Imagine Otherwise: Natalie Zervou on Dance in the Age of Austerity

Jun 21, 2024Podcast

The relationship between dance and politics has long been a complex one. In moments of national and international crisis, artists are often at the center of resistance movements, and the embodied knowledges honed by dancers, choreographers, and performers can become key survival techniques for diverse communities. 

In episode 161 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview dance studies scholar and Ideas on Fire author Natalie Zervou, author of the new book Performing the Greek Crisis: Navigating National Identity in the Age of Austerity.

The book is out now from the University of Michigan Press, and it offers a deep dive into how the Greek dance world and arts communities navigated the decade-long Greek financial crisis that began in 2009.

In our interview, Natalie situates dance in Greece’s complex economic and political standing in the European Union, explaining how choreographers, performers, funders, and audiences manage this standing through the performing arts.

We also discuss the vibrant regional dance festival circuit in Greece, where festival organizers and dancers use them as platforms for political critique, cultural expression, and international engagement.

Natalie also addresses recent Greek dance performances about the European refugee crisis, explaining how they engage the urgent and racialized politics of mobility and displacement in the context of neoliberal capitalism and racist state violence.

We close out the episode with Natalie’s vision for a new creative economy in which dance and artistic labor is valued and the embodied arts serve as a vital way to build more just futures.

You can listen to the episode in the player above or on your favorite podcast app. And be sure to check out the teaching guide and transcript in the episode show notes over on the Ideas on Fire website.

Cite this episode: Hannabach, Cathy (host). “Natalie Zervou on Dance in the Age of Austerity.” Imagine Otherwise. June 21, 2024. Produced by Cathy Hannabach and Ideas on Fire. Podcast. 25:22.

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