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Dancers learn to dive for underwater performance



In what is being billed as a world first, 14 dancers have donned scuba gear for an underwater performance, complete with specially composed music, to an audience submerged to a depth of approximately 5 meters in Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens, beneath the ancient temple of Poseidon.

40 seats are available for the audience on the seabed, and 40 more can get a panoramic view as they snorkel above. People on dry land can watch nearby on a giant screen for what is planned to be a three-day run.The dancers – mostly French and Greek and including three who are disabled and three children – float into and out of formations in choreography that melds the underwater world with the stage. Hand movements turn their breath into a fine mist of bubbles. Music, composed with the conductivity of sound through water in mind, floods the circular seabed stage from two submerged speakers.

The performance is the brainchild of Greek choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki and French choreographer Sophie Bulbulyan, whose dance group in one of Paris’ poorest neighborhoods includes disabled dancers.

The two, who are recreational divers, met three years ago during a dive.

“We liked each other and then we started talking artistically, exchanging ideas,” Papadamaki explained. They had “the very impulsive idea one day after a fun dive: Let’s make an underwater performance. Let’s see if it’s possible. An underwater dance performance.”

It was possible – but not easy.

“This project is like going to the moon on a bike,” said Bulbulyan. “There was an enormous amount of difficulties.”

For a start, dancers – including those with mobility problems – had to learn to dive, and control their buoyancy through their breathing to the point where they can hover upside down and sideways, or rise and fall without moving a muscle. Seventy percent of the performers were dancers who became divers – all in the last year.

Then there were the logistics: diving gear, transport, financing, the vagaries of the weather and political upheaval in Greece, complete with banking restrictions and early elections.

“I’m bringing a French dance group from the poorest neighborhood in France, which has handicapped people in its group, to Greece, a country in chaos, and we’re doing something without limits,” Bulbulyan said. “It’s all that together, with crazy logistics.”

The music needed special consideration. Composer Trifonas Koutsourelis researched and tested the transmission of sound frequencies so his score could both be heard clearly and choreographed in water, where movement slows down.

It took him two and a half months. “I haven’t slept for the last three weeks at least,” he said.

For the dancers, especially the disabled, the experience was “beyond words,” said Papadamaki.

“They feel equal. For the first time they can move without a wheelchair, without the restriction of somebody having to carry them.”

Irini Kourouvani, who uses a wheelchair, has been a dancer for 15 years but was wary of the water as she needed a flotation board to swim.

She was hooked from her first dive.

“I forgot to be afraid and to get scared because I was so entranced by what I was seeing,” Kourouvani said. “I felt like I was floating in space, like I was on earth and the wind was coming and lifting me up.”

Now, she said, the deep is something “I won’t part with. Because now I carry it within me.


Mares & SSI launch new promotion



SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas



In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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