Review: Dimitris Papaioannou’s The Great Tamer creates “images of liquid poetry”

Dimitris Papaioannou - The Great Tamer. Photo Julian Mommert

An astronaut digging a naked body from the ground. A man whose roots come out of his shoes. A book, an orange, the sound of a skull hitting the floor. A fractured body finding itself. The beauty of two bare bodies rolling like a constant sculpture. An exquisite forearm dance. A women with legs of a man. Water and silence, a rock dancing without gravity. A feast of life and death. Bones and flying arrows. Skin.

With images of liquid poetry, Greek choreographer and visual artist Dimitris Papaioannou confront us with another reality, though one that is closer to what we are looking for.

The imagery in The great tamer is full of references, not only to his past as a painter, but to his endless search of visual stimulation outside the theater space. Goya and Rembrandt were one of the starting points for this creation.

Dimitris Papaioannou - The Great Tamer. Photo Julian Mommert
Dimitris Papaioannou – The Great Tamer. Photo Julian Mommert

The contrast of the black fabric of the performers costumes with their white bare skin is a key to the piece aesthetic. The floor, a grey undulating surface made of thin flexible boards; that break, separate and rearrange to create new spaces and scenes. The slow and patience pace of the piece makes us taste every tableau. As spectators, we are submerged in an unknown universe, timeless and raw. In his own words: “a forgotten territory that I used to dream of”.

While clapping with honest appreciation to the artistry behind this work, a sudden thought came into my head, knocking the gender door: I am not sure if Papaioannou is entirely aware of how this work can be read in gender terms. Heels and tights were only used by women and, in general terms, the use of nudity was very different from that of men and women, just to put a few examples. Closing the door now, but open to start a conversation.

Reviewed on 16th of October at Sadler’s Wells (Dance Umbrella