By: Natasha Chanta-Martin
There has recently been a global shout out to Greeks and the new Greek government. International media claim that the big twist from 40years of family-tree-driven governors to a left wing, young, independent president will make outstanding differences in Greece’s economy, human rights, education etc. Domestic news are bombarded with quotes from the new Ministers and their over-ambitious statements on how they will change our lives for the better: minimum wage will increase, second generation immigrants will finally get citizenship, the school system will change, unaccompanied youth criminals will be monitored by sociologists, each of these statements relating to their own ministry. However, the Ministry of Culture is completely ignored in media and in reality. Not a word has been said about the arts and culture sector of a country which has been declared as the “cradle” of “civilization”. So, what happens to all the dancers, musicians, actors, painters and all the other artists who have been struggling for decades and decades trying to make a living through their art? How can a country prosper in all possible ways when attention (not to mention funding) is not given to one of the most vital and important parts of everyone’s life and education? ART! Having studied at Choreomundus, this introduction seems necessary, because once again the Artist is neglected, and creeps up to the anthropologist’s lap for comfort.
Although (almost) every artist in Greece struggles financially for his/her personal productions, projects, performances and promotion, one specific individual has attempted the outspoken: to create an international festival of experimental percussive dance! One would think that it is a crazy idea trying to do something like this in Greece. Who will attend? Who can afford it? Who will fund it?
Coetáni Experimental Flamenco Festival took place in Athens a day after national elections. It was a 5day intensive festival that consisted of classes, performances, viewings, and discussions. Not only did it take place in Greece, it also experimented with a widely recognised traditional art form, Flamenco. Although, in performance contexts Flamenco has grown tremendously and is experimenting in various directions, Coetáni still is one of a kind for a class-based international festival. Classes included: flamenco dancing for the camera, flamenco couple dancing and more, and the teachers were highly established flamenco performers, such as Leonor Leal, Félix Vásquez, Chloé Brûlé, Marco Varga, who experiment with their art form in different ways. Guest artists included dancers from Canada, Greece, and Austria.
As I have mentioned in my previous Dance Diary, I am one of the founders and organisers of the Athens Tap Jams, another series of community-based events of percussive dance which does not receive any external funding. In a much smaller scale I do relate to what the organiser of Coetáni is going through, and I, therefore, have decided to write this post. Last Tuesday the Athens Tap Jam community hosted a fundraising Tap Jam to help and show its support to Coetáni Experimental Flamenco Festival. Tap dancers, singers, flamenco artists and jazz musicians all jammed together and experimented with their arts, their bodies, their shoes. ATJ is an official sponsor of Coetáni and the money raised at the JAM was added to the festival’s Indiegogo Campaign which you can find here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/coetani-experimental-flamenco-festival.
Coetáni wants to transform Flamenco dancing in Greece, give it another twist, look at it from another angle, EXPERIMENT with it; ‘just like the new government is doing with Greece’, an international news anchor might say! In order for Coetáni to become an annual gathering of important people and flamenco enthusiasts who are willing to experiment, and since it cannot find any domestic funding, it has to look into international funding organisations. In order for its audiovisual promotion to convince outsiders, Coetáni has sought help through crowdfunding in order to create a documentary film of the first ever international experimental flamenco festival in Greece. In support of dance, percussive arts, experimental arts and inaugural brave attempts, I urge you to take a close look at this campaign and to contribute in any way you can.
In dance we trust, because EARTH, without ART is just ‘EH’.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.