Syntagma Square, the Greek capital’s historic center, acts as the backdrop of a classical ballet, with Parliament surrounded not by vociferous demonstrators or anxious politicians, but by six ballerinas. Wearing their distinctive tutus, the ballerinas sway to the rhythm, in perfect unison.
In Omonia Square, as well as at Piraeus Port, silent dancers let themselves go to slow, passionate body movements, as if in a trance. Sixty young performers, in tune with the rhythm of the city streets, become one with Athens’ “darker corners,” illustrating that harmony and romance remain in ample supply in this city.
“Moving Athens” was produced by Wind & Foster, in collaboration with Stefi Productions, the Athens Video Dance Project and the Athens School of Fine Arts. The soundtrack was produced by Danny Odom (MODE)
Jevan Chowdhury’s video “Moving Athens” can be viewed as a different kind of protest in the midst of a crisis; a protest that benefits Athens rather than relying on vocal opposition and angry slogans. This is a well-researched motif for Chowdhury, an artist who believes in the power of silence as a means of expression: “Too much talk, in an age of information overload and the Internet, is obsolete. The power of dance lies in its ability to convey feelings through silence. While dance cannot provide answers, it can certainly remind us of who we really are.”
Chowdhury launched the “Moving Cities” project in 2014 and has so far won no less than 10 awards at various film festivals around the world. After Paris, London, Brussels, Yerevan and Prague, he made Athens his last stop. The reason why he chose the Greek capital is partly because of the high levels of unemployment crippling the country – just under 50 percent in some parts of the country – and its young people. Chowdhury makes his own silent commentary on Greece’s plight, emphasizing the beauty, grace and vitality that evident in the streets of Athens, its buildings and even its rooftops.
“Greece is filled with intelligent, hardworking people. The fact that the country is saddled with unsustainable debt, is – to me – beyond comprehension. My film is not about redundant information and factual statements. All I wanted was to provide a small breath of fresh air as an answer to the country’s asphyxia”, says Chowdhury.
Using dance, music and his camera, he succeeded in creating an ode to harmony, filled with realistic imagery: “I believe ‘Moving Athens’ carries a message of renewal. Its optimism does not stem from the buildings, taxis and stores seen in the background, but from the people participating in it. The value of this city lies in the warmth of its people.”
The Greek dancers, who for three days performed for Chowdhury’s inquisitive lens, witnessed their own alternate reality and were able to view their country in a different light. Chowdhury describes this collaboration as a unique experience: “The Greek dancers I met were true artists. I wish others could share my Athenian experience, getting to know this city in the same way I have.”
“The Greek dancers I met were true artists. I wish others could share my Athenian experience, getting to know this city in the same way I have.”