Outstanding Male Dancer 2015

Ioannis Mandafounis

Outstanding Male Dancer 2015

Ioannis Mandafounis was born in 1981 in Athens and now lives in Geneva, when he is not travelling the world in the cause of dance. His parents – his mother a Genevan, his father a Greek – are both dancers. But as a child, Mandafounis was not initially drawn to the profession; he caught the bug only when his father, on tour with his own ensemble through Greek villages, had him mount his own little choreography. He received his first lessons in dance at the National School of Dance in Greece, and at the age of 14 had already been admitted to the Paris conservatory; he travelled alone to the French capital, where he lived with a host family while studying. This inaugurated his international career as a dancer, initially as a member of the Göteborg Opera Ballet, then at the Nederlands Dans Theater II, Jiří Kylián’s stable for young talent in The Hague, before he went on in 2005 to spend five years as a member of the Forsythe Company.

 

While fostering his career as a performer, Mandafounis has also worked as a dancer and choreographer in a variety of ensembles: in 2004 he joined Katerina Skiada and Anastasis Gouliaris in Athens to found the Lemurius Company, and in 2007 he created a new version of “L’Après-midi d’un Faune” for the Greek National Opera. Together with Fabrice Mazliah and May Zarhy, colleagues from the Forsythe Company, he founded the trio mamaza in 2009, which has co-produced such international works as “Z.E.R.O.” (2009), “Cover Up” (2011) and “Eifo Efi” (2013). Mandafounis has also choreographed for other groups, such as the Ballet Junior in Geneva. All of his interventions, including as a dance instructor at celebrated training institutions, are suffused with his lust for innovation in the bodily art of the dance.

 

Patrice Delay, member of the jury:

Awarding a prize in recognition of an exceptional performer to an artist who is also a choreographer certainly does not undervalue that person’s accomplishments in the latter capacity. Quality of movement, precision, rapidity, fluidity, the ability to listen – all natural aptitudes; and from the Göteborg Ballet to William Forsythe’s company by way of the Nederlands Dans Theater, not to mention in the many pieces he has created himself, Mandafounis has given audiences all over the world the opportunity to recognise and appreciate his talent. And, because a dancer in the 21st century has a duty to be creative, he has placed his skills in the service of numerous collaborative projects with May Zarhy, and especially Fabrice Mazliah.