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PRESS REVIEW

nº88 / DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU / INK / PARIS

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INK BODY WATER rewrite mythology. Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou is certainly one of the most powerful contemporary dancers of our time. In his site-specific new creation INK, at the Theatre de la Ville, Paris, and earlier at Sadler’s Wells, London, he interweaves the body with visual art, and a duet is performed with dancer Šuka Horn.




Review by Zoltan Alexander

Based on a write-up of Robert Gyulai



THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert

DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU 

 INK ) Throughout 2023, Dimitris Papaioannou conquered many capitals around the world with INK before coming to Paris this May. The anticipation was palpable as the star of contemporary dance waited over a year to bring his show to the Paname, following his previous performances in Athens, Milano, Rome, Budapest, Seoul and London.


Two men, two bodies, two ages, an octopus, and a lot of water. With INK, Dimitris Papaioannou has daringly devised a torrential metaphor for existence, the quintessence of his choreographic art and of uncanny intensity on stage.


As the lights go down in the theatre, the epic proportion of the set becomes magic mixed with Greek mythology, plastic, and a lot of water. The stage is flooded with water, constantly pouring over the choreography, and producing a specific sound that leads the movement. It is a scenic action delimited by plastic sheets covering the walls, and the sound, produced by the irrigation system, the cardinal junction of a peculiar, hermetic, atavistic story. 



THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert



On stage, the transparent foil creates a fluid wall, and the entire space is covered with translucent, plastic sheets. Ethereal in its simplicity. A garden hose repetitively sprays water on the walls, giving the piece its tempo and an inter-generational conversation with Pina Bausch’s epic work Vollmond.


Touching on his Greek roots, Papapioannou whispers the words of Hesiod: “In the beginning, there was Chaos, a yawning nothingness”.


 


THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
"INK" by Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn / Photos © Courtesy of Julian Mommert

At that instance, the solitary dancer appears on stage, and the audience is captivated by his magnetic presence. Lonely, he finds solace in the repetitive nature of his action, and by instinct he conjures up a character on stage. Unaware of how this naked creature appears, and it takes a moment or two to capture it.


Played by the Apollonian Šuka Horn, the pair couldn’t be more different. Whilst Papaioannou is dressed in ink-black, making the set an extension of himself, Horn’s marble-like nakedness cuts into the darkness of the space. As he tries to contain and even enslave the fleeting apparition of this young creature, Papaioannou is presented as an archetypical father, older lover, and tyrant. Scenes of both tender gentleness and stark aggression ensue. It is impossible not to appreciate the beauty of the two men as they slither on top of each other tight in an epic battle for dominance.



THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
"INK" by Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn / Photos © Courtesy of Julian Mommert

Horn is trapped and freed, hugged and tied up. Papaioannou is both hunter and hunted in a dynamic role-play that is infused with physical and sexual tension. A mirror of today’s society that obsessively captures the fleeting moments of life, thus destroying it.  As a tool of his aggression, the prop of an octopus is a nod to both Greek mythology and Japanese erotic symbolism.


As a painter turned choreographer, Papaioannou is no stranger to archetypes and references. The show is infused with multiple meanings, from the purely visual to the deeply symbolic. Inviting the audience on a cultural journey, Papaioannou hints at Hellenistic sculptures, Atlante Farnese, renaissance paintings like Mantegna’s The Lamentation of Christ, Japanese Shunga by Utagawa or Hokusai, and in addition the German expressionist cinema.


 


THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
"INK" by Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn / Photos © Courtesy of Julian Mommert

I created a show, which was born from a deep and personal emotional flow, an emotional state very different from my previous works.” Dimitris Papaioannou


As time goes by, the scenes get increasingly elaborated, both visually and physically. More and more complex traps and games lead to the most tender moment of the show. The exhausted Papaioannou at the edge of the stage, surrounded by staccato of dry reed, is approached by the animalistic vision of Horn. A sensual and meticulously constructed love scene takes place, where the hunted creature becomes domesticated, and falls in love with its captor. Imminent disaster is in the air, charged by the sensuality of the bodies pulsating, caressing, touching each other.



THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn - INK - photo Julian Mommert
"INK" by Dimitris Papaioannou with Šuka Horn / Photos © Courtesy of Julian Mommert

In the final crescendo, we are pushed into Papaioannou’s nightmare. The display of a captured animal for the entertainment of the public. Recreating a classic circus act, Horn becomes a contortionist, a trained tiger, a freak show. Papaioannou finally loses control over his prey, and Horn comes out victorious, on top of a defeated master. Their dynamic relationship alludes to erastes, an older active partner, and eromenos, a beautiful, youthful-looking man.

 

An essentially Greek concept, it represents the true love between an older man and a younger, intellectually and sexually embodied by the love between Apollo and Hyacinthus. The dancers’ chemistry is explosive, it underlines mutual respect and admiration for each other, giving the performance a poignant veneer of authenticity. A beautiful, powerful representation of male affection and relationships without any unnecessary artifice of social constructs and expectations.

 

The show is a tour de force, a true masterpiece.

 



 


INDEX



THE INSTIGATOR Dimitris Papaioannou - INK photo Julian Mommert


COVER

Photo © Courtesy of Dimitris Papaioannou

Cover design © ZOLTAN+MEDIA London

 

PERFORMANCE

INK

13 – 15 May 2024

Theatre de la Ville, Paris (France)

 

PHOTOGRAPHS / COURTESY OF THE FOLLOWING ARTISTS

Julian Mommert for Dimitris Papaioannou / Greece

Theatre de la Ville, Paris / France


PHOTOGRAPHS

© curated by Zoltan Alexander 

 

WEBDESIGN

© ZOLTAN+MEDIA London

 

THEATRE DE LA VILLE PARIS


DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU




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