The 26th Kalamata Dance Festival: Sold out Performances in Safe Conditions

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Fotis Nikolaou presented TAMATA at the 26th International Kalamata Dance Festival. (Photo: Albert Vidal / Vertex Comunicacio)

KALAMATA, GREECE – With the emblematic performance of Peeping Tom Diptych, sold out performances and strict adherence to safety measures, the 26th International Dance Festival of Kalamata concluded on August 30, during the unprecedented global situation. The Kalamata Festival was one of the few Performing Arts Festivals that took place this year in Greece and indeed in Europe, with international participants, important Greek artists and without changes in the programming that was initially announced.

Dedicated to the memory of Thanos Mikroutsikos - who from the position of Minister of Culture played a key role in the creation of the institution - and adapted to the needs of the day, this year's Festival took place August 21-30 and gathered 64 artists from Greece and abroad in Kalamata, 21 dance groups, 25 volunteers and 41 dance students in vocational seminars. The inaugural TRACES performance of Ultima Vez by Wim Vandekeybus was attended by the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni and the General Secretary of Contemporary Culture Nicholas Yatromanolakis, while the second weekend was attended by the General Secretary of the Interior Michalis Stavrianoudakis.

The cooperation and the continuous communication between the Artistic Director Linda Kapetanea with the Minister of Culture and Sports Mendoni, the General Secretary of Contemporary Culture Yatromanolakis, Kalamata Mayor Athanasios P. Vasilopoulos and “PHARIS” Kalamata Municipality Beneficiary Organization Chairman Pantelis Drougas, led to the most positive results, ensuring the conditions for a safe Festival with important international and Greek artists.

According to Linda Kapetanea: "Whether or not the Festival took place was not an easy decision. I thank the Minister of Culture, the General Secretary of Contemporary Culture, the Mayor of Kalamata, the Chairman and the Board of PHARIS who trusted us, the employees of PHARIS, my collaborators in the Festival, for their hard work and faith in this year's project, and of course the audience that responded so warmly to our invitation. The result justified all. Some Festivals are held not only to promote an art but also to respond to the need of a historical moment. This year's Festival conveyed the message that we must in every way keep alive our relationship with the art of dance based on human contact. This year, we experienced unprecedented situations: dancers took to the stage again after 6 months of absence from the stage while spectators with masks entered and left according to the rules without the possibility of staying in the courtyard, for discussion, for contact… An unprecedented reality that I hope we do not experience again. The most important thing for us is that in these difficult conditions, we saw that the world of art can survive if the right conditions are in place. The tests, the masks, the thermometers, the social distancing, the markings, and the respect for all the measures were the means for us to be able to work.”

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Peeping Tom also appeared at the 26th International Kalamata Dance Festival. Photo: Albert Vidal / Vertex Comunicacio

The primary goal of all this year was to hold a safe Festival, with all the protection measures for the public, the artists and the employees of the Festival. In this context, all health protocols of the Ministry of Culture and the competent health authorities were observed. All the performances took place with seated spectators at 55% capacity, in order to keep social distance, while the use of the mask was mandatory when entering and leaving the space as well as throughout the performance. There was a process in place for taking temperatures and recording of data for tracking, tests were performed on the performers of the dance groups, while the staff of the Festival, with the assistance of the Municipal Police, took special care to maintain the necessary distances to the flow of the public and not create congestion. In the Square, where traditionally the spectators watched performances standing up, a fenced area with chairs was created that welcomed a certain number of seated spectators.

The 21 Greek and foreign productions were presented at the Kalamata Castle Amphitheater, at the Alternative Space of the Kalamata Dance Hall, and at the Central Square of the city. Eleven foreign groups, of which seven appeared for the first time in Greece, 10 Greek groups, great dance teachers, performances that combined different genres - from modern and hip hop to acrobatics and flamenco, were just a few of the highlights.

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The 26th International Kalamata Dance Festival Artistic Director Linda Kapetanea. (Photo: Albert Vidal / Vertex Comunicacio)