Ioannis Mandafounis

12-14 APR 2019
Main Stage
What materials make up a dancer’s life? Ioannis Mandafounis stages his own grand finale, with autobiographical elements and touches of humor, offering a secret peek at the life onstage and behind the scenes.
In the eyes of the public a dancer’s career may seem like a sprint, but in fact it is a marathon of challenges, beginning with training at a young age and coming to a close with the final bow. As a career wanes, every dancer is called upon to refute the obvious: the body, exhausted by the constant technical demands, has to resist decline and continue to shine before the triumphant exit.
Classically trained dancer Ioannis Mandafounis, who has performed with internationally recognized modern dance troupes, returns in this work to his “first love,” ballet, paying it a final tribute. The piece plays with the overblown sentimentality of the farewells of the “étoiles,” the great ballet stars, while also retaining its own sentimentality, as well as humor. An evening that takes us behind the scenes to show how ballet routines are learned, offering a commentary on the superhuman struggle hiding behind the seemingly painless art of dance. Antigone Frida plays the role of teacher-pianist.


Concept & Interpretation: Ioannis Mandafounis
Teacher & Musician: Antigone Frida
Dramaturg: Eri Kyrgia
Coaching: Smaralia Karakosta
Light: David Kretonic 
Sound: David Scrufari
Administration & Communication: Mélanie Fréguin
Production Management: Erin O’Reilly
Line Production: Cie Ioannis Mandafounis
Co-production: City of Vernier - communication department, Theater Freiburg, STEPS International Dance Festival of Migros Cultural Percentage, Onassis Stegi, Migros Culture Percentage Dance Festival Steps

Supported by: City of Geneva, State of Geneva, Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

With the support of: Duncan Dance Research Center

Thanks to: École de danse de Genève – Patrice Delay and Sean Wood

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Mandafounis was twice recipient of Onassis Foundation fellowships. Both times were catalytic for his career: the first gave him the opportunity to study at the Paris Conservatoire, one of the most important dance academies in the world. Several years later, in the context of his continuing education as a dancer, he received a second fellowship to study alongside Master Akira Hino in Japan.
Setting out and coming to an end. Typically, the life of a classical ballet dancer begins with training at a young age, in some cases as young as 8, and ends in middle age, around 45. While there are always exceptions to these rules, the career of classical dancers is relatively short. For stars (“étoiles”), the final bow is a moment of ultimate exaltation.
Despite his training in classical dance, Ioannis Mandafounis didn’t follow the career of a classical dancer. Nevertheless, he still declares ballet to have been his “first love.” Like anything else you devote yourself to entirely, ballet involves moments of painful preparation, and others of great joy and reward. The dancer constantly struggles with the limits of his body, of his endurance, with himself and the exaggerated demands of the profession.
Though the utter admiration for the hard-won bodily capabilities of a dancer may be a cliché, underneath remains an entire system of discipline to rules. And while on stage everything hinges on upholding those rules, behind the scenes, that entirely “ascetic” dedication can also comprise an excuse for humorous, light moments.

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