Dance is important; it is not cheap entertainment you get with a click. Better a live performance with 100 spectators in a theater, than a video seen online by 100,000 viewers
Alkis Raftis is currently President of the International Dance Council (CID) at UNESCO, Paris, and since 1987 he is president of the national Dora Stratou Dance Theatre and Company in Athens. CID is the official umbrella organization for all forms of dance in all countries of the world. Its members are the most prominent federations, associations, schools, companies, and individuals in over 170 countries.
Born in Athens, dr. Raftis speaks 6 languages and holds degrees from 4 universities (engineering, sociology, political sociology, and management) in Athens and in Paris. He has carried out ethnographic research on traditional dancing in villages, historical research on Greek dance since Antiquity, as well as research on dance in world art and poetry.
Prof. Raftis is considered the leading authority on dance in Greece and his Dance History Gallery series is considered the most valuable tool for dance historians. Alkis Raftis is currently working on the history of dance in the Eastern Mediterranean before 1900. He has authored more than 20 books on dance, culture, and management, and more than 100 articles. He has edited other 30 books, 11 CD-ROM volumes, 6 CDs, 2 DVDs, and a bi-monthly review with over 110 issues.
Ballet Magazine:” You produce a vaccine against a virus of the soul: you know how to make people dance: You hear the call, answer it!”. This is a part of your official message on International Dance Day 2021, that I chose because I think it is one of the most beautiful definitions of a dancer in this difficult times. Practically, how International Dance Council helped its members during this year to keep their hope and to continue their activity?
Alkis Raftis: During the pandemic, International Dance Council (CID) has increased its contacts with CID Members and others: more email messages, more phone calls, more exchanges over social media. CID has given encouragement, has offered advice on how to organize online classes, have shared knowhow on how to cope with new conditions. As you can see on our website – www.CID-world.org – we reacted immediately, started assisting dance schools in March 2020. At that time, nobody knew what we should do, not even the World Health Organization. People did not have a reliable source of information on the pandemic and other health issues.
Ballet Magazine: In the same message, which we published in our magazine, you made a parallel between the situation in Europe 80 years ago, during WWII, and our days when we are fighting with pandemics. In the past, dance and music helped the people gathered together to survive, now we have TV, Internet, radio but we have to keep social distance. How can dance save us one more time?
Alkis Raftis: The images with people dancing together but at the distance in the same time, each one in its balcony during the lockdown showed us the way dance could be helpful for the spirit. Dancing at home with family, friends and neighbors it is always a good therapy helping to reconnect through dance with the family and with the neighborhood. Also, dancing outdoors, in the open space, could be a way to reconnect us with nature. These are the solutions CID has proposed from the beginnings of the pandemic. At that time, a year ago, our advice proved a life-saver. Teachers should feel their role as social leaders, they should lead people to healthy dance.
Alkis Raftis, President of the International Dance Council: Better a live performance with 100 spectators in a theater, than a video seen online by 100,000 viewers
Ballet Magazine: What is your opinion about dance show online? It is a mix between culture and technology. Do you think that it was a good idea in these exceptional circumstances?
Alkis Raftis: It is an alternative only under the current circumstances, otherwise we do not advise it. Before the pandemic I would never watch dance online, I consider it a poor substitute for seeing dance live. Dance is important; it is not cheap entertainment you get with a click. Better a live performance with 100 spectators in a theater, than a video seen online by 100,000 viewers. Dancers and public need to exchange energies, emotions, feelings. I am sure that each dance school and dance company will find the right mix between events and classes live or online.
Ballet Magazine: International Dance Council for Romania organized an online conference about dance education in our country. What do you think about the Romanian dance community and the level of dance education?
Alkis Raftis: There have been a few Romanian CID Members since a long time ago, about 20 years ago. Now others many joined and CID will continue enlarging its presence in Romania. The CID Teleconference Romania on 12 April 2021 was only a first approach, it was a roll call in order to see who are the active forces in the country. People only know what is going on around them, in their narrow circle. No one has a broad perspective of the overall situation in the country, about all forms of dance. We need people to provide information. We, as CID, need to continue with online workshops to get a good idea on the real situation of dance education.
Ballet Magazine: We hope that we will resume soon our normal life. What are International Council Dance plans for the near future but, also, for the next 2 or 3 years?
Alkis Raftis: I am afraid that after the pandemic, when schools open again fully, let us say in September, dance classes will have about half the students they had before. Couple dances like tango and bachata where the faces of dancers are very near, will suffer the most. People are afraid to be in close proximity. Less students means less payment for teachers. Dance School Directors should offer International Certification to their students. Thus they attract more students and have more income. At the same time, they show that dance education is serious, no more teaching without a valid document. Also, they could expand the courses offer. In the end, each School Director will decide according to the needs of the students.
Ballet Magazine: Thank you very much mr Alkis Raftis for the interview and we wish you good luck in all your projects.