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Local dance traditions and glocalised crisis: A landscape of traditional dance in Greece under austerity

Dr Maria Koutsoba, University of Athens

Wednesday 22 March at 5.30 pm

The present socio-economic crisis worldwide has inevitably affected dance and dancing both locally and internationally. Greece is among the countries that has faced and faces this situation acutely.  With a stagnant economy, a public sector devastated, a high level of unemployment, a public administration unable to cope, and people’s income going down all the time, Greece has indeed been described as “spiralling down “ (The Guardian 13.08.2016) In this context, one would expect that interest in Greek traditional dance would be insignificant. Yet the contrary is true and dance is going through a boom period. This seminar examines this phenomenon. Drawing from personal experiences (being Greek as well as living and working in Greece and being involved with Greek traditional dance both professionally and socially) and from observations at Greek traditional dance clubs in Athens and other venues where dance is practiced formally and informally, it attempts to make sense of the situation. How is it that within such a devastated financial landscape Greek traditional dance is thriving? It looks at the economy of Greek traditional dance and shows that being a relatively cheap activity it is affordable, and that employment opportunities to traditional Greek dance teachers continues its upward trend. It contends, however, that this economic factor is insufficient to explain the trend and argues that it is because of traditional Greek dance dynamics of interaction and its integration of the multifaceted and complex layers of Greek identity, that it has played a supportive role in bringing communities together during a difficult period, especially in offering a privileged space to the young, an issue yet to be examined academically.

Maria Koutsouba is an Associate Professor of “Dance Studies with emphasis on Greek Traditional Dance” at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Tutor of “Open and Distance Education” at the Hellenic Open University. During her 30 years professional life, she has been member of Greek traditional dance clubs and has taught dance in Greece and abroad. She is member of scientific organisations in Greece and abroad, and she has participated in several research programmes. She is also a specialist in Labanotation, a system to write down movement. Her research interests and publications are mainly on social and human sciences and dance (ethnochoreology/dance anthropology, dance notation and movement analysis, cultural policy and dance, dance education), as well as on educational innovations such as open and distance learning in dance. Her recent publications include ‘Learning and digital environment of dance. The case of Greek traditional dance in YouTube’ in the European Journal of Open, Distance & E-learning (2016), as well as the collaborative contribution ‘Advocacy, austerity and internationalisation in the anthropology of dance (work in progress)’ to the proceedings of the Joint Conference of and SDHS, SDHS/CORD Annual Conference 2015, Cut & Paste: Dance Advocacy in the Age of Austerity (in press) (with Georgiana Gore and Andrée Grau).

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://koutsoba.eventbrite.co.uk