and its direct application. This applied for all three projects we did with Syndesmos Chorou: ‘Dancing with the others’ (7+1) at Kakoyiannis Foundation, ‘On the road’ at Kalamata International dance festival and Domino 2 at Kinitiras Studio.

The project with the visually impaired at Onassis Cultural centre was also challenging. I worked with amateurs and professionals, visually impaired and not. We had to create a production, which was to be presented at the main stage, and had to deal with the expectations that come with it for a premium, polished result. It was an amazing experience both due to this specific group of people that enrolled for the project (some of which with different levels of disability) and due to the way we worked together. The impressive thing for me was, that even within the constraints of the project, the outcome was and felt really just like my own work. I didn’t do something else than what I do just because of working with this group of people. The end product had my own particular identity, just like the shows I create with professional dancers working for 3 months full time. The elements of exhaustion and persistence which underline my work were still there, while this specific group of people performed it in a way which was not just about amplifying the energy level but by pouring their souls into the work.

We also continued with the Untitled series of Collective Choreography Project creating the solos Untitled #3 and #4.

On the whole, what has changed in the past 2 years is that I am looking for new ways of working. I want something to change in my work, in how it is done and in the way I teach. I am shifting towards an unknown direction.


If it would be possible- my current wish would be to go back to studying, getting more knowledge. I have an intense need for more input, more research, more learning and investigating- a need not to settle with what I already know, with whatever tools I already have. I might be thinking of creating a piece only with amateurs or non-dancers or a piece outside the theatre stage or making something which is not dance. I need some change, some shift, I need to displace myself from the landscape in which I am at the moment. And a shift is always better because it is always (an)other.


Do you consider your work Greek?

It is Greek because it is being produced in Greece (Greek bred!). It is created within this time and space continuum which is Greece. The work, or the subject can be universal or european or anything else, but it never ceases to belong to fact it is a product created within this specific time and place, which is Greece now.



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

Whether there is one… Which/who represents the Greek dance scene, is a current concern. Festivals and festival programmers are trying to create it. There is a new share of the dance market allocated to Greek work. It is recently done with ‘focus on greece’ curated festivals in which some Greek artists or Greek works are invited-building a notion or an assumption that what you see in this festival, is what is actually happening in Greece artistically at the moment. It is not at all an accurate picture, it is rather a constructed one. There are many other artists in Greece, that have been here making work and they still are. There is a manufactured depiction of «Greece» at work within the dance industry, currently.

There is no infrastructure in Greece, in order to enter into a discussion about a Greek dance scene at the moment. There isn’t enough theoretical or critical thinking on dance, in direct contrast to other European countries. Due to this lack, there is not enough feedback or support to enter into a discourse regarding the Greek dance scene. In order to create a dance scene, you need a network, infrastructure and resources. For example in France, where undeniably there is a French dance scene, it is as a result of the totality of infrastructures available. They offer the space and time to Dance, there is an artistic policy and an ongoing dialogue on contemporary dance also on theoretical level. All the above create and support the French dance scene.

In Greece, there are only a few theorists and the infrastructure is rather feable. There is MIR festival, the festival of new choreographers and a few productions by the Onassis Cultural centre and the Kalamata international dance festival (although they do not engage in dialogue). Onassis Cultural Centre organises talks with the choreographers and offers workshops with dance makers, MIR festival creates work opportunities and collaborations with other european dance centres and NEON offers production money. All of the above are independent entities though, these (interested in dance) organisations are not connected between them in any way- like in other countries. There are also some other initiatives which also occur independent of each other, such as a dance conference or workshops- discussions on dance. Still, these are ‘islands’ of isolated events, they do stir things up a bit, in the hope that something changes for the better.

Regarding identifying Greek characteristics, there are some artists using Greek elements like music or traditional dances in their work for instance Patricia Apergi-Aerites and Ki omos Kinite. As a foreigner, you can easily identify these as Greek dance. I think Patricia uses her own definition of urban street dance, which offers a specific identity to her work. She is interested in the urban landscape, as it is connected to the current sociopolitical conditions and her work is seen as emanating from the Greek urban crisis and hence recognized as Greek.

The other deficit in Greek infrastructures is what is offered in terms of dance education, especially at the university level.

To summarize, I believe that the Greek dance scene is everything that is created in Greece, in contemporary dance. For example the work of Kat Valastur (aka Katerina Papageorgiou) is not part of the Greek dance scene, although it is communicated as such. She lives is Berlin and is part of the German dance mechanism. I would say that belonging to the Greek dance scene, is irrelevant to nationality or where you come from. Adonis Foniadakis is part of the Greek dance scene(?) but also of so many other scenes in Europe since he works internationally. Lenio Kaklea is part of the French dance scene, Zoe Dimitriou is not part of the Greek dance scene according to how I see it- despite the fact that she is Greek, she is based in the U.K. I believe that the scene you belong is related to which dance mechanism you are in, or the place you live and create.

Thank you.