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Anna Athanasiadis "Dance is a need that is constantly growing in me"

 

Anna Athanasiadis, you think she dances and choreographs everywhere and always. Even her simplest everyday movements, such as driving, walking, styling her hair or holding a file, have a dance look in them. You will never see her sitting without moving at least one part of her body in rhythm. It's as if dance flows in her blood and she is carried away. Even the way he speaks to you most of the time has an optimistic dance rhythm that makes you want to move, whether you want to or not. If the dance was female it would have her name. Always optimistic and with a cheerful smile, she wins you over from the start. And once he wins you over, he's one of those people you love forever.

 

Anna Athanasiadis is the choreographer of the most successful musicals staged in recent years on the Athenian theater stages, she has collaborated with well-known directors such as Reppas-Papathanasiou, Valaris-Papadopoulos, Vafiadis, and in recent years with Themida Marcellou whom she now considers her friend. "Mama Mia", "Annie", "Charlie Chaplin", "The Adams Family", "Melody of Happiness", "Jesus Christ Superstar" are just some of the shows she choreographed with great success. He has also collaborated in performances with big names of the music scene, such as Despina Vandi and Michalis Hatzigiannis as well as Isaias Matiamba and Ivi Adamou.

What is dance for you, when did you realize that you would work professionally with it and what did you gain or lose from it?

I grew up with dance and through it I learned to express myself, to discipline, to respect, to discover, to evolve. I live from dance, artistically and for a living. It is a need that is constantly growing in me. I also started as a child who was written by his parents to do ballet, but in my case the matter did not stop there. First it was another extracurricular activity on the weekly schedule, then it became a habit, then a love, and now a way of life, I don't think I could do anything else in my life.

How would you describe your first steps in the field, was there someone or something that discouraged you or helped you a lot?

At first it was difficult. While you are studying, you don't realize the difficulty of finding a job afterwards, you don't easily cover the need to dance where you imagined, you are forced to change your priorities, the livelihood pressures you. This stage is discouraging and in many cases deterrent. You have to have a lot of strength and will to overcome it. And then you can take matters into your own hands, define them more and better manage them for you. I am very lucky that this stage for me was short-lived. Then luckily I started to be able to choose the path my career would take.

It is a great satisfaction to be able to study what you love, to work on what you love, and of course to be able to live what you love. There were people who tried to discourage me but after years I divide them into two categories. The first is those who tried in various ways to persuade me and succeeded, and the second is those who are no longer worth dealing with because they did what they did and I am very happy to refute them. My parents have always been supportive, by my side in essence and discreet at the same time, my family, many colleagues and friends and my partner, who has now lived a very large part of this journey.

You have very artistic roots. Your grandmother was Kitty Alma, an actress in the Mantra of Attic, and Linda Alma, a famous dancer and wife of Manos Katrakis. Would you like to share with us something about these people who were symbols of an era?

I didn't get to meet Manos. So all I have from him is a picture of him holding me in his arms and I'm 1 year old.. I got to know him through the stories and love of the rest of my family, and especially from my aunt Linda Alma. Linda was a role model for me. It was the reason I started dancing, it was the reason I found myself in the State school, it was the reason I continued my studies at a professional level even though it had "left" then. She was successful in her work, indisputably the best dancer of her time, feminine in her life, chic and fragile at the same time, that I always remember her laughing, she made fun of everything.. I envied her career, I envied the international tours she had done with her partner Yannis Fleury, that Edith Piaf herself had invited her to France to dance and shared her dressing room with them, and so much more. Growing up I often wonder if she were alive if she would be proud of my steps, and if I look like an artist to her. My grandmother, Kitty Alma, Linda's sister, my grandmother Eo, was a different case... she left the Attic paddock and the theater the moment she "came up" to start a family. I lived with her, we lived together in Pagrati for some time. It's nice living with grandma as an adult.. especially with this one who was proud of everything I did, gave me advice and gave me her opinion, was happy to tell me her own stories and lived my own experiences as her own . It was somehow gaining strength that I was moving forward.

 Anna, tell us a little about your collaboration with the great director Themida Marcelou?

Themis is the reason I became a choreographer. I always wanted to be, that was my goal, but she made me the first proposal, she entrusted me with my first big job, the musical Annie. It is a great honor for me that she trusts me and works with her. I don't think there is any other director who combines such knowledge about musical theater, being a musician and an actress herself, and finally making one commercial success after another. At a time when everything is facing a major crisis, in a theatrical Athens where millions of shows are staged and unfortunately not always good ones, it is important that a knowledgeable and successful person wants to work with you and wants to develop you with love and respect.

You have choreographed some of the most successful musicals of recent years and have collaborated with well-known names of both actors and singers. Who have you become closest with and is there anything funny or weird that happened during rehearsals or performances?

Through my collaborations so far, I get to know the contributors from their human side. I see their weaknesses, their anxieties, their ambitions, I discover their character in general, and especially when I get closer to them and on a friendly level. I don't have anything negative to remember, apart from a bad moment of misunderstanding, and I generally remember myself always laughing at work. Preparing a performance is a creative and enjoyable process. As an incident, I will mention something I experienced with Michalis Reppas, a few years ago. I am invited to his house to discuss our upcoming collaboration and of course to "read" the text to me. In our language this means that the text is read by the actors who will play it, nothing special, a simple reading of the play... But here the case is different, Michalis started playing all the roles, literally everyone, with a different each way. He would get up, play, add color and intensity to his speech. I could see the finished form of each role, punctuated, accented and actually "played" like a performance! I think that night I hadn't stopped laughing..

Do you really feel more like a dancer or a choreographer?

I am a choreographer, I create. As long as I danced, I always created a situation, a condition, a role. In my mind I always had the need to make a story while I danced. I was much more interested in the expression and what the audience received during a choreography than the technique and skill with which I danced. I wasn't struggling on stage for a difficult move. This was happening effortlessly and I was concerned about what this movement was emitting. I think I really miss dancing but I balance it with how much choreography fills me up.

What is your relationship with love? Do you believe in its power?

What to say about love, the artist cannot live without love around him. As a woman but also as an artist, I need love, appreciation, acceptance from my partner. I've been with the same person for years, I don't like change. He belongs to the same professional field, he understands and respects me, he puts up with my worries, my hours and my complaints. I try to cover the same for him, and it's nice in such an unstable profession, to have a constant in your personal life, to calm you down and recharge you...

What are your new plans for the following season?

The next season is coming very strongly. I will originally choreograph the musical Matilda at the Acropolis theater and the new show by Tony Sphinos. I am also making a very big start by opening my dance school in Kolonaki. An idea from my friend sparked a thought for a space where anyone, amateur or professional, young or old, can learn to dance or sing and act or exercise through classes based on the performing arts. The school is called #DanceOnStage by Anna Athanassiadi and it will be fully operational from September 2018. I am very happy with this step of mine and I also feel very lucky to have people around me who have really supported it, as for the teachers and partners of the school, all of whom are renowned in their field and above all people with morals and love for their subject.

And of course, if someone is wondering how he will manage all this in a single winter, then he probably doesn't know very well the hyperactive person who goes by the name of Anna Athanasiadis. What is certain is that we will continue for many years to see her create beautiful works always based on dance and movement. Her school, on the other hand, I have the impression that it will soon become a point of reference for the artistic field and not only. I wish her the best in whatever she does and she deserves it, because apart from being a talented person she is also a good soul. Little to tell you that after finishing the interview with her, the dance already became one of my next plans...

© 2018, Elena Goula. All rights reserved. No copying permitted without permission from athensvibe.gr

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