Kalamata International Dance Festival, one of the longer lived and most prestigious dance festivals in Greece, has taken place every summer since 1995, placing the small seaside city of Kalamata into the heart of Greek dance events and transforming it into what the festival’s motto calls ‘A land for dance’.
Under the artistic direction of Linda Kapetanea since 2018, the 28th edition of the festival took place from 15 to 24 July 2022, gathering local dance audiences as well as visitors from all over Greece and abroad. The previous two summers, KDF had managed to adapt to the pandemic, becoming one of the few cultural events in Greece that was not cancelled. This year the festival came back in full gear, under the thematic title ‘An ode to beauty’, inviting audiences ‘to realise that Beauty is our only means of resisting everything that we encounter as its polar opposite on a daily basis: All forms of violence, all the actions and declarations that lead to pain and frustration, as well as to the dissolution of our connection with the world around us.’
There was definitely a lot of beauty to be found in the rich programme, presenting 26 performances from 10 different countries, ranging from bigger productions and well-established companies to shorter pieces by emerging artists, while also showcasing recent works by Greek artists of different generations alongside the international works.
Dance in the city
Since 2018, the festival has made consistent efforts to reach wider audiences through inclusive educational workshops and by presenting performances in Kalamata’s public space and in various locations throughout the region of Peloponnese.
Every evening, a diverse audience of local families and passers-by mixed with festival participants to watch short dance pieces and a dance battle on the stage set in the city’s main square. The 14 works by emerging and more established choreographers were fun and vibrant – some might need a more concentrated setting to be fully appreciated, but others managed to get the attention even of the strictest viewers: kids! To mention a few, Elelei company’s Blindly, a game of guessing and acrobatics, set to cheerful music, Fenia Chatzakou & Csenger K. Szabo’s balloon fights and air-somersaults in Still Love, Arias Fernandez play with fire in Us and Barbara Bardaka’s playful cylinder-headed character in The Falling Object were all definite hits for the tiny dance lovers. The magnetic duet that Kapetanea and Edivaldo Ernesto spontaneously presented was also enthusiastically received by festival fans.
Sometimes, a choreographic work can bring to mind specific movies, movie genres or even episode series, employing respective narrative and visual elements: realistic scenography, props and costumes, embodiment of specific character roles by the performers, recognisable songs and melodies and a cinematographic sense of time and narration.