Alkis Raftis: “Armenians are shy and modest when it comes to dance”
The President of the International Dance Council on Armenian dances and not only...
Eritasard.am’s correspondent sat down for an interview with Alkis Raftis, who has been chairperson of the International Dance Council established by UNESCO and based in Paris for several years now. Alkis is a thoroughly developed researcher, who has four professions (engineer, labor sociologist, political sociologist, administrator of enterprises) and is fluent in six languages. Since 1987, Alkis Raftis has been head of the Dora Stratou National Dance Theater in Athens. He has specialized in dance by studying ethnic and traditional Greek dances. Alkis also loves collecting. He has 5,000 videos, 30,000 postcards and 1,500 stamps that are related to dance. Eritasard.am: Mr. Alkis, you are visiting Armenia for the first time. What were your expectations? Alkis Raftis: Yes, this is my first visit to Armenia. I imagined a small and landlocked country. Armenians think sending dance groups abroad means communication. But if they simply travel abroad, give concerts and return, that’s not communication. We really want to establish contacts with Armenian dancers. Eritasard.am: How can Armenian dancers establish contacts with dancers abroad? A.R.: We invite every dancer to join our international CID website (http://www.cid-portal.org is the official website of the International Dance Council that unites all dancers around the world). The website is in twenty languages and provides visitors with information that they don’t have. Visitors don’t know the supreme body in dance. We call on everyone to send us an e-mail. If you send us 1,000 letters, our secretariat will read them individually and respond to all of them. This is my message to everyone: “Connect with us, and we’ll connect you to the world”. Eritasard.am: What is your opinion of Armenian dances and dancers? Do you know any famous Armenian dancer? A.R.: I can’t name a famous Armenian dancer, but I think Armenians are very shy. They are very modest. I call on them to not be shy and to connect with the world. Like every ethnic dance, Armenian dance is also unique. Every nation says its dance is the most beautiful. We think they are different, but equal. We want dancers to meet and communicate with each other, teach each other their dances, live and travel together. Eritasard.am: Which dances are growing dynamically? A.R.: Belly dance is definitely the world’s fastest growing dance. Unlike Armenia, medicinal dances (dance therapy) are growing in several countries across Europe. There are also many modern dances that become international, including the Brazilian capoeira, the Cuban salsa and more. I think there has to be variety in everything. If only one type of dance grew, everything would be ordinary and boring. Eritasard.am: Belly dance is actually growing in Armenia as well, even though it doesn’t characterize Armenians’ temperament. In this context do you think dance can set an example of tolerance in terms of world views? A.R.: Dance is so dynamic and universal that it’s needless to talk about that. For instance, the belly dance is a very emotional dance. It might be against Armenians’ nature since Armenians are shier and more reserved, but that dance is more accepted in Mediterranean culture since the people of that culture are more open. Astghik Melik-Karamyan