the modern dance awareness society

dance dance everywhere

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passTRESpass 2015: Sharing our experience in Athens

passTRESpass rehearsal 2015

passTRESpass rehearsal 2015

We have just returned from Greece, and as you might imagine, the situation this year provided inevitable challenges to mounting passTRESpass. Despite the hurdles, we are pleased overall with the impact our project continues to have on refugees in Athens. We had 5 American and 1 Greek facilitator this year. Irene Siegel, Lorene Bouboushian, and Karl Cooney were new to the project in 2015. Their dance, language, and logistical skills were a huge asset to our work. Despina Stamos, Panagiotis Andronikidis, and Jill Woodward returned to the project.

A steady influx of refugees from Syria and other places continued to arrive daily in the midst of one of the worst European financial meltdowns since World War II. We touched many more people but not always in the lengthy workshop process that we’ve done in previous years. We gathered a group of participants who joined us as we created performances in various plazas, known as platias, in Athens.

Lorene dances with the children of Lavrio Refugee Camp

Lorene dances with the children of Lavrio Refugee Camp

We performed at 8 locations where immigrants tend to gather, including one refugee camp just outside the city. This compound was a temporary home to hundreds of recently arrived Syrians, including around 150 children. When our dance was finished we were delighted to have the children and adults share some of their own movement games with us.

Because Irene speaks Arabic and French, we were able to communicate better with refugees than ever before. Lorene’s background as a children’s dance educator was immensely helpful as we found ourselves interacting more and more often with families and children. In all of these locations, we incorporated the audience members into our dances, and invited them to join us at the next place.

A few refugees and Greek community members had the time and wherewithal to join us in building a performance piece. We were scheduled to present work at the Athens Anti-Racist festival, but the festival was cancelled because it was a direct conflict with the last minute unprecedented referendum announced by the government. Instead, we joined with a local theater group and presented a 30 minute dance piece for an audience at a cultural center the night before the referendum.

Platia Viktoria with the recently arrived Afghan immigrants

Platia Viktoria with the recently arrived Afghan immigrants

We are all improvisers in our movement work, and we drew on those skills to adapt our project and improvise logistically everyday throughout the three week workshop period in Athens. Even people we touched only briefly told us how much our presence meant to them, and we are extremely gratified that we were able to have those interactions.

We look forward to sharing our more of work through video in progress, and meanwhile if you’re interested you can see our final performance below.

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Gala News!

The party was awesome, thanks to all those who came, partied, volunteered, sang, and documented! We want to give a shout out especially to Chashama, who donated the party space and catering, meaning almost all of the ticket and Silent Auction proceeds go toward the project.

We netted approximately $3100 on the Gala, which will get us to Greece and cover a portion of our workshop costs, including food for our participants. Thanks also to our amazing Gala sponsors and other donors, whose help allows us to expand the project and create another short documentary film. Tax-deductible donations are still gratefully accepted.

We’re preparing to leave for Greece in just two weeks, but in the meantime, check out some photos from the event on our public Facebook page (no account required). If you are on Facebook, please “like” our page to follow our process in Athens. Any photos you’d like to share can be posted there.

We have exciting plans for a fall event that will build on the transcontinental video live stream concept. Stay tuned for your invitation, and have a wonderful, dance-filled, joyful summer!




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Proudly announcing our 2015 Benefit Gala

We are beyond thrilled to invite you to our upcoming Benefit Gala on May 11, 2015. Enjoy amazing views from the 48th floor of the Bank of America building. Our Athens collaborators will join us for a transcontinental live-stream dance performance, sharing a taste of what passTRESpass will offer this summer.

Tickets are $50, click to buy!

Can’t come but want to support? Donate here!

Tax-deductible sponsor packages are also available – contact despinasophia at

Gala invite



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Spring update 2015

Our short film bodies of resilience will  screen at the International Video Dance Festival of Burgundy. While mdas finalizes preparations for our gala benefit event on May 11th, I will be performing in Stratos Tsortsorglou’s production of The Shout. The work is choreographed by Teti Nikolopoulou in collaboration with myself. Kraugi1-no sponsor More news soon!

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soma – and other spaces

soma – and other spaces

a meditative, movement ritual

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 3.29.56 PM
September 23 and 25, 2014


Chashama 1155 6th Avenue

corner of 45th St.

the modern dance awareness society presents soma – and other spaces, a multi-media durational movement ritual / installation performed by Despina Sophia Stamos and Danica Arehart at 1155 6th Avenue at 1pm, September 23 and 25. The duet gradually unfolds amid the towers of mid-town.

 Juxtaposing the time signature of the neighborhood, we seek to build a momentary “nest” for our bodies and our imaginations.The audience is invited to enter and stay for as long as they like. We invite people to bring their lunch as these are lunchtime performances.

Inspired by Sarah Robinson’s Nesting: body dwelling mind,  Stamos and Arehart create an episodic, kinetic game that expands and contracts over the hour. In development since 2013, the work began with the question- how do the environments that we live in affect our body’s movement? This work is the process through which we approach the question.

presented by chashama

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news from Athens

Lots of good news from Athens!
Panagiotis Andronikidis has been making connections with the Immigrants Social Center in Exarhia, Athens as well as Piso Thrania. They have facilitated showing the  2009  documentary to potential participants and to date, we have 30 people interested in participating. The workshop will take place in Exarhia this year. We will be performing the final work at the Anti-Racist Festival.

Jill Woodward has created a trailer for last year’s project that we are just beginning to share online. We would love to hear your impressions of the work!

Thank-you for the support we have received for the project thus far, though we are still quite a distance from our goal. Please look for our fundraising letter in the mail! Your support has been vital to the project.


Despina Stamos

To donate by check:

Please make all checks payable to The Field.

Write Despina Stamos / mdas in the memo line.

Donors should mail checks directly to:

Despina Stamos

400 West 43rd St. 38-c

NYC, NY 10036

To donate by credit card:

Go to

Enter Despina Stamos / modern dance awareness society

Click “Contribute” and follow the prompts

the modern dance awareness society is a Sponsored Artist of The Field, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization serving the New York City performing arts community. Contributions made to The Field and earmarked for Despina Stamos/mdas are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information about The Field contact: The Field, 161 6th Avenue, New York NY 10013, (212)691-6969, fax: (212)255-2053, A copy of The Field’s latest annual report may be obtained, upon request, from The Field or from the Office of the Attorney General, Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.




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