Seeing Stefanos Dimoulas dance leaves you speechless. The way he moves on stage grabs you even if you have never had contact with ballet. When Stefanos dances, you feel that he is in his natural habitat, where he is meant to be. It is obvious that he owns his art, dancing, but it's not just that which captivates viewers. It is also the passion that overflows from every movement, every expression of the young dancer from Volos who began to pursue his dream at the age of fifteen and ten years later has gained international fame in the difficult world of the arts. We thank him for honoring with this interview.
The National Herald: What does dancing mean to you and when did you first feel like you wanted to be a dancer?
Stefanos Dimoulas: For me, the Dance Is my child. It is a growing organism and I watch it developing according to my own principles, ideals, and artistic dignity. Just as a good parent sacrifices everything for his child, so I sacrifice everything for mine – money, time, entertainment, sleep, relationships.
After much thought and contemplation, I decided that what I really needed to do was learn how to do it right. I was four years old when I asked my parents to do ballet, something unique for such a young boy. So I believed that I had to chase this innate, natural inclination of mine, work at it, and follow it wherever it takes me. If I didn't succeed, at least I would have been at peace with myself.
TNH: How hard is the daily life of a dancer on your level? What are the daily sacrifices you make?
SD: By and large, the daily life of a true professional dancer is full of contradictions. Personally, being a freelancer in my field, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen finding new professional opportunities, organizing my files, and arranging meetings. I try to exercise daily either in the gym or at ballet lessons –despite what they say about the attention of dancers pay to their diet, I often eat my dessert.
Idleness is the greatest challenge. There are always days when opportunities are scarce and that's when the game of how much you can handle being in this life plays out. But I always find ways to be productive and not lose my commitment.
TNH: What was the most moving moment of your career?
SD: Three minutes before I went on stage at the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, last summer. Of course, it was an honor to be featured there as a soloist, but before the curtain parted for my appearance, I thought about how that little boy from a provincial town in Greece is now in a glorious theater with thousands of spectators ready to dance with the spotlight following him. What a moment!
TNH: If you had to give a single piece of advice to a young dancer, what would it be?
SD: You can't succeed without the risk of failure, just as you can't fall in love without the risk of loss. Everyone must find his own path through this vast landscape of dance, and that is where his magic lies. From one day to the next you may find yourself in a role that you never imagined you would have been able to gain. There is no other way to succeed than constant effort, dedication, and hard work. And don't expect anything from other people.
TNH: How is the life of an artist in the era of quarantine? What is the biggest challenge you have to face?
SD: The life of an artist in the era of quarantine is just like the rest of his life: lack of work, plenty of time on his hands, confinement at home. Nevertheless, many of my colleagues are using the internet to teach lessons, give lectures, and present their art digitally. Personally, I have turned this volatile situation into a productive and creative time. I organize, read, attend online courses for many different subjects such as business marketing or ‘digital transformation’, and make new plans and designs with artistic integrity.
TNH: Do you think that from now on something will change in the way the audience experiences its contact with art or artists?
SD: The audience has always been supportive of art and artists. They love free expression and see themselves in it. The point is to change the way the state treats art and artists. It bothers me to learn that the Greek state at this difficult time does not recognize the professional existence of artists and does not support them materially the way it does for other professionals. However, the biggest thorn in the side of dance in Greece is, I believe, the state and institutional weaknesses. Art studies in Greece have become devalued by the state bodies themselves since the degrees of dancers have been lowered institutionally and practically, labelled ‘Higher Learning’ instead of ‘Highest Learning’. Thus they are hired at the level of high school graduates with the corresponding humiliating salaries, minimal rights, and limited opportunities.
Imagine yourselves being without music, movies, theatrical productions, and books during this period of quarantine. We need artists so much!