Olia Lidaki, update

Posted on September 26, 2016

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What has changed since the last interview 2 years ago?

last interview here 

The connections between the things I do have become more conscious instead of lead by my unconscious or by free associations. Art does connect to life and I am recently attending to the choices I make -both in my life and in my work. I have attained a more conscious way of being and understanding my choices.

Since our last interview I changed where I live, I am now based in Iraklion Crete and I teach and work with amateurs, people who see dance as their hobby. There is no professional dance scene here in Iraklion: amateurs get together to make dance works and some form dance groups. Since the only available shows here are these amateur dance group performances, the notion that “this is what contemporary dance is” -is gradually establishing itself in the audience’s perception in Iraklion. But these works are very different to professional dancers’ and choreographers’ works. I feel that there are misconceptions shaped and propagated, regarding the differences between amateur and professional work. I also feel like it is my duty to clarify these differences- between making art, being part of a collective, making a dance piece or just performing in public. The sole activity of making and performing does not make one a professional dancer, after-all. Making art or dance is a specific standpoint, also connected to specific choices and education.

I am often invited to participate in collectives which also involve dance. Quite a few of the emerging amateur dance companies are also activist bodies. Personally, I don’t feel the need for art to be explicitly political and connected to current political turmoil. I try to find the balance between inclusion and safeguarding my position as a professional dancer. Within the activist actions involving the amateur dance groups, I feel there is further reinforcement of misconceptions and confusion in people’s minds about what dance is. It seems that at the moment, the prevalent notion of “everybody is an artist’- ultimately leads to issues of recognition or depreciation of artistic value for professional work.

 

Do you consider your work Greek?

It is bound to be Greek since I am Greek and since I live here for the past few years. My work is like me, beyond nationality.

 

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

 Of course there is a Greek dance scene- as long as dance has been here and it is evident historically. Considering characteristics, I could say that a few years ago there were more dance-theatre works being made (Papaioannou, Rigos) while now there are more works with intense physicality (possibly due to Josef and Linda who as dance teachers pass on other influences to students). I feel that performativity and expressiveness is inadequate in recent works. There is no weight given to performance (by weight I mean depth)- as if performers no longer delve into different ways of ‘existing’ onstage. It seems to me that there is a bias towards what is impressive in dancing as opposed to simple, deep, essential and moving dance. Maybe audiences prefer strong images and intense physicality at the moment? Of course, there are exceptions (other kinds of works) shifting the dance landscape- these artists constitute my favoured Greek dance scene. At the same time, I believe that art has no nationality- it is universal. Even the notion of national characteristics- within the current European political context- evokes negative resonances in me. My aforementioned preferences apply also to the more established Belgian dance scene, which has already readily recognisable characteristics. I prefer simple works, with a sense of humour. From what I have seen so far, Greek dance pieces illustrating their national or cultural identity, seemed crude and unrefined to me. I believe that the younger generation of dance audiences anticipates works open to multiple readings, works liberated from our national identity and culture rather than bound to it – works which are not restricted by their nationality- both in expression and perception.

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