Feature: Athens marked Int'l Dance Day to raise awareness on hunger, discrimination

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-01 01:44:21|Editor: An
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By Alexia Vlachou

ATHENS, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of dance lovers of all ages gathered in several main squares in the center of Athens to celebrate International Dance Day this weekend, sending a message against hunger and inequalities.

"This year the International Dance Council joined forces with the World Food Program to create 'Dance to Zero Hunger'," Kritsiotou Maria, member of the Athens Section of the International Dance Council told Xinhua.

More than 600 dancers and 30 dance troupes fired up the audience in a two-day event who enjoyed various dances from Greece and abroad with parallel events across the city.

Despite difficulties due to the debt crisis that has hit Greece, they all enjoyed a few moments of mental respite during the weekend dancing to the rhythms of Greek folk music, Bollywood, ballroom, gypsy, can can, rock 'n roll and other forms of dances.

"We dance against those actions and intentions that create hunger either due to unequal distribution of wealth, either due to war and persecutions," Kritsiotou added.

As an art expression, dance promotes cultural exchange among nations. "There is a dialogue among cultures and that is very important. It is moving to see how migrants contribute to such events with their traditional customs," she stressed.

During the event, which was organized by the Cultural, Sport and Youth Organization of Athens City (OPANDA) and the Athens Section of the International Dance Council, people get fascinated by the beauty of each culture and learn to respect each other, according to the organizers.

In the central square of Kolonaki, 80 performers presented a program under the title "Dance in the urban landscape" to show the kinetic potential of the human body.

From Kapnikarea square to Agia Irini, in the heart of Athens, a group of Brazilian percussions with free style dancers carried away even tourists and passersby with their passion and beat.

Just a few blocks away, in Klafthmonos square, dancers sent a strong message against the stigma of mental health.

Dance not only entertains people, but cures as well. According to researchers, it can provide a healthy and comforting environment for individuals suffering from psychological disorders, mental retardation, and other conditions.

"We use all forms of art to help people with mental health to rehabilitate and integrate to work," Margo Liatira, psychologist of PEPSAEE (the PanHellenic Union for Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Work Integration) told Xinhua.

Under the title "Mastering Steps", people with mental health problems along with professionals and volunteers from PEPSAEE presented their choreography.

"We danced all together to show that people with mental health problems are not different from us, to celebrate dance and to underline that dance unites, rather than divides people," she said.

But what excited Liatira was the enthusiasm of the participants. "It was amazing to see these people been happy, to feel satisfied with themselves, that they succeeded to present in front of an audience what they prepared," she said.