An internationally accomplished choreographer and dancer

Please, share a few things about you with us. Where did you go to school, where did you study and what is your current occupation?

I was born in Ierapetra of Crete. That’s where I finished school and received my first lessons on folk dances and modern dance with Niki Papadaki. At the age of 19, I moved to Athens to study in the State Dance School of Athens for two years, before being accepted by the Rudra Maurice Bejart Lausanne, after an audition at the Athens Concert Hall. I spend two years in Switzerland supported by the Maria Callas scholarship. After concluding my studies, I joined the Maurice Bejart group and worked for two years, before joining the Ballet de l’ Opera de Lyon under the direction of the Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara.

However, during my professional career I have always been a restless dancer and already had the chance to choreograph for the Maurice Bejart group and the Ballet de l’ Opera de Lyon.

So, in 2003, I decided to devote myself to choreography as a guest for prestigious dance companies and had also founded my own dance group in Lyon of France, under the name Apotosoma/Andonis Foniadakis.

After a 10-year career, I currently do only choreography, working for my group and for major groups all over the world and recently for the cinema and the opera.

How did you make the decision to join the dancing world? Have you been dancing since your early age? Did you have any youth icon?

As I already mentioned above, I received lessons on folk Cretan dances at an early age, dances of rhythm and verve. Later, I was educated on modern dance at the Ierapetra’s Municipality Dance Laboratory by the dance teacher Niki Papadaki. I had no particular youth icon, but rather the personal need to dance, as I recall. Dancing was an escape from reality, a sort of catharsis from my teenage fears and worries.

Maria Callas scholarship, Maurice Bejart school, your career’s milestones are the dream of several dancers. How does that make you feel?

It’s a fact that the dance landscape was quite different at the time when I was given the opportunity to study under the Maria Callas scholarship. The opportunities and choices to study abroad were few for a young Greek dancer.

Moreover, standards were quite different. However, the challenge was huge and I had the courage to struggle in an unfamiliar environment. From the first day of my studies abroad until today, I have been experiencing major thrills, challenges, successes and also hurdles that make me feel proud and satisfied. I currently enjoy my schedule and when looking back, I realize that without my strain and persistence, I wouldn’t be able to feel as fulfilled as I’m feeling today.

Did it take a lot of hard effort to reach the point you are at today? The road to accomplishment is hard, especially in your profession, I suppose.

It is very hard. I struggled alone to find my position in the international dancing world, with little or no help at all from people with influence. With the tool of choreographic skill, persistence and desire in my hand, I managed to keep on working since the first day I decided to go professional. One work brought the other and I started travelling outside France and later outside Europe. My dedication to work and finally my choreographic mark helped me lay my own path of big challenges and requirements.

How did you make the decision to start your own dancing group?

Thanks to my desire to do personal work and research on choreography.

What is your career’s top moment?

It’s hard to give you an answer as every moment, regardless of importance, holds a special thrill for me. I have experienced important times in world cities, like London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, Geneva and many more. However, I have also experienced big thrills in my hometown Ierapetra for instance or Chania of Crete, where I presented shows that had already travelled abroad.

I recall the advice that Maurice Bejart gave me before entering the stage, especially before my first appearance at the theatre of Herodion. Having noticed my stage fright, he said the magic word and reinforced my faith in myself. I can also recall my mythical partner Anna Laguna in Carmen by Mats Ek, my wonderful teacher and choreographer Saburo Teshigawara, whom I had the opportunity to work with in a revealing experience for me, the shows of Geneva Ballets with one of my work at the Joyce of New York, the wonderful cooperation with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet again at the Joyce of New York last May, my cooperation as a moving coordinator with Darren Aronofsky in his latest film Noah, the intensive and demanding rehearsals with the director of Batcheva dancing group Ohad Naharin, the Danza and Danza Awards ceremony and my award as Best Choreographer of the Year in 2012 in Italy and many other that I would sound prone to wordiness, if I tried to mention them all.

Do you believe that dancing in Greece is at its starting point?

I have lost my connection with the Greek activities in the last 3 years, so I cannot judge the current Greek dancing stage based on facts. However, let me tell you that I have always believed that Greece’s problem is not the lack of talents or charismatic artists, but the state’s policy, which, except from financial hurdles, also lacks vision and consistency and follows the pattern of favouring, sadly supporting occasional stages and sets. Unfortunately, dancing has not established a devoted audience in Greece, as it needs a consistent presence all year round and not just in a crowded summer festival.

Youre currently based abroad and travel a lot all around the world. Do you miss Greece?

Yes, I do miss Greece and I visit Greece every single summer.

What is your future agenda?

For the coming year, I currently work for:

Martha Graham Dance Company, New York, USA

Sydney Dance Company, Sydney, Australia

BJM Dance Company, Montreal, Canada

Ballet de Lorraine, Nancy, France

Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France, choreography for the opera Castor and Pollux by Rameau

Moreover, Darren Arnofsky’s new film Noah will be screened in April 2014, where I worked as a 3D characters kinesiology coordinator. With my own dancing group Apotosoma/Andonis Foniadakis, I’m working on a new show for 8 male dancers, titled Wisteria Maiden, opening in April 2014 at the Belgrade International Dance Festival in Serbia.

What are your memories from Greece? What images cross your mind when you think of your homeland?

Many images and memories cross my mind, blurred and clouded. Wild landscapes, proud youth, delicious food, getaways on the mountains of Crete, endless sea, dear friends, family moment, lyre melodies, folk festival dancing, my blind grandfather playing the mandolin to lull me to sleep, the blustering wind, the ever-present eroticism, wonderful readings under the shadows of trees, small villages of polite and odd inhabitants, walks to favourite alleys, unfenced archaeological sites in the countryside, my old romances and many more.

I suppose that you are following the news on economy and society. Do you believe that we will witness any improvement soon?

I’m not that positive about the future of Greece. However, I wish the country all the best. At least, I wish that everybody makes any possible effort for the best. It takes a lot of personal and common efforts for as long as needed.

Is the possibility of coming back to Greece in your future agenda?

I always come back to Greece. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Greece is inside of me irrespective of geographical boundaries.

What does Greece mean to you?

My starting point in this world, my family, my habitat, my shelter, power of spirit and culture, my friends artists or not, an endless light, an enduring struggle between ideals and realism and always the sea.

What is your top question to Greeks?

I put questions to myself first, before putting questions to others.

But if I had to put a question to Greeks, I would ask them if they are sincere with themselves.



An internationally accomplished choreographer and dancer

Andonis Foniadakis is a famous choreographer and dancer and has appeared with the best dance companies all over the world. He is the Ballet director of Greek National Opera.

He grew up in Ierapetra of Crete, where he discovered his love for dancing at an early age. He started taking dance lessons in a small dance school and in 1990, he enrolled in the State Dance School of Athens, where he studied for two years. He later received the Maria Callas scholarship to continue his studies abroad in Rudra Bejart, Lausanne.

He has collaborated with Bejart Ballet of Lausanne from 1994 to 1996 under the direction of Maurice Bejart. From 1996 to 2002, he worked for Lyon Opera Ballet under the direction of Yorgos Loukos and in 2004 he started dancing with Saburo Teshigawara/Karas Co.

In 2003, he started his own dance company Apotosoma, based at Lyon in France.

As a freelance choreographer, he has performed choreographic works for the world’s largest dance companies and ballets, like Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Geneva Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, Bern Ballet Ballet du Rhin, Maggio Danza, National Dance Company of Wales, Dansgroep Amsterdam, Cia Sociedade Masculina-Brazil, Bale da Cidade of Sao Paulo Brazil, Helsinki Dance Company Finland, National Ballet of Greece, National Theater of Northern Greece, Benjamin Millepied Dance Company USA, WashingtonBallet, Dansgroep Amsterdam, Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Ballet Junior Geneva, Hellenic Dance Company and CNSMD Lyon Copenhagen International Dance Festival.

In 2002, Foniadakis received the Danza and Danza Award for Best Choreographer 2012  in Italy for Les Noces.

He has been commissioned to choreograph for two operas, Les boreades by Rameau at the Opera National du Rhin and Il canto de la pelle by Claudio Ambrosini at GRAME Lyon.

Moreover, Andonis Foniadakis has been teaching seminars in the State Dance School in Athens and several dance schools all over the world, like DOCK11 in Berlin and Dansgroep in Amsterdam.

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