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Valia Bartsouli is a dancer, dance teacher and choreographer. What characterises her, apart from her great titles and above everything else, is the continuous education, no matter how many years have passed.
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
To date, she has studied and earned every possible diploma in her field. Among other things, she is Examiner and Modern Dance Tutor of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and Mentor of the Royal Academy of Dance.
She has danced with the great Camagüey ballet of Cuba and choreographed the revival of the Olympic Games and many productions like the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Special Olympics, as an assistant of Fokas Evangelinos.
"Besides, during the ceremonies I coordinated all the participants, over 4000, which means that in their headphones they could only hear my voice. It was one of the most shocking experiences of my life.
Coordinating people, the shots of the channels, who enters the stadium but also addressing special abilities to children require patience, love, respect, experience and understanding of the different needs of everyone, especially of these children".
She graduated from the National School of Dance with a diploma of dance teacher, dancer and choreographer. During her studies, in addition to the daily practical courses, she had also many theoretical courses such as anatomy, psychology, art history, music history, music theory, literature, methodology ballet, organ knowledge and many more interests that she would develop significantly in the future.
Later, through the teaching diploma of the Royal Ballet Academy and the Licentiate Diploma of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, Valia was specialised in movement anatomy, which means thorough knowledge of the function and reaction of each muscle, tendon and joint, to take maximum care of the physical health of her students.
"I was lucky to have great teachers, the best in Greece, such as Giannis Metsis, Leonidas Depian, Zouzou Nikoloudi, Vicky Maragopoulou, Dora Tsatsou, Ges Michov, Bogoeva, Rizova, Iliasova, Anton and many more. This means that I had got great foundation by being taught everything possible at the time; it means that I was enriched and I earned something unique from each and every one of them".
Since the second year of her studies, she danced in professional dance groups and at the same time taught jazz and modern dance. Her schedule was exhausting and perhaps the pressure and the constant engagement with so many different things kept her in our country and not overseas where her abilities could have made her an internationally renowned name.
Along with teaching, she started looking for any means to expand her knowledge but also to practically evolve as much as possible with the aim of always offering the maximum in her field to every student.
"Since there was something on the planet, why not find out?"
The solution for Valia Bartsouli has always been to learn other dance systems - often without even a teacher but with a solitary personal effort although such diplomas are usually obtained from these Academies by the students there. It is noteworthy that all her diplomas are with distinction.
First stop at the Royal Academy of Dance in London: Teaching Certificate in Ballet and Teaching Diploma in Ballet (anatomy and dance history). For 10 years, she has been a mentor of the same Academy, with a contract for the CBTS program which means that she trains candidate teachers.
Another stop for modern dance: the world-renowned Academy of London, Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing; initially with intermediate dance diplomas, Advanced 1 and Advanced 2.
Then she started her teaching diplomas: Associate (awarded with credit) with which you become a teacher, the Associate Diploma with which you teach teachers and others that were neither taught nor earned by anyone in Greece like the Licentiate, which specialises in large sections and classes of boys and the Licentiate diploma which consists of anatomy (two parts) and dance history (two parts).
She also qualified as an ISTD tutor and taught technique, anatomy practices and child psychology to young teachers.
Then it was time for her Fellowship - in which she is the first in Greece, along with Christina Foteinaki, to have been engaged in. Obviously, she comes and goes to London but fortunately for Greece, she always returns.
Through her own legacy, the way has been opened to younger generations, since together with Christina they can teach what couldn’t be taught before. The map is changing; dance is changing!
For 33 years she has been teaching ballet, modern-jazz, modern dance, tap dancing, gymnastics and the most difficult of all: music-motor skills to preschool children. From 1995 until today she’s been artistic director and head teacher at the school of Fokas Evangelinos and head teacher at Margo Perdiki-Archontaki and many others.
She danced as first dancer in Heresy group for many years, in dance theatres Nafsika, Ios and Metamorphosis, in the famous Camagüey Ballet of Cuba and in many other groups, television productions, shows and performances in Greece and America.
She has choreographed the Junior Eurovision, many performances of the Central School of Orchestral Art by Fokas Evangelinos and Margo Perdiki, the dance group ON STAGE etc.
"I am never satisfied. I am constantly looking to learn more, to learn something bigger, something unknown. I want to get better and I will be trying until the end. I never say "I know" - I advise my students not to do it, but especially never to feel it.
The meaning of dance is so great that you can never stop; this art has got no end. Its magic and scope have got no end. In addition, when you take on children, you must feel the responsibility and honor that they and their parents trust you, and you must do well in your work".