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Athens schools "Dancing to Connect"

11 March 2013 / 21:03:04  GRReporter
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Five schools in Athens will participate in the Greek version of the dance project "Dancing to Connect", which is a successful programme applied in 32 countries that aims to bring secondary school pupils together with the help of dancing. The project started in New York in 2006 and it is the result of many years of work in public schools in the American metropolis as stated by the artistic director of the Battery Dance Company group Jonathan Hollander. In his opinion, it is one of the few programmes involving teenagers rather than primary school pupils.

Jonathan and his team have been in Athens for several days now in order to organize the Greek version of the programme, which is a way to provoke the creative skills of young people and encourage them to raise their voice. "At the same time, they learn how to work in a team and to deal with matters about which it is probably difficult for them to speak. Feelings give rise to movements," says Jonathan.

The Battery Dance Company group visited countries in crisis, worked with ethnic groups, which were in conflict with each other and completed the programme in communities marked with a "stigma". "Sometimes words can become real explosive munitions. But when you dance with someone, you cannot be in conflict with that person. You inevitably become close and start to "share" the space and body. The very nature of the movement brings harmony and leaves no room for prejudice and fear."

The results of the performance of the programme are evident from the questionnaires that the participants complete at the beginning and at the end of the programme. This is the most effective and direct way to identify the changes. Jonathan gives as an example a previous project, which involved teenagers from Israel, Palestine and Germany.

The key question was, "Is war the solution to problems?" The atmosphere during the programme changed dramatically. At its end, the positive answers to the question decreased by 30%. Along with this, the sense of distrust among the participants decreased as well.

The project will be implemented in Greece for the first time. In addition to the pupils from five public schools, it involves the U.S. Embassy, ​​the Alexandros Onassis Cultural Centre and the Organization for Culture, Sport and Youth of the Municipality of Athens.

Children aged from 14 to 17 years will attend the seminars. They will prepare along with dancers from the United States and Greece and in 20 hours of intensive rehearsals five original choreographies on topics preferred by them. The programme will end with a performance on the stage of Onassis Foundation on 13 March. The children from the five schools will present their choreographies and the performance will involve the dancers of Battery Dance Company too.

Jonathan Hollander argues that there are no people unable to dance. "Dancing is "closed" in many countries, but it is the simplest expression of the people." The seminars are aimed at strengthening the self-confidence of the participants rather than at providing a field for criticism or achieving perfection.

The programme is very different from the strict and disciplined dance classes such as ballet, where the dancers are required to be of a specific age, to meet specific requirements, to have specific body proportions. "There is nothing like that in "Dancing to Connect". The programme deals with the globality of movement and the connection between people. All prejudices remain behind the door."



Tags: DanceSocietyTeenagersDancing to ConnectBattery Dance CompanyGreek schools
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