DIMITRIS PAPAIOANNOU: The Avant-Garde Director, Choreographer, Visual Artist And Performer


Dimitris Papaioannou was born in Athens in 1964. He trained with legendary Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis. At the age of 19, he turned his hand to comics art, and to contemporary dance in all its aspects (as a performer—director—costume, set and lighting designer). A founding member of the ground-breaking “Edafos Dance Theatre”, he created all 17 of the company’s productions. “Edafos Dance Theatre” (1986-2002) left an indelible mark on the contemporary Greek arts scene, garnering awards and invitations to appear at international festivals, and attracting a devoted following with long performance runs on major Athenian stages.


“I believe that my work has always acted therapeutically in relation to speed. I try to create the right conditions that will, on the one hand, capture the undivided attention of viewers, while at the same time capturing time. Let me tell you, however, what the technological explosion has brought about in my work: In the last few years I have been working extensively with video, images which are not primary images. I know that my work is not solely experienced by those who come to see the performances, but by many online viewers as well. I want what audiences watch from their own homes to be photogenic. My perception has changed as far as this is concerned, but not in other terms. I’m still able to do my job exclusively with what stirs my emotions”.


Papaioannou employs the simplest means, the body itself. His intellectual foundations are rooted in literature, philosophy and the notion of the archetypal. His artistic language is informal, but also supremely capacious, able to develop ideas that cross with contemporary society, ethics, divinity and the notion of ‘time in theatre performance’, with a deep range of reference to universal values that through movement become embodied ideas.


In his performance, brutality matches with soſtness; repetitive moves suggest a power that even the most unaware and indifferent must succumb to. Dimitris Papaioannou drew international recognition as creator of the opening and closing ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. An avant-garde director, a choreographer, a performer and a visual artist, he has reached out far above visual and performative arts, while his work lends authority to a new formative story-telling on identity.