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Papaioannou the magician

10 October 2008 / 15:10:57  GRReporter
5946 reads

Maria Spassova

Dimitris Papaioannou is making history - the history of modern ballet. His modern and classic, fragile and strong, exquisite and sensual “Medea(2)” is played in the Athenian theatre “Pallas” and the halls are full until the end of November. It is not that everybody likes it because people are disturbed by the innovative decisions of the choreographer, by the nudity on stage (not banality!), by the strange decors. Even if they do not understand him, people come to the theatre because the choreographer is the new trend.

For the ones who are spiritually connected with ballet, Papaioannou’s new work is an experience, which will never be forgotten, because it is a phenomenon of world class. Maybe people were feeling this way on the first Igor Stravinsky or Miles Davis concerts or on the first performances by Maurice Béjart or Alvin Ailey. This is a feeling of history – you are witnessing the birth of something big. With “Medea(2)” Papaioannou once again proved that he had gone beyond the European borders and is now among the best choreographers in the world.

Every time I meet him on different occasions he is always carelessly artistic, wearing a sweater with a hood and with a little beard (right now with some moustache, which is exactly like Jason’s sailormen style). I always ask myself where does his inspiration come from and where is his imagination right now. Because you really have to be very, very talented in order to be able to combine the tragic image of a mother who kills her two children, in order to revenge her infidel husband. All this is combined with 8 Bellini operas, modern décor, and breath taking costumes. When you take all of the above and mix it ala Papaioannou, then on stage you get the most erotic and poetic Metea ever played.

Of course, the dancers are to blame about this as well. Evgenia Randou gives sensuality, erotica, and elegance to Medea. The ballerina is beyond recognition in the image of her heroine. Her performance is an undisputed culmination in the act. The incredible costume – a shell, which came out from under Papaioannou’s pencil, is offering her protection and isolation every time when she needs it. This adds to the image of vulnerability and loneliness. Medea changes when she meets Jason, who is played by the incredible Yannis Nikolaidis.

In “Medea(2)” Dimitris Papaioannoi shows us that his is not scared of nudity on stage and the beauty of the nude body is made a cult. It is not an accident that the choreographer insists on the good physical condition of his dancers. The movements and positions during the sexual act between Medea and Jason are so measured, well-considered, and expressive that they make it one of the most poetic and romantic sexual acts I have ever seen on stage.

The decors of Nikos Alexiou contribute to the general flavor of classic and modern, tragic and poetic performance. The stage is water, which symbolizes the sea, on which Jason’s ship is sailing. The islands are big tables, on which the act takes place and which are complemented by huge white sails. One of the most emotional parts of the performances is Medea’s dance, when she is thorn by jealousy, passion, hate and impasse – the dance is played with exceptional skill and agility by Randou on two chairs, which at times stand on one foot, on its backrest, and on four feet, depending on the heroines’ mental state.

“Medea(2)” has very little in common with the image we remember from the ancient Greek literature or from the newer theatrical, opera or cinema interpretations. This is Papaioannou’s Medea, which aptivates and enchants. The choreographer has always said that what moves him as an artist is love – erotic and emotional but poetic and lifting. Maybe that is exactly why his arrows always fall into people’s hearts.


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