Vicky Spanovangelis

Vicky Spanovangelis is a London-Athens based choreographer, dancer and architect, (Bartlett UCL, Royal College of Art, MA Dance, Trinity Laban London). Vicky has exhibited internationally, she has directed design projects, artistic research collaborations and performances in the UK and abroad, (Greece, France, Germany, USA). Her doctoral research focuses on choreography & architecture as creative practice. She teaches and lectures in higher education on multi-media performance, dance on screen and site-specific environments, (previous teaching includes Trinity Laban London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London).  In 2003, Vicky founded and is artistic director of Nomads & Urban Dwellers, a company working at the intersection of body, film, movement and space, with special interest in museum event architectures.  Recent works include a research presentation titled ‘Imminent/Im-Materialities’, CISPA Denmark (2019), speaking of choreography & architecture practices related to the kinaesthetic experience of space, the flesh-body and living architecture; a participant in PQ Talks, Prague Quadrennial (2019) featuring ‘Fluid Temporalities’, show-casing ‘Performance Archaeologies: The Tracing House’, a site-specific performance of devised theatre and dance, exploring sensory movement, mark-making, and drawing practices, part of ‘Out-Topias: Performance in Outdoor & Public Space’, Benaki Museum, Athens (2016); ‘De-Code: Mnemonic in Motion’, a Dance & Ancestry project, (International Premiere), the Berthelot Municipal Theatre, Paris (2019) also performed at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, Athens (2019), and  most recently developing ‘De-Code: Mnemonic in Motion’, to be performed in Vilnius, Lithuania, in December 2019. Vicky’s curatorial and project management expertise has culminated in the launch of ‘Alter-MOTION’, a creative company specialising in events, publishing and creative design, a bridge between her experimental artistic practices and professional services as a creative expert.

My current work is developed from the perspective of a creative artist from the diaspora.  A female performer searching for her roots. I explore questions of identity, cultural heritage, and cultural memory, through creative movement practices.  A daughter of the diaspora, British born of Greek-Cypriot ethnic origin, I explore the multiplicity and fluidity of identity, and how territories of the ethnographic field are traversed as a moving body across geo-political boundaries.  My mother’s birth place is now occupied Cyprus, (which I recently visited for the first time in the summer 2019), and my father’s ancestors were nomadic settlers of Greece, the Sarakatsani people who were constantly confronted with regional migration for survival due to historical and political circumstances in Greece’s recent history.  Movement of identity, patterns of migration, the landscape and the body, as well as the roots of my practice as an architect and choreographer (materiality, the flesh-body, and materiality of architecture as space, sensory movement & mark-making, and screen media in performance), all make for a doorway to open my practice and contribute to the ‘1[-1] Materiality of Exile’ Project.

As an initial proposal I will experiment with a matrix of 11 words, 11 questions, 11 gestures, these will be documented as open-for-interpretation poetic movement texts in the form of voice narrative, movement and image.  The source of material will come from my current practice as a starting point – the core will be to consider the key words of the project such as Migration, Exile, Intersections.  The project is an opportunity to share personal practice in response to global collaborative dialogues with fellow artist practitioners.

CONFLUENCE: 19:46 hrs Athens Greece 09/11/2019
An In-process Documentation
11 Words
11 Gestures
11 Questions
Some Starting points of process I will re-work as I upload material of the past few days.

I will be documenting the process of mother and daughter reflecting on their journey to Rizokarpasso, Cyprus, my mother's birthplace.  She returns, and I visit for the first time. We depart form a divided city, and drive along the green line which separates the island. We cross borders, relinquish our freedom, but we connect with the land and our roots both in very unique ways.

Images of re-potting a plant at home...the site of domesticity becomes my canvas of living everyday traces and a metaphor of lived-experience in connection with the project.

I am working from my base in mother arrived 3 days ago from Cyprus...she is on her way back to London in a few days.
Let me introduce to the site.



Me and my mom at Pashimamos...a natural reserve for tortoises...the name means fat sands literally...for the sand dunes, on the south of Rizokarpasso peninsula...

Our Route - the 'Old-Timer' as my mother calls this road in her recent publication of an anthology of poems.

Materiality and scoring as an artist of hybrid methods my first claim of the land, the first stop on the road to Rizokarpasso, I draw into the sand along the shore line...CYPRUS...a claiming of identity, land, memory, wholeness no borders, no boundaries...pure earth, elements, nature. temporal, slowly the ebb and flow of water recedes and the marks a faint...but I carry them with me on my body, inside, in my experience.

More soon as I will be connecting with the strands, processes and incredible women of this project.

CONFLUENCE: 01:52 hrs Athens Greece 15/11/2019

Between Sunday 3rd November & 10.30pm Monday 4th November 2019
Mum and I have a telephone conversation, about her poems, her story and ancestry.  I tell her I have various thoughts, and I am still soaking up the experience of visiting Rizokarpasso for the first time on the 28th September 2019.  My mother recently published her first anthology of poems of the tile ‘THE RETURN: Poems, Thoughts, Contemplations’, which reflects on her experiences of growing up in Cyprus and Rizokarpasso her birthplace, among other things.  We recently held her book launch in Cyprus, the first time we were together on the same land since I was 11 years old. 
My first visit to the occupied lands of Cyprus…until now I have resisted crossing the border…but now was the time to go with my mother as we would be in Cyprus together.
I wanted to HEAR her VOICE on her LAND through her BODY and EXPERIENCES in the HERE & NOW…
I begin to see patterns emerge….

5th November 2019
How will I draw out the strands of my practice and develop with the process of the project? I am considering how I will share and participate, connect and dialogue with others…quite extraordinary people on this journey of shared connections, I envisage the desert, people places…HUMBLED BY THE EXPERIENCES OF ALL THE PARTICIPANTS.
I have yet to read all the entries…I am piecing together fragments of time, as I see/hear the phone ping another Facebook message at random intervals during the day, and then I sit quietly in the evenings and catch up on the conversation.
Globe trotters…that is what we have become…through our visceral and mediated self-others…around mid-night I close my eyes falling asleep…‘ping’ I hear the phone again…another alert from the project…I drift off into a sleepy haze and I whisper to myself…thinking of those across the Atlantic…‘I AM ALREADY IN YOUR TOMORROW…’

Let me introduce you to some of my Landscapes and how I arrived at Hymettus mountain.  The landscapes surrounding my home in Athens, are the lands where my father and grandfather grew up.  The Hymetteus mountain is the final resting place of my great grandfather.  I am profoundly tied to the landscape here as I make invisible markers , a personal map of my ancestral history.

City-scape Panoramic view
The terrace is my home and the site
Cyprus – the seashore – the lands of my mother’s ancestors, and the Road to Rizokarposso in which we document our journey.

ANCESTRY (Dance & Ancestry Project - Previous)
A realisation occurs to me that searching for the roots of my father’s ancestors, my PATERNAL lineage, areal story of real people, yet manifest through my imagination which I access through photographs, journals, memorabilia, folk songs, dances, myths.  These are fragments of the past which I carefully piece together.  A few rare interviews of video with my father, and one page he has written in his book.   I discover in his study the day he has gone…it is the single most precious item I have…his last parting gesture to me…his words and writing…the first page of his book and the last…I pick up the thread and tell a story of how I search for my roots.
The family archive, documented by my grandfather, in which he tells the story of his father.  He too meticulously documented and his own life (my grandfather was a general in the Greek army, and my grandfather was a partisan fighter during the last remnants of the Ottoman occupation), all of this is a jigsaw puzzle of fragments left by my great-grandfather, my grandfather, and my father.
My journey began 20 years ago…in search of my roots crossing the terrain – the project and process in itself, a MIGRATION of gestures, movements, thoughts, memories and weaving together a fabric of moments, history and my own memories of conversations with my father.  The project continues to grow…and I acknowledge both sides of my ancestry, but the focus here is predominantly that of my paternal family archive and an unfolding the search.

My mother, on the other hand is a living experience of her ancestors, songs, stories of her grandmother and mother, and her journeys, which are passed on to me in the here and now.  We begin our first conversation MOTHER & DAUGHTER over the telephone.  We speak of the diaspora and of being on a shared journey together, both of us CROSSING BORDERS of different kinds – she returns to her homeland and I go to her birth place for the same time; we step on the same land at the same time…my first visit to Rizokarpsasso.
I realise the weave of our journey - to share conversations of mother and daughter (which will open up into dialogues or overlaps with others in the project), as we cross the land, a divided island, a place of restricted access based on identity and citizenship, political forces and refugees, displacement and migration.
Perhaps MIGRATION here is a metaphor of the journey towards a shared experience, in the case of us, as mother and daughter, we are migrating together in an ancestral ritual , we cross a political border, surrender our passports, yet we have a life affirming experience which contrary to my expectations becomes a positive light in what I anticipate is loss and longing of so many people gone…through this ancestral passage way of story-telling her voice becomes etched on my skin, eyes and lived experience…
I suddenly see my mother and I dancing together… she does not know it yet but I have invited her to tell me her story as an corporeal experience to re-trace our steps and create a memory map which we have lived together…and reflect upon…and in the process get to know each other more…

My mother was born in Cyprus.  My mother’s mother, my grandmother, was distraught when she was left to raise a child alone (I never met my biological grandfather). My grandparents (she married someone else after) they eloped in the early 1950s before the war broke out in 1974. My mother was raised by her grandmother Sofia, a wise lady who would teach her stories and parables.  She then joined her parents in Australia and spent her adolescent years in Adelaide.  Later she travelled the UK to study in London. She has taught and worked in London, UK & India.

I’m not sure where this sits – but part of this relates to my mother’s revolutionary attitude to 1960s Australia (I use the term revolutionary here as an individual claiming their life in the social context of a traditional Greek-Cypriot culture of the diaspora), when she left to study in London on her own, she possessed an inner freedom of claiming her identity – if I may say this as they are my words not hers, and she carved out her own life, leaving behind any social attitudes towards women, or indeed the burden my grandmother experienced as a single mother, before she met my grandfather, my mother’s adoptive father.  Migration here is willingness to claim oneself to self-emancipate – perhaps it is a kind of willing exile not enforced, a solitary road which ultimately gives you the strength as you grow and cultivate survival skills and become self-empowered as an individual.



7th-11th November 2019 [PROCESSING IDEAS – GATHERING INFORMATION – key words are capital letters as there are crossovers between texts]

7th November 2019
A conversation between my mother and Vangelis (a family friend who comes to visit). How did you experience Cyprus? What was it like to visit Rizokarpasso, he keenly asks her?  She speaks of the way people now live, and how they lived in the past – that is, of what she remembers as a child. When she refers to the past…the left hand raises up as if throwing something behind her. 
Memory of the past, she seems to create tunnel at that moment – the gesture create a passageway (I think of our everyday taken for granted gestures) – that is the passageway through our bodies of BACK and FORWARD, behind and front our obvious orientation of eyes and sight, and the past BEHIND the FUTURE in front, enveloped in the experience as we carry out the gesture.

As we continue to converse, (I am now the anthropologist participating with her story as a listener, observer, a daughter, a person, a dancer and researcher). I am the ethnographer – situated in my own research process, searching, enduring, digging, exploring, experiencing her conversation, participating and observing – that’s what we do all the time (?) as keen observers of life or ourselves and others? As creators? As dancers? As people?

But I am sharing a lived moment with her as she passes on her story to Vangelis, I listen and so too have become immersed in the story – her-story - it is transferred to me and absorbed into my being. Perhaps the ‘story’ or conversation is the moment that transforms and morphs into my memory of my mother, and the story I tell you the reader/listener and others. 

I have started to collect gestures observing my mother, how she moves when she speaks, her pauses, the rhythm of her breath and the incline of the neck, here gaze, the burst of excitement as she flashes here smile laughing with her eyes intently gazing all the time into the eyes of the person she speaks with.

These detailed moments have direction, thrust weight, flow, lightness, a touch of the fingertips to suggest smell or touch of a memory – like rubbing spices together.  As tacit sense to recall how something ‘felt’ at the time.  Gestures become portals for RETRACING, RECALL, DIMENSION, ORIENTATION, ACTION, EXPRESSIVITY, SENSES, TOUCH, SHAPE, FORM.

I collect the gestures so far:
(I am beginning to see visual/textual/emotional connections with these gestures and the desert landscape – from the few glimpses I have of Ana’s material and others so far).

I keep notes of these gestures (as above, still adding to the collection), and I suggest we use these for our choreography experiment.  I will invite my mother into a sensory-movement conversation, where we will experiment with movement and text, recalling and retracing, Re-Membering our Journey to Rizokarpasso:

I quickly demonstrate how we can use these gestures – a footnote here: in my ancestry project gestures are portals to recall and then they become embedded in movements of memory of landscape, and attitudes of my body in different situations such as folk dance and creative movement, different moments of behaviour or situations where I relate stories of how I discovered my father’s ancestors through songs and folk dance.

Perhaps gestures are the portal between meaning descriptors of events as we live and relate the events as memory in the here and now?  I have been perusing over the book titled ‘Migration of Gestures’, an apt definition.  (Need to find the reference to add here).

Here I am with my mother creating a reflection of living stories – a different visceral connection occurs, we do the gestures together – we touch and mirror each other’s hands, and then I draw her arm over my head and turn underneath her to face sideways, her hand is facing down on my sternum and I can feel the warmth of her palm as I bend backwards.

‘Wait…wait…I can’t turn so fast she says, you have to give me time we need to practice….I notice the texture of her skin and the feeling of her body.  She is still strong and supple…yet I am reminded of the passage of time…yet there is a strength in her that is not the soft fragility of a changing skin, a beautiful etched surface which gather’s the marking of time, her stories and journeys in life, or as I frequently refer to Merlau-Ponty’s description of skin, as a ‘contour in process’ a ‘psychic support’, in his book The Phenomenology of Perception (1966); a MATERIALITY (I echo the resonance of our common words in the project)…her flesh and bones are robust…but I need to be gentle to give time to enter a new practice of movement with me.

As I collect more gestures, I imagine us dancing together…I am UNCERTAIN of what will happen, and I remind myself of this as a PROCESS.  As a dear friend once reminded me of a Buddhist teaching -  it is important to  'rest in the uncertainty’.

UNFOLDING THE WRITING (13th November 2019)
I insert the entry on writing here…as I notice that related creative practice through a Blog is a very particular and personal/public process, it manifests as the work and layers manifest.  I feel an UNCERTAINTY as to how to convey and mediate the layers of my process.
INVISIBLE CONVERSATIONS (I reference here our fb group conversations)
REMEMBRANCE DAY 11.11.2019 (Eleven is the rule here – it is a fitting metaphor)
EARTH – WOMEN, EXILE, LAND, FREEDOM (I recall the book ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, below a quote I found on the internet).
EXILE – ‘While exile is not a thing to desire for the fun of it, there is an unexpected gain from it; the gifts of exile are many.  It takes out weakness by pounding.  It removes whininess, it enables acute insight, heightens intuition, grants the power of keen observation and perspective that the ‘insider’ can never achieve’.  The author of the site suggests that exile can be understood as an ‘act of leaving behind the known and leaping into the unknown – loneliness, uncertainty and strangeness. It empowers new capacities with in us and teaches us skills and qualities’, accessed 13.11.2019

My first step has been to collect, gather and process initial ideas.
I have added the reflective personal notes on observations in italics.  Where appropriate I add the capital letters for key words which overlap.
As I write this entry of my initial gathering of material, I will soon begin to connect with others and cross-over conversations of shared process.
I look back on the initial notes of our group conversation – ‘A methodology of the dialogues: difference and diversity’. 
I will keep this in mind as I progress to the next step of the process.

MEMORY (7th November 2019)
On the 7th of November, we go to the market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables.
‘I want to buy Pomegranates and Artichokes…they remind me of Cyprus’. My mother conveys – we are still eating pomegranates almost a week later.  The kitchen is infused with a 3-D map across the table and Memory Objects of Rizokarpasso - we record our conversations amid the smell of Greek coffee, cooking and conversation.

A collection of memory objects from Cyprus.  My mother produces two huge prickly pear leaves she brings back from Cyprus, a stone from the beach in Larnaca, she also finds stones in the house she collected from previous journeys, we add the Cyclamens we have bought from the market, as the fields around Rizokarpasso were full of anemones and cyclamens.
We have yet to decide how we will respond to the memory objects – at the moment they are tacit objects, signifiers, emotional canvases, doorways to another world, time and place.

The 3-D map we create is the starting point.  I begin to map our words and stories.  We add string and begin to weave the journey as a 3-D line, between objects and places.  The string is a simple tool to create lines and spaces. A spatial, tactile and visual cue of multiple references I will also use it in the choreography along with some other playful materials.

11th November
We record our first conversation.  Roots are firm, although, to be uprooted or displaced in one sense is to have the ground moved from under your feet, literally and metaphorically…roots stay within...I find my roots are entwined with my mothers as we relate in the video documentation – an experiment in capturing our conversation with textures and images of our process and the journey to Rizokarpasso…

11th November 2019

‘We can look for our roots in the context of genealogy, origin and environment we are born into, grow up, visual environment, and finding our roots can also helps us understand who we are today’…(Nina).
‘You are connected with it ..there is no division… there are roots under your feet wherever you go, it is like you are anchored, you know who you are…’(Nina).

‘I liked what you said…have some key words here…I found it interesting in speaking of roots…belonging…completeness…it is with you wherever you go…no more longing or nostalgia…no division…no separation…it’s an anchor’…stability…you know who you are…’ (Vicky in response to Nina’s words on Roots).

‘Once you reclaim your roots within you… the you are a free person…no one can take that away from you…’ (Nina).

‘I found it life affirming as I could claim something that is part of me by being with you in the here and now’... (Vicky on her visit to Rizokarpasso).

Mother & Daughter in Conversation 11.11.2019

I also realise while reflecting on the process of what my mother and I are doing, it is a ‘co-creative ethnography’,  a dialogue of creating material and experiences with my mother directly – the everyday – the real – the personal identity of a personal history – but processed together through this creative journey.  It seems premature to critique the work at this stage although the academic is always searching for a critical frame.  Capturing and processing.

MATRIX (of thoughts/ideas/actions) – BLOG – MEDITATIONS - MEANINGS
As a brief summary here…I am experimenting with discovering the words and meanings that connect throughout the project.  This inter textual weaving seems to work as a non-linear process.  Some of my key words are repeated throughout so I am allowing the process to repeat as I write – writing can trigger associations in a non-linear way and I hope this is clear without losing the thread of the conversation as blog document.
BLOG – to Blurb reflect process think write – change – swap out -invent – add - subtract – edit – re-edit –repeat– erase – rewind - playback?
BIO-LOGGING??? I’ve never considered the etymology of a blog…according to a google search – ‘The term 'web-log' was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997’.

MATRIX of words – the material here so far seems to be openings to different pathways spiralling out – bridging out – reaching out.  I will see as we produce material how it will evolve on the ground and in the virtual world of the blog.
The process of the MATRIX:
11 Words – In response to the project.
11 Questions – Evolve as material is generated open ended questions.
11 Gestures - Collect Gestures - Choreography movement experiments.
11 Minutes of Conversation – Add to the 3-D Map - Record the conversation.
11 Minute Video Montage.

Blogging (some more put it out there reflections / thoughts)  – A non-linear biographical – reflective – sometimes clear – other times makes sense or sometimes nonsensical speak - thoughts to ones-self in-between places and spaces, time zones and bodies or out of body kind of experience. Embodied and yet – the immediacy of my experience and connection with others is often changing and malleable  – I am reminded that my biological time, wake-up, train, work, cook, cleaning shopping, phone calls, emails, rehearsals, planning, social-media…and somehow I am carrying everyone with me…a challenging experience…elusive and lucid – graspable at times not so easy to keep up...but overall very inspiring a wondering into the  unknown. Solitude and togetherness. 
(Henri Lefebvre’s ‘Rhythmanalysis’ and ‘The Production of Space’ come to mind here will insert some references in future).

GEOGRAPHY OF OUR TIME ZONES (with fellow participants)
To be simultaneously connected to others – virtually and physically yet apart – I wonder how we each cross through the terrain and perceive those connections?  The time zones make me conscious of our global community and a double awareness of connecting on the ground – the daily practice of participating in the processes of our individual practices and how to mediate – communicate and share…I wonder what this network will reveal to us?

I’m now ready to connect with fellow participants…as I have started to get to grips with my process…looking forward to bridging out and discovering.

One word flow response as I listen between sound cloud audio
and the live stream
I make pauses with each resonance
at intervals
an type...
'Crossings...children...20 years...playing in the fields...'
nostalgic lost cries
sorrowful strings
'poor but happy'...I hear the language in English spoken music translations...
sometimes I cannot distinguish but I am carried by the music...
voice to a community
' everyone else'
The dancer's body is now a slow column,,,a small figure...the familiar movements of a familiar body
The sound is uplifting....
I do not only 'see'...I am infused with the moment as I grasp it between hearing watching and communicating
'Sending money home'
The sound of wind and birds the desert landscape
Spiral Twist Turn
'Grandparents foreigners'
Self-consciously watching and typing in the moment response...experiment with the impulse of seeing m,movement, feeling and interpreting...
Birds sound
Textures in the desert grass a horn sound...
There dancing with and with these peoples voices...
'Mourns the passing of her parents'

Movement a hollowed our scoop of the back
Loneliness of the desert...solo body...a figure in a transfiguration of a passage way
I ritual?
Birds strings hollow deep...low and soft....
Body stands tall...taking in the surrounding horizon....

'Planted here'...
The roots, firm and deep where you land...when you are crossing the passage way Conversations of my mother's voice cross over into the narrative of the live stream and sound cloud... ceaseless crossing in life...
'She has had a happy life'
A panoramic view camera rolls around
looking and searching
I hear Ana's familiar acknowledgement
Walking to another spot...
Sound of a rooster loud....
'Warrior woman...a fighter...
The camera shifts to a walking rhythm towards the house.... people are gathered outside chatting
My sense alert to the sound and image of the live stream
Trying to capture
'A Warrior women of great faith....'
Dogs barking....
I hear the wind in the live link foot steps

People have entered the space...
'Childhood marked by violence....'
we are outside the installation space
The wind is rough
It cuts through the screen,,,
I'm transported to the desolate landscape of the image.,..
Walking pulsing foot steps


It sounds like rain in t live stream...
Echoes of children's voices
#The ground
I see the white figure on the ground....
I imagine the smell
Flings the hands above the head...
Fining a with the earth scooping
'Marriage then children...'
Lie back down
Sink into the earth?
Find the sky?

Actions which I can interpret the grounding into the site ....the shaking off....
familiar spiral wave with the hands
An infinity cycle.....
balancing on one leg negotiate the other....

stand walk

I hear water....

'She speaks of challenges making her stronger..'

Gathering and collecting scooping in....
'Previous life in service of others...'
A new life...a voice of her won?

I can hear the desire and the quiver ion these women's voices as the each tell their story.

The sounds lie silent cries...

Ana walks around the earth I think she moves to the spectators at times....knees covered in earth
Stroking off the earth

'She laugh as she says she is not dead as a woman...'

The camera circle a full panoramic zoom

They walk towards the house.


A still shot of the ground....time lapse frozen intervals of the live link
Horizon Rocks

Piano key
single notes
notes of the voice
'First child born in 1977'

Camera freezes

A stilted rhythm

Yet I am somehow connecting the pieces...I fill in the pauses and gaps as I write
eyes up and down
'The source of her strength'
Ana's figure is hidden partially by the trees
The house in the back ground...
Sound of water again...
Hands reach to the sky


The figure walks towards something...a black box?
The back of the neck elbows
crouch down

Is there a hold...a time to think and pause?
The image is frozen again

Round arms an reaching up
A desire to find something inside while outside?
Leans forward the weight on one foot...I wonder what she is thinking about now....

Piano notes linger

Chords ride across the notes of piano keys which sound like pebble drops....

The body is still leaning like a place of nowhere and somewhere to go...caught between a moment.