Our fundraising campaign for Athens refugees!
After a tumultuous beginning, passTRESpassAthens 2016 culminated in a wonderful workshop and performance of proximity as part of Outopias, an exhibition curated by Thanos Vovolis at the Benaki museum.
OutTopias, Benaki Museum Athens, Greece
September 24, 2016
passTRESpass Athens https://tmdas.org/passtrespass-athens/
The purpose of the work is to pose questions regarding how we negotiate boundaries on the different levels; human relationships, physical space, and cultural practices. Participants explore movement vocabulary with an emphasis on excavating and physicalizing particular psycho-geographies – personal stories and communal histories. As we are confronted with each other’s cultures, how can we successfully co-exist and flourish? What do we carry with us? What do we leave behind and how does that effect our environment?
As kinetic organisms moving about on a planet shrinking from population density and technological advances, we are colliding faster and harder; realities intersecting, borders shift. As the ground shifts, how do we make sense of where the pieces fall? How do we choose to rearrange them?
Thanks to Embros Theater, City Plaza and Benaki Museum for their support.
Despina Sophia Stamos
sound and editing Maria Juliana Byck
camera Leon Taylor
Stay tuned for part 2, dis*place*ment, November 19 & 20 at 2pm at Anita’s Way, Times Square. dis*place*ment is a transcontinental dance conversation with the artists from City Plaza. All tickets proceeds will go to the cast in Athens.
Landing in Athens with Irene Siegel on August 24, we are immediately informed that an attack had occurred in a neighboring refugee center. Two gas canisters and a Molotov cocktail were thrown into the ground floor at 5:30 am, by fascist nationalists, causing a fire that burned the storage room. Luckily, no one was hurt.
Many families were moved to the City Plaza Hotel, presently home to 400 people half of which are children. This event was frightening and further traumatizing to the people many who were there because their own worlds were crushed by bombs, DASH fanatics, smugglers and harrowing journeys.
Irene immediately translated for Arabic speaking Syrian Kurds.
She was extremely invaluable providing much needed communication bridge. Slowly, we connected with various groups within the center.
Mohammad, a 14 year old traveling with his 16 year old brother Basir shows interest in our dance proposal. He brings his friends. They are beautiful performers. They are children who have made it to safety.
For cultural reasons, the girls and women do not participate. We dance with them at the women’s gathering every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-10pm. Yoga for women at 7 all week. Joined by 16 yr old Alishba, whose grandfather was killed by the Taliban in Pakistan, Nisreen and Evine, two Syrian sisters, 16 and 14, Slava 13, Raida 10, occasionally Lava 14.
Nur, a young mother from Homs, shows us her neighborhood on Google maps, satellite view. She traces with her fingers the different areas around her home belonging to different warring factions. She zooms into the bombed building remains a few doors from her own family’s home, while cradling her infant.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 hotmail.com.
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. More news soon!
￼soma – and other spaces
a meditative, movement ritual
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 http://www.chashama.org