Contemporary dance in Cyprus is one of the most recently developed artistic domains. Despite the fact that since the 1990's the Ministry of Culture had been subsidizing sporadically the organization of specific dance performances of contemporary dance, the boom of the domain occurred in the first years of the new millennium.
What has contributed the most to this development was the return to Cyprus of a number of young Cypriots who had completed their dance studies in universities and dance schools abroad and had returned to Cyprus with ideas, vision and will for development and diffusion of contemporary dance.
Since then, the contemporary dance field has experienced a speedy development. Nowadays in Cyprus there are more or less twenty contemporary dance groups that are active while at the same time, there are choreographers who are working individually and independently. Despite the fact that contemporary dance is a female domain par excellence, during the last five years, the number of Cypriot men who choose to study dance and dedicate themselves to contemporary dance on a professional level is being augmented slowly yet steadily.During the early years of the 1990's, the Cultural Services had perceived the dynamics and energy of the domain. Efforts were intensified and as a result specific funds dedicated to the support of contemporary dance activities and projects were included in the annual budget for the first time.
The Cultural Services support contemporary dance in Cyprus via a plethora of measures. Taking as a starting point the educational aspect of the domain, the Cultural Services support the participation of dance pupils and students as well as of professional dancers and choreographers to educational and training seminars, workshops, master classes, summer courses taking place in Cyprus or in famous dance centers abroad, such as the DanceWEB Scholarship Program in Vienna, the International Dance Center Suzanne Dellal in Tel Aviv, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow to name but a few.
With reference to research and production of new choreographic works, the Cultural Services subsidizes three big works via the Pilot Program in support of Creation and Research in the field of Contemporary Dance. This year is going to be the last year of the pilot program and what follows is its evaluation in order to further develop and improve it in the future.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the Cultural Services subsidize and support the production of smaller choreographic works as well as various projects, activities, festivals dedicated to contemporary dance via its annual Subsidization Programs.
A fundamental parameter in the policy of the Cultural Services is the promotion and presence of Cypriot dancers and choreographers abroad in international festivals and platforms. Cypriot choreographers have presented their work in Athens International Festival, Kalamata Internatonal Dance Festival, Michalis Kakoyiannis Foundation in Athens, Athens Video Dance Festival, Stockholm Fringe Festival, International Improvisation Festival of Seoul, Julidans Festival in Amsterdam, Tala Festival in Zagreb and many others.
Moreover, the Cultural Services consider important for the further development of the field, the provision of opportunities of contact, exchange and collaboration between Cypriot and foreign artists. Cyprus accession in the European Union in 2004 has launched an enthusiastic initiative of exchange programs, residencies, partnerships in European funded cultural programs and networking in international organizations such as the Εuropean Dance House Network (EDN) and Aerowaves. The fruitful intercultural dialogue in which Cypriot artists of contemporary dance have been engaged with their colleagues coming from different cultural backgrounds has contributed the most in the process of maturing and evolving contemporary dance in Cyprus.
Finally, the Cultural Services organize two important events of contemporary dance, the Cyprus Platform of Contemporary Dance, organized every March for the last twelve years, and the European Dance Festival, organized every June for the last fifteen years. Having as a reliable ally RIALTO Theater in Limassol, these two events have won the trust and respect of the contemporary dance artists and the audience in general.
The Cyprus Contemporary Dance Platform is organized by Cultural Services since 2001. It is financially supported exclusively by the Cultural Services and it provides Cypriot choreographers a chance to express themselves and present their creative work. RIALTO theatre offers the venue and the technical support. The last four years an effort was put to invite international guests to watch the performances so that the Platform will operate as a means for promoting Cypriot choreographic works abroad.
In recent years, the Platform has been enriched with parallel events, such as seminars, round table discussions, lectures, workshops by academics and dance experts thanks to Dance House Lemesos. Dance House Lemesos is situated next to RIALTO Theater. It is the first venue in Cyprus dedicated to contemporary dance and it is sponsored by the Cultural Services. Its operation has contributed the most to updating the Platform organization.
The Cultural Services, aiming at the provision of the best and updated information of the large audience concerning contemporary dance in Europe, have initiated since 1998 the annual organization of the European Dance Festival. The Festival is organized by the Cultural Services, in collaboration with RIALTO Theater and the Embassies and Cultural Centers of the EU Countries in Cyprus. The Festival is taking place every June in RIALTO Theater in Lemesos and PALLAS Theater in Lefkosia where works by dance groups and choreographers from the European countries are hosted.
Contemporary dance in Cyprus is undoubtedly an artistic domain which is rapidly growing and at the same time is highly promising. All omens indicate that talent and creativity are original and even more bright samples of contemporary dance are yet to be shown in the future.