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We celebrate World Dance Day with the excellent dancer-choreographer Anna Athanasiadis

Angeliki Lalou 29/04/2020

And we let her enchant us with her wonderful journey in the art of dance

Apart from dancing what else did you like to do in your quarantine?

I did something that I had missed for a very long time. I rested indefinitely. In recent years, I have been working a lot. I work in the theater, on television, and in the space I have created, without hours, every day, without days off, without holidays. The body gets tired, it is constantly in motion, schedules are tight and obligations fill you with stress. This has been my lifestyle for the last few years. I generally enjoy this professional success, but I really missed physical and mental peace and rest. Quarantine has forced me to remember simple values, like sleeping soundly without an alarm clock, cooking imaginatively, talking to my partner about non-household and responsibilities issues. I cleaned out my closets, in my mind, planted and tended the balcony, talked to a lot of people on the phone, thought about my whole journey so far and organized for the next, as best I can. I walk a lot, and eat a lot.. Haha


How did the idea of ​​free dance lessons via Instagram come about and how long will youcontinue them?

I have contact with all my students, young and old, and with most parents, it is in my nature to become very close to the people I associate with. Talking the first time of confinement with everyone I knew dance would be missing from their lives, basically. Many people have already suggested me to create conditions for a paid lesson, but no existing platform can create ideal conditions for proper dance teaching, and I also consider it possibly unethical to charge money for teaching on camera. Not out of heroism, but because I'm experiencing the same difficult financial situation as everyone else, I don't believe that art courses should have a financial reward at this stage. The idea of ​​live classes through my social networks was born as an easy access to fitness and fun. I will continue the lessons, as long as there is confinement, even as long as my own school remains closed.


What does one need to have to start dancing?

Appetite!! We create some space from the furniture around us and support our mobile or screen well and we start! We wear comfortable clothes and socks and listen carefully to the teacher's instructions to avoid injuries. The process of live dance lessons, we have the freedom to choose when and how many lessons we will do. We can ask something and get an answer on the spot and the best: We can discover types of dance that we haven't tried before, or dance without the inhibitions that may appear to us when we enter a room with classmates, teachers and mirrors!


At what age can a child start and is there an age at which you are considered too old to start dancing?

A child can start dancing in a wider context, from 3-4 years old, depending on the type of dance and his physique. The child must be able to receive the information, process it and assimilate it in his body. Therefore, at a younger age, children should be allowed to express themselves freely by playing music of various rhythms and watching their reactions.

One is never considered too old to start dancing. Again in relation to the type of dance, anything can be started at all ages. The dance has 2 paths, the professional and the amateur. If we choose the professional one then certainly the earlier we start the better, but there are also other factors added, the technique, the facilities, the goals and many other things that must evolve during the years of training and lead us to the highest level of technique in order to we manage to make a living from the profession of a dancer. If we choose the amateur route, the dance begins so we want and set our limits and goals. But always with attention and with the same sensitivity from the teacher. It just works more psychotherapeutically and like exercise than a way of life.


Could dance be the ideal activity for a child with ΔΕΠ-Υ;

Of course. Dance gives sociability and teamwork with deep individual effort. It gives discipline to what we do and focused attention, not in general but specifically, on a part of the body or a particular step. It gives confidence and raises self-esteem, since we are dealing with classmates who have the same concerns as us. Depending on the level of ΔΕΠ-Υ syndrome, a child can coexist in a dance hall, and with the corresponding behavior of the teacher, it can even be greatly relieved. After a dance lesson, the student's energy and excitement has been released. Impulsivity is reduced, since in a dance hall, everyone wears the same, takes the same steps, has specific rules, and therefore is disciplined in a lesson model. In dance class we are not allowed to talk, so our concentration is focused on another goal. The teacher must know the children with such a syndrome to be able to handle the situation accordingly. Take more breaks, reward children's performance. After all, dance is a lesson with a program and specific stages and terminologies that help the child to "program" the teaching within him and make dancing a very fun activity!


Tell us about DanceOnStage

#DanceOnStage by Anna Athanassiadi is the space I thought of and created completely out of the blue and has been running for 2 years now. I never intended to open a dance school because that career path doesn't really express me. I have been a dance teacher for many years, in dance schools, in drama schools, I love children and teenagers, but I had never thought of opening my own place. Choreographer for years in large theaters and on television, in events and in high-level collaborations, I had never imagined such a movement. But one day, of reflection, and from those days when you want to dream something new and create a new project to aim for its implementation, I realized that there was no place where one could find concentrated dance, theater, song and exercise his body too. I have been working in musical theater for many years, among other things, so I saw the need for young people to find something like this in Greece, but also the basic training deficiencies of a performer on stage. Because the lesson is one thing and the stage is another, "he is a good dancer" is another and "he dances with his soul" is another, a good voice is another and its good use is another. So I worked on the idea a bit and started to find a place to house what I came up with. The truth is that my family and partner were very supportive, but I don't think they understood what I meant. You see, there was no financial base, neither from me nor from their help, and honestly now I don't even know how I managed to set up a business from scratch. I think my ignorance and spontaneity were my strongest assets. And so a space was created that is addressed to young and old, to beginners or advanced students, to people who are hobbyists or intend to work professionally. I'm not the only one teaching, while in theory I could do that at the beginning, I wanted to put specialized teachers in each genre. I am lucky for my partners, everyone has a vision and love for their subject and we are also friends, a company. At #DanceOnStage by Anna Athanassiadi, all kinds of dance, acting, vocal and fitness classes are held from morning to night, from Monday to Saturday, in group and private lessons. There are open courses, i.e. courses you can do individually, or closed classes, i.e. specific students in a specified program. One can even take course packages thus shaping one's own schedule according to one's work or life schedule. Registrations take place throughout the year, and of course, covid-19 permitting, we will continue classes until the end of July and again after September. We are located in Kolonaki at Omirou 66 and Anagnostopoulou street and access is easy and with public transport for everyone. One of the successes of #DanceOnStage is that in a very short time it gathered students from all over Attica, with boys and girls of all ages, and of all interests. But the most important success is the common code of communication between students and teachers.


Ποιος ήρωας ή ηρωίδα από δουλειά σας που έχετε χορογραφήσει σκεφτόσασταν περισσότερο στη διάρκεια του lockdown και γιατί;

I think I missed all my partners. I missed the atmosphere of the course and the contact with my students, our rehearsals... I missed everyone I have worked with professionally in the past, I felt as if someone was not letting me enjoy what I had achieved with my work and I remembered you constantly rehearse me from shows and from jobs I've done... I love my job a lot and this deprivation reminded me with how much appetite I have to dive back into it!


What did you miss most during the days of social isolation?

Contact with the world. To want to do something and to know that I am free to do it. To want to go somewhere and know that I can go whenever I want. I think we all re-evaluated some values ​​of "inside"... but also a lot of values ​​of freedom outside that went unnoticed until now... I missed my mother, even though under normal circumstances I wouldn't see her more often. My niece was born in Chania and I wasn't there. I missed dreaming the most. The feeling that you can't know the "after" and plan your life and work, is horror.


Which job do you love the most and why?

I can't tell. In a magical way I love all my jobs, and in a magical way I "forget" them again as soon as they are finished to love the next ones... If I have to choose one, I would choose Mamma Mia at the Acropolis theater. Sold out show for 2 years, toured, many great reviews were written and said about me and my choreography, I got credit from the foreign creators who watched our own show but basically, Mamma Mia was the reason people got to know me more , I had very strong pitches and collaborations because of it and it was kind of like my work in the field was established.


What made you take up dance?

My aunt, Linda Alma, the wife of Manos Katrakis was a dancer, great and well-known in Greece and abroad. My grandmother, Io Theophilou, was one of the first singers in the Mantra of Attic under the name Kitty Alma. I come from an artistic family, and even those who didn't do art professionally, did it amateurishly. It was inevitable that I would also be involved in something artistic. I started dancing at the age of 4, like all the little girls my age did. My mother took me to see a ballet performance, and when it was over, she asked me: "do you want to learn to dance like these girls?" and I immediately said yes. I remember her now like it was yesterday, even though I was too young to remember anything like that. I don't ever remember wanting to do anything different since then. I didn't know I could make a living from it, as a kid I thought I would always just dance. When I began to realize what a career choice meant and that such a thing would follow my life, the decision was quick and clear within me. I had a lot of support from my mother and father, even though they both belonged to completely different professional fields. At 18, I took exams at the Ministry of Culture and entered a higher school, got my degree after 3 years of study, and went out on the "market". I am lucky and grateful that along the way the things that I earn a living from a very young age from what I studied, it was not an easy path and the competition is great. But I did it!


What are your next plans?

I'm planning to expand #DanceOnStage but haven't decided exactly how I want to do that yet. In the theater, unfortunately, due to the situation with the coronavirus, I cannot plan anything, nor do I know if there will be any movement for theater productions next winter, at least for productions that require a choreographer. I really want to put on a professional children's show with my adult students, they are all amazing talents and I have some plans for them.


A dream of yours that you are still chasing?

I want to work abroad. In London specifically. I love their city, their culture, their theater. I want to choreograph a musical there. Grand project, a little maybe impossible in a market that has a lot of qualified personnel but it will never stop being a dream of mine.


What does "dance" mean to you?

Dance is expression and explosion for me. Dance is my daily routine and my way of life. I am constantly moving, I need to move, to be in contact with people. Dancers have a different sense of the space around us. We are encroaching and redefining our personal space, something that is not perceived by the rest of the world, but for us it is very clear. Dance makes you consciously deeply lonely but at the same time very communicative and this is also the reason that makes you create and liberate yourself through it. Dance is an Art that if you let yourself go, it reflects what you want to say and you don't dare. You can really talk and communicate with dance.


What will be the first thing you do once the quarantine is over?

Diet!!! This is definitely a first. For the rest I have reservations!!


Call me!