The work of Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis, born on Crete, has a quality all of its own. The dancers are always in motion, always in the moment. Foniadakis seeks the boundaries, both in physical and emotional terms.
However, as a child Foniadakis didn’t dream of becoming a choreographer, or even a dancer. ‘It’s true that I always liked to dance – in bars, clubs, at home. Our entire family, including my brothers, consists of enthusiastic spare-time dancers. From dancing at a party, through to traditional Cretan dances.’ It was only at the age of 18, quite late for a professional dancer, that Foniadakis auditioned for the State Dance School in Athens. Later he won a Maria Callas Scholarship which enabled him to continue his studies at the Rudra Béjart School in Lausanne.
In professional dance Foniadakis discovered both a challenge and a form of release. ‘You ask your body to do something exceptional. You seek the boundaries, both in physical and emotional terms. Dance enables you to say things without having to put them into words. When I was young I was very introverted and shy. Dance gave me a sense of freedom.’
In his own work too, Foniadakis seeks the challenge – no matter if he’s helping to create an opera or, as ‘movement coordinator’, bringing digital animals to life in Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah in 2014. In 2018 he gave his uniquely personal interpretation of Maurice Ravel’s Boléro for the National Ballet of Croatia, with a piece for six dancers on mini-trampolines. But not as a gimmick, Foniadakis is keen to emphasise. ‘Boléro already inherently has a certain repetitive bouncing verticality. I wanted to translated this into a physical obstacle.’
His work has a quality all of its own. The dancers are always in motion, always in the moment. As in the piece Streams, a fragment of which was presented in the programme Gold & New (2021/2022 season). This is an abstract work, originally made for Gauthier Dance/Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart, in which one dance sequences flows seamlessly into the next. Physical and emotional boundaries are tested to the absolute extreme in Selon désir, which forms part of the Bach programme (2022/2023). Selon désir is a whirlwind of energy and desire, choreographed to sections of both the St Matthew Passion and St. John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. ‘What’s important to me is that the dance is alive, here and now. That it doesn’t look like the sum of previously learned steps, but instead that the dancers themselves really experience it, in the moment.’
In 2003 Foniadakis founded his own company in France: Apotosoma. As a freelance choreographer he has worked with many companies, including Martha Graham Dance Company, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Benjamin Millepied Dance Company, Flanders Ballet etc. Foniadakis was also the resident choreographer of the Greek National Opera Ballet.