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 Post subject: U.S. Debut by Choreftes, From Greece
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 1:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 6883
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
Press Contact and Photos: French Clements
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Becket, MA-Bringing a sense of sweeping theatricality that may be largely
unknown to American dance audiences, the Greek company known as Choreftes
performs its signature work, the epic-in-miniature Behind Her Eyes, in the
Doris Duke Studio Theatre August 17-20. Choreographed by Aliki Kazouri, one
of the group's three main choreographers, Behind Her Eyes features a live
singer and has received praise in the Greek press and elsewhere in Europe
for its lighting, costume, and set designs, which mix the iconoclastic with
the everyday. Executive Director Ella Baff, intent on bringing a strong
international view to the Festival, says "In the U.S., we rarely see dance
from this part of the world. When I saw this evening-length work of
Choreftes, I easily imagined having the U.S. debut of the company at Jacob's
Pillow." The group's performances mark the first time a Greek company has
appeared at Jacob's Pillow, which was recently called "the most prestigious
dance festival in the United States" by Victor Swoboda in the Montreal
Gazette. Given some significant Pillow links to the Greek theatrical
tradition, it's a pairing that is long overdue-and not to be missed. In a
related free event, Choreftes shows selections from their 2006 works
Mikrokosmos and Equilibrium on the Pillow's Inside/Out stage, Wednesday,
August 19 at 6:30pm. For a glimpse of the company's work, watch the season
overview video at

Performance and Ticket Information for Choreftes: Evening performances are
Thursday, August 17 through Saturday, August 19 at 8:15pm, with matinées on
Saturday, August 19 at 2:15pm and Sunday, August 20 at 5pm. Tickets are $24
each, with a 10% discount available for seniors, students, and youth age 13
and under. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at
413.243.0745, faxing orders to 413.243.0749, or ordering online at Jacob's Pillow is located on George Carter Road in
Becket, MA, 10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2. A portion of
this program contains some mature content.

Choreftes (the word, related to "choreography" and "chorus," means "dancers"
in Greek, and is pronounced hor-ef-TESS) was founded in 1993 by Maria
Anthymidou, Aliki Kazouri, and Michalis Nalbantis, whose combined
professional backgrounds span most of the Greek contemporary dance
Nalbantis, whose combined professional backgrounds span most of the Greek
contemporary dance
scene and stints in New York City and Europe. Founded in 1993, the group's
hallmark is a futuristic, dreamlike quality that up-ends conventional
narrative through the use of improvisation and technology. The company's 35
works show a sharp awareness of psychological nuances and are based in its
experiments in improvisation and collaboration. Although viewers may
discern similarities between the Choreftes' work and that of the European
dance-theater pioneer Pina Bausch, their repertory owes something to a much
older tradition, that of the Greek theater, which the company both refutes
and respects. For instance, Greek choruses often made movements to augment
the words they spoke, and these choreographers are aware of such heritage.
Given that the use of text is a 2000-year old part of the Greek culture, the
company uses it only naturally, although of course in Western traditions,
speaking onstage is considered relatively modern. So the company's use of
spoken word contrasts with their deployment of factors newer to the Greek
scene: technology (computers, video cameras, handheld lights), documented
improvisation, and the blowing-apart of traditional compositional
structures. Previous dances have included Pythagoras' Theorem (which, the
company writes, is a composite of "indirect references to the movements of
traditional dances," Snap Republic, Modus Vivendi, and If you are bound to
drown, you never die. The company performs in several major Greek theaters
Greece and has performed in festivals in Portugal, Italy, Venezuela, Russia,
Germany, and Holland.

Choreographed in 2004, Behind Her Eyes is for nine dancers. Created by
Kazouri and noted for its cunning and innovation in Dance Europe, the work
features an original sound score by Stathis Ioannou, along with a cinematic
understanding of light and scenic development. The dancers possess
formidable technique and a finely honed dramatic expression, and that
vibrancy gives the work's intimate vignettes and rousing ensemble passages a
unique sense of propulsion.

Vice President of Choreftes and choreographer of Behind Her Eyes, Aliki
Kazouri was born in Athens, where she studied French literature at Athens
University and pursued dance at Leonidas De Pian's Athens Ballet Center.
After continuing her dance studies in Paris, London and New York, she
performed with a number of Greek companies, including the DePian-Kammer
Athens Ballet Center. She has worked with a number of theaters throughout
Greece. Kazouri has made a total of eleven works for the company.
The artistic director of Choreftes, Michalis Nalbantis studied dance at
Rallou Manou's Professional School. He has collaborated with the National
Theatre of Northern Greece, Haris Mandafounis' Contemporary Dance Company,
the Rambert Dance Company in London, the Greek National Opera, and Sine Qua
A choreographer for the ensemble as well as its president, Maria Anthymidou
was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. After graduating from the Greek State
School of Dance, she received a scholarship from the Alexandros S. Onassis
foundation and continued her studies at the schools of Merce Cunningham,
Paul Taylor and José Limón. She has perfomed with the Contemporary Dance
Company of Haris Mandafounis, Sine Qua Non, Accion Collectiva in Venezuela,
the Wendy Osserman Company, and Rick Merrill. As a choreographer her
collaborators have included the New York Center of Greek Culture and the
National Theatre of Greece.

While this is the first Greek company to perform at the festival, there are
significant links uniting Greece and Jacob's Pillow. In 1939, Pillow
founder Ted Shawn brought Eva Palmer Sikelianou to the Pillow to stage the
first chorus of Aeschylus' The Persians for his company of Men Dancers and
students. Sikelianou was an American who was credited with reviving
classical Greek drama in the ancient theater at Delphi in 1927 along with
her husband, the poet Angelos Sikelianos. The Persians was filmed and
excerpts from the dance were performed as part of the Men Dancers' final
tour in 1940 under the title Excursions into Visible Song. Shawn's love for
the arts of ancient Greece led him to create at least two works which he
performed at the Pillow: Prometheus Bound in 1929 and Kinetic Molpai in
1935. Often regarded as Shawn's greatest work for his Men Dancers, Kinetic
Molpai has been performed as recently as 1992.

Free Events at the Pillow This Week
PillowTalks in Blake's Barn: On Wednesday, August 16 at 5pm, Peter Boal, the
Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, discusses his career and
where his new directorship is taking the company. Saturday, August 19 at
4pm, two performers from different traditions and cultures, Liz Lea and
Livia Vanaver, discuss the pioneering influence of Ruth St. Denis, who made
her New York debut 100 years ago.

Inside/Out performances at 6:30pm: Wednesday, August 16, the group
Choreftes, from Athens, makes its first performances in the United States,
in a Doris Duke Studio Theatre preview. Thursday, August 17, the New York
choreographer Colleen Thomas shows her atmospheric and physically demanding
dances. Friday, August 18, Liz Lea, renowned for her interpretations of the
repertory of Ruth St. Denis, returns from England with her spiritual dances.
Saturday, August 19, in The School's final performance on Inside/Out for the
season, dancers in Jazz program show work from a range of Broadway stars.

Ongoing Free Events include: Ted Shawn First, the first overview exhibition
ever mounted at the Pillow on the Festival's influential founder, in Blake's
Barn; Philip Trager: A Pillow Retrospective, featuring
insightful images from this master of portraiture, in the Ted Shawn Theatre
lobby; Basil Childers, with work from a rising star of the international
dance photography scene, in the Doris Duke Studio Theatre lobby; Picturing
Shawn, a survey of two-dimensional depictions of the man by diverse artists,
in the Reading Room at Blake's Barn; and the latest Highlights of the
Collection, on view in the venerable Bakalar Studio whenever rehearsals and
classes are not in session.


Jacob's Pillow is located in the town of Becket in the Berkshire Hills of
Western Massachusetts. The Pillow was originally the Carter family farm in
the 1700s, and in the 1800s served as a station on the Underground Railroad.
Its pioneering spirit was furthered in 1933, when legendary dancer, teacher,
and choreographer Ted Shawn founded the Festival as a showcase for his
company of Men Dancers and as a home for dance in the U.S.

Jacob's Pillow now encompasses an acclaimed international Festival (the
first and longest-running dance festival in the U.S.), a professional
School, rare and extensive Archives open to the public free of charge, an
Intern Program, year-round Community Programs, and a Creative Development
Residency program. The historic site includes 161 acres, 31 buildings,
three unique stages (including the first theater in the U.S. built
specifically for dance), three dance studios, exhibition spaces,
restaurants, the Pillow Store, residential housing, administrative offices,
a health center, gardens, trails, and woodlands.

The Pillow presents dance from all over the world in all forms, styles, and
traditions, plus approximately 200 free events each season, including
performances, lectures, tours, film showings, exhibits, and talks with
artists from all over the world, which attract approximately 80,000 visitors

Pillow Founder Ted Shawn was instrumental in beginning the careers of Martha
Graham and Jack Cole, and the Pillow has continued this mentoring role by
providing early opportunities to artists such as Alvin Ailey, José Limón,
and Mark Morris. Companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Parsons
Dance Company have been seen at the Pillow for the first time anywhere, and
international groups such as The Royal Danish Ballet and Nederlands Dans
Theater have made their U.S. debuts here. World premieres have been
commissioned from masters such as Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor, and
legendary artists such as Margot Fonteyn and Mikhail Baryshnikov have been
showcased in new works.

In 2003, Jacob's Pillow was declared a National Historic Landmark by the
federal government as "an exceptional cultural venue that holds value for
all Americans." It is the first and only dance entity in the U.S. to
achieve this honor. The Pillow looks forward to celebrating its 75th
anniversary in 2007, and has launched its first endowment campaign, The Fund
for Jacob's Pillow, to help ensure its eminence and longevity for others to
enjoy in years to come.

Major support for Jacob's Pillow, as of April 2006, has been provided by:
The Dana Foundation; The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Francis Alexander
Family Fund; The Harkness Foundation for Dance; The William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation; The Leir Charitable Trusts in memory of Henry J. Leir;
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Evelyn Stefansson
Nef Foundation; The William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation; The
Prospect Hill Foundation; The Ira M. Resnick Foundation; The Ridgefield
Foundation; The Shubert Foundation, Inc.; The Starr Foundation;
Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; National Endowment for the
Arts; U.S. Department of Education; ALEX®; Altria Group, Inc.; American
Express Philanthropic Program, Ameriprise Financial, Inc.; Berkshire Bank
Foundation; Canon, U.S.A., Inc.; TD Banknorth Charitable Foundation; The
Pillow Business Alliance; and Jacob's Pillow Members.

Jacob's Pillow is funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New
England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from Doris Duke
Charitable Foundation. Additional funding provided by The Ford Foundation
and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Major endowment support is provided by The Barrington Foundation, Inc.; The
William Randolph Hearst Foundation; Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state
agency; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Onota Foundation; The Prospect Hill
Foundation; and the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a
collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna
Foundation; and Jacob's Pillow Members.

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