Yannis Mantzis and the poetics of resistance

Part of a man’s strength is in his hands. With them, man was able to create, but also to destroy. In fact, he made his own destiny himself or with the help of the collective. Reflect on it hands upchoreographed by the Greek choreographer Yiannis Mantzis, the latest premiere that Danza Contemporánea de Cuba (DCC) is presenting these days at the Avellaneda Hall of the Cuban National Theatre.

The new sentence is part of the program that completes the work. Dust, words, shadows, nothingCuban George Cespedes, who will take the stage on April 28, 29 and 30, to the delight of the public, which is still shocked by the novelty of the meeting with the poetics of the movement proposed by Mantsis, a creator who dared to leave the Greek region for the first time to land in the Greater Antilles with a work which will not leave anyone indifferent.

hands up This is a mature proposal, the result of the master classes that the Greek creator held with the dancers of the group under the guidance of maestro Miguel Iglesias, fragments of which we were able to see during the last Alicia Alonso International Ballet Festival. Havana, a pattern predicting an intoxicating experience. For 40 minutes, the movements of the dancers are mixed with the lyricism of their hands, which also tells us about the poetics of resistance, about collective construction, which begins with individual work.

Jr recently approached the headquarters of Cuban Contemporary Dance and learned the details of the proposal in a dialogue with the creator, who, as he assures, feels the Cuban troupe is like his family. Today, Giannis Mantsis joins a long list of international artists who are often welcomed by the DCC to encourage creative exchange and development of their dancers.

Mantzis’ connection is peculiar, since his first contact with Cuban dance came three decades ago through the Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, namely during the tour of the Cuban troupe in Greece, where he had the opportunity to see dance under Miguel Iglesias himself. . “From that moment on, I was surprised by the quality of the dancers, and I kept in mind the idea to come to this company and develop some idea with them,” says the European creator, whose stage proposal he has been preparing for five years. .

Giannis Mantzis and Elena Tsikala rehearse an excerpt from Hands on with Cuban dancers. Photo: Ariadna Prado Cabale

Mantzis is an artist who came from the theater – the first concept for this piece was in 2018 as a theatrical performance – although his creative hobbies almost naturally led him to move into dance. He says that in the midst of these works, he came across a Greek text, which, in particular, refers to the hands, and it was from there that he decided to focus on them as a metaphor for a choreographic work.

In the midst of this process, he met his compatriot Giorgos Hirogiannis, a photographer with whom he was encouraged to work based on a series of photographs of his hands called hands up, images that provide the conceptual glue Mantzis needs to materialize a work that takes on a different dimension and is broadcast in a whole new way thanks to the contributions of Cuban contemporary dancers. The work with the Cuban company began a year ago, and from the very beginning they focused on deepening the vision of the Greek language, using local elements, such as the interpretation of a lullaby. Drum BoldEliseo Grenet.

“I’m looking for local labels because the idea is not to bring something to encourage dancers to play with it, but to offer elements that allow us to create a collective construct. We took our lives into our own hands to develop ever-changing ideas with the dancers, and this is also a metaphor for life, because we can only build the future with our own hands.

“At first I wanted to find a traditional song and of course I started with a Greek song with a range very similar to a drum script. But I realized that the dancer who sang it tried very hard, so I asked a few questions if they knew any lullaby specific to these lands. A lullaby is the moment when a person imagines himself at birth, and this one in particular connects us to our African roots, a mixture of civilizations, and this is exactly what I like to convey,” comments the Greek creator, who was helped by choreographic assistance from his countrywoman Elena Tsikala.

Dance with the social conscience

Yannis Mantzis is an artist trained in Greek theater. As part of her theater education, she attended dance classes, which motivated her interest in gaining more and more exposure to ballet, folklore, and contemporary dance. “I saw that there is something interesting in the dance. At the academy, I studied the Grotowski method, which teaches you to work more with the body in order to create a poetic body. From there, little by little, I found elements with which I could adopt a style in dance. Later I saw Pina Bausch and understood this code. Although I did not study choreography, step by step I mixed elements of dance and theater to create a system that allowed me to develop and promote my work.

In 2005, together with a group of colleagues, he developed one of his first creative endeavors, which foresaw the coming of the 2008 economic crisis with all its consequences for people’s lives, especially for the citizens of Greece. “We decided to organize because we knew difficult years were coming, and we created this company where we worked for seven years until we created a new company. It was like a network, a non-commercial purpose. We talked about our values; the idea was that in the midst of a crisis, we should resist and make art. We had about 60 artists from different disciplines. It was like a big party because every week we created a new play. After nine years I was exhausted and said I would continue alone, I distanced myself for three years and here I am: Contemporary Dance of Cuba is another start for me.”

Giannis Mantsis looks at dance with deep social understanding and hands up is proof of that. “People usually stay in the microcosm, close the door and don’t want to look any further. Many times when problems come into our homes, selfishness is encouraged. My personal responsibility may of course be to close the door, but we are artists and we have a responsibility to talk to people about what we can do.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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