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Apostolia Papadamaki

The world’s first underwater dance performance entitled Drops of Breath choreographed by Apostolia Papadamaki and Sophie Bulbulyan was staged at a depth on 6 meters below the sea at Sounio, at the foot of the Temple of Poseidon, on 25, 26 and 27 September 2015. Designed to convey humanitarian, social and ecological messages, the underwater dance performance featured 14 dancers from Greece, Cyprus and France. “Underwater we’re all the same,” said Apostolia Papadamaki; that’s why disabled, adult and child dancers all take part in the performance.

It was an extremely difficult undertaking, which was 2 years in the planning. The entire production is part of a wide-ranging European programme entitled ‘The Underwater Heat of the Mediterranean’. The performance also featured underwater sets and music played through underwater speakers. The 14 dancers were fitted with all the equipment needed for underwater diving: wetsuits, masks, flippers and oxygen tanks. 40 spectators similarly attired watched the show beneath the waves, while another 40 were on the surface with face masks and flippers, while other spectators were on land watching the performance on giant screens.

“Technical considerations defined our artistic expression here,” explains Apostolia Papadamaki. “Nothing like this has ever been done before so we needed a lot of research and a lot of work to figure out the artistic and practical side of things. The dancers’ moves were based on diving skills, where the laws of gravity don’t apply. You need total control over your breathing to be able to float suspended in the water. That gives you a different sense of space and time, with everything unfolding very slowly. The mask limits your field of vision. Dancers, who always have space as a point of reference, lose that under the water and become disorientated. It takes a lot of knowledge to do this sort of thing; knowledge we gleaned from professional divers. The participants included both professional dancers who learned how to dive as well as divers who were exceptionally graceful. That allowed for an exchange of views and skills”.

Tasos Papapanos was responsible for providing flotation technique training. The underwater music was by Tryphon Koutsourelis and the underwater sets were designed by Giorgos Georgiou, and underwater filming was done by Stelios Apostolopoulos.