The Greek National Opera has launched a new programme called the Dancebox Project, aimed at helping unemployed ballet dancers. Unsurprisingly, the audition lists have been full.
Italian choreographer Renato Zanella, who became the National Opera’s director in September 2011, said: “I have a chance to give some hope and some help to the new generation in a country that doesn’t deserve to suffer like it is.”
Eleven dancers will be chosen for the two-year project.
Former dancer Marina Kourti said: “Things are very, very difficult, because there are very few companies hiring artists, so we all go searching at the National Opera or at the State Dance Theatre, but the State Dance Theatre has problems and is not producing shows. But when we come here and the doors are also closed, we persevere, we don’t give up.”
The budget for the Greek Ministry of Culture was slashed by around 35% last year. The National Opera Theatre’s funding has been halved. The company has reduced its debt from 17 to seven million euros, but it still faces an uncertain future.
Zanella said: “In a time of crisis, the performing arts always become more important. People are more attracted to theatre, to ballet, to music, because they need a challenge, a moral challenge.”
And to prove the point, this year’s Christmas production – The Nutcracker – is almost sold out already.