Christina Beskou

Articles

Dancing for fun, not fame

Athens News - April 15 1997

by Kathy Tzilivakis

" It works very well with injured people because you don't have to stop moving," she said.


"As a dancer, you can't stop moving, as a normal person you should not stop.
When dancers stop they have to start from zero." If you have ever had the opportunity to soar on a stage, then you know exactly what Christina Beskou - dancer, choreographer, dance teacher and director of the Seresta Dance Company - means when she says that it is "magic".


Following years of traveling around the world to dance, today Beskou is at her studio choreographing tango and teaching dance classes. The Seresta Dance Company offers ballet, modern dance, modem jazz, Latin jazz, gymnastics, choreography, a children's dance class and various seminars.


"I always have something big in mind," Beskou said. "I always want to do something." Now I am stuck because I don't have the money, but tomorrow I might be able to get closer to my future aspirations." She hopes to put on a big production in the near future.


For the past eight years, the Seresta Dance Studio has catered to people who love to dance, but who did not have the opportunity to become dancers. Others are beginners who want to stay in shape, while having fun.


One of the most popular techniques that Beskou uses at her studio is the barre a terre or floor bar. Over the years she has taught this technique in Amsterdam , England , the United States and in Greece . Using the barre a terre, you lie on the floor, not allowed to move your hips while your leg muscles allow you to gain control and flexibility.


"It works very well with injured people because you don't have to stop moving," she said. "As a dancer, you can't stop moving, as a normal person you should not stop. When dancers stop they have to start from zero."


Marie Fay, her classical ballet teacher at the London School ?? Contemporary Dance, devised the barre a terre technique and taught it exclusiveIy to Beskou. She is the only person in the profession who has permission to teach and experiment with the barre a terre. Strangely enough, most of the students practicing the barre a terre technique are actors and architects. Beskou explains that this technique helps actors gain full control over their body and gives architects a chance to improve their posture.


"One actor had come in very stiff," she said. "When he left (after a few months), we could not believe the difference."


Beskou spends her weekends on the island of Hydra where she teaches dance to a group of children from the ages of five to 16. She admits that it takes up a lot of her time, but says that she cannot tear herself away from talent.


"We did a performance last June with the kids," Beskou said. "It went so well - better than I thought it would. It was amazing."


She feels that Greek dancers are very talented, but that, when it comes to dance theory, they have no education. One of her pet peeves is that most of the dance instructors in Greece do not know the first thing about dancing.


"If you want to dance you have to have it in you," she said. "Not everyone can be a dancer or a choreographer and certainly not everyone can be an artist. I am very strict about that.

"
 Beskou is convinced that dancing has not only changed her character, but has made her who she is today. To her, dancing is a way of life. Even though there are some mornings when she would like to throw in the towel, Beskou admits that she would not trade dancing for anything else.


"As a dancer, you have to be a perfectionist, you have to know that wherever you are, you can still go further," she said. "You either have the talent or you don't, but once you have it, you will die with it.

"
 Looking back on her dancing career, Beskou declares that it was a tough life because dancers live in a whole different world and have a difficult time communicating with those outside of it.

The pluses, however, outweigh the minuses.


"You can never feel bad when you create something, you see it happening, the audience likes it and they understand your message," she said. Currently, her focus is on teaching and choreography. "You can teach until you are old," she said. "Dancers have a limit, that is unfair!"


When Beskou looks for new talent, she is not influenced by appearances and movement alone. Instead she is more interested in the dancer's personality. She would prefer a dancer to be ugly, but have a "spicy" personality, than for a dancer to be beautiful but have no personality at all.


"A real talent can stand on stage and not move and still be amazing," she said. "It comes out of the heart and onto the stage."


Beskou has been a member of the International Dance Council since 1988 and has since received rave reviews from people in the dance world. Mirka Psaropoulos, president of the International Dance Council, feels that as a performer Beskou is very well trained and that when she dances, one has the feeling that she is in her real self.


In 1989, having just choreographed Seresta, Beskou met Pacquito D’Rivera at a Dizzy Gillespie concert at the Irodion (Herod Atticus). That night, she introduced herself to Di Rivera backstage and made a deal to dance to Seresta with live music at the Lykavittos (Lycabettus) Theatre.
 "Seresta was my lucky piece," she said. "It literally means gathering musicians in open air and improvising."


Ever since her performance with Di Rivera, Beskou's dance company adopted the name Seresta. Seresta has had many opportunities to perform throughout Greece and overseas.
 Luxembourg 's ambassador, Jean Jacques Kassel, invited the group to take part in the Festival Wiltz in 1991. In attendance was the prime minister of Luxembourg , the culture minister and the ambassador. A year later, they performed at the Hampshire Euro-Festival in England , and at the Floriade Festival in the Netherlands .


In 1993, Seresta represented Greece in the First International Ballet and Modem Dance Competition held in Nagoya , Japan . The group was chosen over a hundred other applicants from 31 different countries; the judges selected them as one of the best participants.


As a teacher at her studio, Beskou confesses that it is a tough job because a dancer, by nature, is very egocentric. "When you teach, you have to think of your students," she said. "You have to respect them."