Dance - Interviews
Christina Fotinaki & Aggeliki Andrinopoulou
Dance Texture: Learn dance under the guidance of
Christina Fotinaki and Angeliki Andrinopoulou
Interview: Fay Alexopoulou
Dancers are artists. They work hard with their body, they become one with the music’s rhythm. More than strong muscles and flexibility are needed for them to achieve an ideal result. They need discipline, responsibility and of course, to be perfectly synchronized with one another. They are the artists who speak to, us -the audience- through their movements and manage to evoke our admiration!
Christina Fotinaki and Angeliki Andrinopoulou are two Greek women who have devoted their life to dance and have many interesting things to say about it. Let’s meet them!
Christina Fotinaki: Above all, Angeliki and I are friends. Aside from that, we share the same love for dance. Creating Dance Texture was, I think, inevitable. It is so important that we’re together in this. We compliment each other. We have always encouraged each other emotionally-not just now during the lockdown.
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: “Christina and I have known each other for over twenty-five years. We have the same passion for dance and have always believed that dance has a theoretical basis as well as a physical one. We have choreographed music videos, worked in theatre schools, have danced in theatrical productions. Our journey has not been a short one!”
Although Angeliki has a degree in physical therapy, she has never worked as a physical therapist. Instead, she has chosen to “invest” in what she loves most, dance! “I really enjoyed studying physical therapy, but I didn’t want it to be my career. I use the knowledge I gained in my physical therapy studies as a dance teacher.” says Angeliki.
Christina has been dancing since she was seven, Angeliki since she was eight. One can find Dance Texture, their dance school which boasts many years in Keramiko, at 76 Pireaus Avenue (Leoforos Pireaus 76). Before the pandemic, this is where all the classes took place between 9:00 and 16:00. Of course, the school’s doors will reopen as soon as the coronavirus safety measures are no longer necessary, and we are all able to return to our pre-covid activities. Until that time Christina and Angeliki will continue to teach dance, online.
Tell us a little bit about your dance school and the training system you teach, the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: Dance Texture is a recognized dance center by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. We function under their supervision.
Christina Fotinaki: Dance teachers all over the world follow the same method of teaching as we do. Many seminars take place (now with covid, these take place on the internet on Zoom) where all teachers who are members of ISTD can participate. The goal of these seminars is for us to become better teachers, to progress in our art. We are always continuing to learn. Before the Covid-19 pandemic we traveled abroad to take or give seminars, to teach students or to examine them. This will all resume of course, as soon as the coronavirus situation ends, and things go back to normal.
What types of dance does the ISTD training method include?
Christina Fotinaki: We teach Classical dance – Ballet, Modern, Modern theater (theatrical dance for musicals), Jazz and Contemporary. Additionally, we teach classes for strengthening, pilates, yoga, and we also offer classes for personal development. We also offer commercial dance classes which are helpful for dancers who participate in music videos.
Is your dance school for anyone who loves dance, or is it only for people interested in dance professionally?
Christina fotinaki: Dance Texture trains dance teachers. It is for anyone who would like to work with dance on a professional level, for anyone who would like to be a dance teacher.
Can anyone who wishes to become a dance teacher enroll in your dance school regardless of their age, or is there an age limit?
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: For someone to start training at Dance Texture they must have finished school. We work with adults, with people eighteen and over. Lessons begin at 9:00 in the morning and end at 16:00 in the afternoon. All professional dance schools have similar time schedules, whereas dance schools which are not geared towards training dance professionals are usually open in the afternoon/evenings.
Christina Fotinaki: One should also have a background in dance, for example dancing from a young age. In other words, someone who is thirty, although young, cannot train to be a dance teacher if they have never had any experience with dance.
Dance is certainly gender free. It is both for women and men alike. However, at least in Greece, it is usually females who test their abilities in this field. Males usually prefer other activities such as soccer, basketball, and track. My question is: Do you have any male students in your school or just females?
Christina Fotinaki: Generally speaking, there are more females. Right now, we have only females. In the past however we have had many male students.
Approximately how many students are there per class?
Christina Fotinaki: Each class has approximately ten students.
How many times a week do the students have class and how long does each lesson last?
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: “Students have mandatory classes every day, three hours physical training and two hours of theory” Angeliki explains and she stresses, “in order to practice dance three hours a day you not only need to have physical stamina, you also need to have mental will power!”
“It’s necessary, exactly for this reason, one not be a complete beginner, so they can endure the training and avoid injuries” Christina adds.
How many years does somebody need to train in dance before receiving a professional teacher’s diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, in other words in becoming a dance teacher?
Christina Fotinaki: We have designed it to take three years. Someone who has the will, puts in the effort, has a background in dance and is in good physical condition needs three years. However, some people need five years of training in order to receive their diploma. In addition, I’d like to add that a student must first pass five different exams before qualifying for a diploma.
Are the ISTD diplomas internationally recognized?
Christina Fotinaki: Yes.
What is the process of the exams and where do they take place?
Christina Fotinaki: The exams take place at our dance school. Of course, due to the restrictive measures regarding the pandemic they are currently not taking place. The subjects of the exams are selected by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. The teaching and examination material are however specific. The exams are practical and theoretical. For the theoretical examinations, candidates must hand in their work on a certain date. As far as the examiners are concerned, we are forbidden to examine our own students. This is done by other ISTD teachers. We too however are examiners. We can travel to any country to examine students. For example, this time last year (March, 2020), I was in India as an examiner.
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: Prerequisite for the diploma is student practice in the form of assisting a teacher, or teaching, themselves. In the instance of assisting a teacher, the student must find a dance teacher willing to work with him/her. In the second instance the teacher candidate will have to find his/her own students who trust and want to be taught by him/her.
Many dance teaching students have a difficult time finding a dance teacher willing to work with them, or finding students who want to be taught by them. As a result it takes a long time to graduate and some dance teaching students get tired and give up. This is why it is necessary for those interested to be consistent and really want the diploma.
“You need to make sacrifices! In order for someone to succeed in his/her chosen profession he/she needs to really love it” Christina adds.
This period, due to the current Covid-19 restrictive measures all athletic facilities, such as gyms and dance schools, are closed. I wonder, do you teach online? If so what is your experience? How have your students responded? Have they adapted to this new style of teaching?
Christina Fotinaki: It’s true, right now lessons are taught only online. We start at 9:00 and finish at 16:00, sometimes later. We use Zoom.
Fortunately, our students are adults, so they do not get bored, and their minds don’t wander. They understand, and because they are not beginners-they have some experience with dance and a good relationship with their bodies-it wasn’t difficult for them to adapt. If they were small children, it would be more difficult for them to follow our instructions through a camera.
However, there is the problem of space, Christina points out.
Christina Fotinaki: In a classroom, the dancer has space to move around, to express himself/herself, to release his/her energy. But in a room, or a living room, the furniture restrict you. What we really miss is movement in an open space. It’s like a wind up toy that you wind and wind and wind, without letting it go, holding it in the same spot. Another thing is that you can’t feel other’s energy through the camera. Something very important for us dancers. ”
“Internet classes miss part of the communication and interaction that take place between both the students, and the students and the teachers” Angeliki adds.
Here Christina points out that both she and Angeliki pay great attention to the safety of their students so as to avoid any possible injuries: “The safety of students and the safe practice of dance is of great importance to us. We discourage doing leaps, movements which could possibly strain their joints, as home is not the ideal place for someone to learn dance.
Angeliki says, that for dancers, online education does however offer one advantage.
Angeliki: With the camera, our students now observe their movements and their bodies more easily. They focus on things that when in the classroom they cannot control. Now thanks to the camera, they can focus on a particular part of their body, something which cannot be done with the mirror in the classroom. For example we say: ‘Now focus on how your hips are going to move’. This is something that can’t be done in the classroom as the mirror doesn’t allow us to see as much detail as the camera of our computer does.
What does dance mean for you?
Christina Fotinaki:Ever since I was very little I wanted to dance. For me, dance is cleansing, it is expression. It’s not something you put on and take off, like a suit. It defines you. It’s what can be found in the depths of your being. Whatever problem we may have, we can deal with it through dance.
Angeliki Andrinopoulou: For as long as I can remember myself, movement was and continues to be the way I express myself. Our bodies change as we get older. After a certain age we can no longer do what we could five years before. We have to listen to our body, take care of it, not strain it, not abuse it.
My heartfelt thanks to you both for your time and information! Keep dancing, sharing your knowledge, and smiling!
Christina and Angeliki are very friendly and full of positive energy- something you realize immediately upon meeting them! Their dance experience is as extensive as their love for dance. If you would like to be a dance teacher, contact them!