THE GREAT TAMER

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      THE GREAT TAMER (2017) / a new work by Dimitris Papaioannou / trailer
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  • We dreamt about it, Papaioannou made it happen

    “Does one have to be Greek to cultivate the art of the fragmentary to such a degree? The Great Tamer is a staggering and occasionally monstrous composite of forms and images. The maiming of things and bones unearthed in the excavations amplifies a montage aesthetic (at best) and one of obliteration (at worst). It recalls an imaginary of dismemberment. Arms and legs are spread around on stage. Like archaeologists who reconstitute vessels or vases with fragments that are more or less mismatched, Dimitris Papaioannou engenders improbable human grafts whose joints defy anatomy.

    One of the most moving moments in this painstakingly constructed assortment of parts gathers up the themes: The apparition of a man, reborn unexpectedly, resembling an antique sculpture. We dreamt about it, Papaioannou made it happen.”

    Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde, 21 July 2017
    original article, translation


    simply stunning

    “An allegory of death and of the passage of time, Dimitris Papaioannou’s creation might seem indifferent or fascinating. Festival goers in Avignon simply adored it”

    Philippe Noisette, Les Echos.fr / Dance Critique, 25 July 2017
    original article, translation 


    The discovery Avignon was no longer expecting

    “The Great Tamer, by the unruly Dimitris Papaioannou, is perhaps the discovery Avignon was no longer expecting: incredibly poised, mysterious and gripping, even though it’s a series of dream images or nightmares that fit together with fluidity, and the logic of a rebus. With its meaning never divulged or pinned down, what is shown on stage is all the more commanding.”

    Anne Diatkine, Libération, 23 July 2017
    original article, translation 


    There is nothing but applause

    “Close to two hours of wordless theatre, The Great Tamer, by the Greek Dimitris Papaioannou, gets a standing ovation at La FabricA, at the end of a dreamlike magical trip that seems to range into the field of scientific enquiry, where the origin of humanity would be the object of investigation. A spectacle recommended for those from 7 to 77 years old, and those in-between, who choose not to act their age, and who are legion. Or when virtuosity takes precedence over subject matter or puts a mask on its face.”

    Yannick Butel, L’insensé Scènes Contemporaines, 24 July 2017
    original article, translation


    As if by magic.

    “The Great Tamer is a study of the body in broad daylight.”

    Stéphane Capron, Sceneweb.fr, 24 July 2017
    original article, translation


    Truly extraordinary piece


    “Papaioannou unquestionably possesses an original syntax and vocabulary. He uses it on stage to delineate surreal rituals rippling with mysteries that each one of us might work to decipher, if desirable.

    The beautiful specimens of humanity – men or women – that move before our eyes and sometimes take attitudes defying gravity or balance are dancers and Papaioannou is a choreographer. Be that as it may, it is difficult to thing of the Great Tamer as belonging to dance. It is something altogether different, never before heard of, at times.”

    Selim Lander, Mondes Francophones, 23 July 2017
    original article, translation


    The Magnificent Tamer

    “The great art of Dimitris Papaioannou, is to seduce one’s gaze by the pure magic of images stylized in the extreme, whose advent is always prepared with enormous care. Linking one into the other with great fluidity, the sequences highlight the precise realization of movements and gestures, without ever seeking to conceal their fragility.

    Dimitris Papaioannou engages in a permanent project of euphemism. Tragedy is certainly present there but it is carefully set aside. Imperceptibly, the "turns" drift towards clowning or a poetic resolution. Violence is always mitigated by a quivering sensuality, as when a young girl delicately titillates the vulnerable body of an ephebe by blowing air on him. Bearing the stamp of this fragility, the very last image, too beautiful to be disclosed, seizes us abruptly in its grip.

    The Great Tamer is a magnificent performance. It restores to its highest degree of intensity the profound mysticism of paganism. Its choreographer, Dimitris Papaioannou, invites us to greet life and beauty, by taming death.”

    Pierre Fort, Les Trois Coups, 25 July 2017
    original article, translation


    freshness and sophistication

    “all the ingredients of a tragedy are there: death, violent impulses, Hellenicity... But the tragedy here is impelled by and takes place in the fascination of the gaze. Like in the music hall, it takes on the "aspect of a pure visuality" (Roland Barthes). The spectacular is indeed assured by a succession of "turns" of magic, illusionism, acrobatics. Papaioannou "tames" his images, knows how to give off radiance by concentrating his gaze on the realization of the gesture, isolating and dismantling the parts of the body, magnifying their detail: on stage, in the accessories, in microphones amplifying the noises. But these "superlative events" are always shown up for what they are in the touching fragility of their execution.”

    Pierre Fort, I/O Gazette, 25 July 2017
    original article, translation  


    An epic of plasticity

    “The Great Tamer, a super stylized graphic epic, a comics fresco assembled by dint of illusions and circus-like effects, launches the spectator on a journey to the heart of being human; it’s an ode of sorts to the greatness of man beyond his – destructive or unseeing – pettiness. Mysticism, which here abuts to mythological representation, guides every phase of man’s uneven evolution that the Greek artist has staged in a silent spectacle with stunning scenography.

    The Great Tamer is an allegorical and fabulous journey of impregnation and beauty, sublimation and ironic darkness: an almost magical moment, captivating and successful, as it holds us in the grip of its slightest effects. Man tames his own nature, but ends by hindering himself, sinking into the core of his emptiness, letting time run away before he has mastered the balance and harmony that seem needful to him.”

    Rick Panegy, RICK ET PICK, 19 July 2017
    original article, translation


    An hour and forty minutes given to the pleasure of the eyes and of our intelligence.

    “Dimitris Papaioannou presents his work at the Avignon Festival for the first time, and it is a great spectacle, funny, moving, virtuosic: as such it was welcomed with enthusiasm by the public. You must rush to see if there are any seats left. Otherwise, you can find it at the Théâtre de la Ville/La Villette in Paris this coming March.”

    Mireille Davidovici, Theatre du blog, 19 July 2017
    original article, translation


    A theatre of grace and poetry

    Muriel Maalouf, RFI, 25 July 2017
    original article, translation


    A rough, rare, and unique diamond, cut for the stage, sparkling with beauty

    “He enjoys playing on the collective imaginary – the mythological references are there: we will allude in particular to the figure of Demeter and the seasons, to Narcissus or even Sisyphus – but he comes to refine them and give them a twist that removes them from the commonplace.

    Thus he brings forth a dreamlike song of a thousand colours, a polyphony of sensations and emotions. What he treats of through this roiling poetry is huge.

    The images speak for themselves and evoke for each viewer very singular sensations, so the expanse of the set becomes a mental projection immersed in the subconscious and intimate make-up of each individual.

    We emerge as if from a long dream which remains an enigma to us, the analysis of which is enormous, but which always continues, time and again, to question the abysses in our being. These are our profoundest fears, our most intimate desires, the psychic complexity of the body and the human mind. The physical quality of the ten dancers is utterly arresting, and quite singular in each one of the interpreters”

    Jean Hostache, Un Fauteuil Pour l'Orchestre, 23 July 2017
    original article, translation


    clinical poetic of glacial beauty

    “Vanitas and death are magnified with extreme meticulousness in The Great Tamer, which is a clinical poetic of glacial beauty, that invades the set on stage, and the soul of the performers.”

    Hervé Ponsle, Les inRocKs, 24 July 2017
    original article, translation


    Rarely has the body, denuded, assailed, mistreated, and cut to pieces, been so much exposed on stage

    “Transformations, excavations, dissimulation, fragmentation, the creation of the Greek Dimitris Papaioannou, invited to the Festival of Avignon for the first time, never ceases to explore the body through a geography of time and affects. We go from Greek mythology to the great butchery of 1914-1918.His ten performers, seven men and three women, are prodigious exemplars of tension, virtuosity and inspiration in this scenography for fragmented bodies, all done in black and white. A great moment of total art, enigmatic and powerful.”

    Hélène Kuttner, Artistik Rezo, 21 July 2017
    original article, translation   


    An inexhaustible image-maker, an immense artist

    “Dimitris Papaioannou, seduces with his Great Tamer. He even takes a new direction and pursues his work as a magician with the volleys of arrows of golden wheat – semi-antique semi-modern – forever on the quest for beauty.

    A spectacle that does not leave us indifferent at the moment when the skull tumbles down to the ground, which belonged to the skeleton of this child killed by persecution – Hamlet and the whole of Theatre comes back to us – like the Passion, which, even today, is our daily lot, and, more than anything, with our indifference revealing a hard world, of diminished solidarity, our need for consolation is quite impossible to assuage.”

    Emmanuel Serafini, Inferno magazine.com, 20 July 2017
    original article, translation 


    A fabulous fresco on human existence

    “When darkness falls on this humanity, which for an hour and a half has been trying to tame time, intimacy, death, the public is dumbstruck: then rises to a standing ovation. Surely the most beautiful show in this year’s festival!”

    Chloé Salmona, Radio Classique, 25 July 2017
    original article, translation 


    Fragile beauty

    “On the way back from Dimitris Papaioannou's The Great Tamer, I thought I should not write. Because words cannot give an account of the fragile beauty of this world for dreaming that he offers us and makes us share for almost two hours. Because the attempt to circumscribe an aesthetic emotion by using words is bound to fail.

    One shouldn’t have to write in order not to attach each image and each moment to specific references, and allow them thus not to be tamed and to stroll again through the imagination of the spectator. By looking for ways not to write, images come back in, haphazardly, and weave echoes, distorting reflections rather than rational linkages – a way of reprising these excavations that give the show its structure in our own memory as a spectator.”

    Chloé Larmet, L’insensé Scènes Contemporaines, 21 July 2017
    original article, translation


    A tragedy that feeds on beauty. A triumph.

    “It makes us captive, clinging to those images that go through beauty and through form to tell the ugly. It is a rare power. The director hijacks classic circus turns, such as contortionism, to achieve zany pictorial figurations. He is a magician who sublimates small things (a fake metal arm), erasing words so that images be made to speak.

    Magnificent.”

    Amelie Blaustein Niddam, Toute la culture, 20 July 2017
    original article, translation


    Archaeology of the Flesh

    “the Hellenistic nude, descendant of the Archaic period, forever marked the elegance of showing the human figure as it is and that all subsequent inventions simply follow in those same fascinating footsteps. This is the reason why nobody can remain impassive before such an image and it is precisely this that Papaioannou exploits, with great refinement, and assisted by well-focused and rigorous symbols of carnality, which eventually becomes transparent. It is exactly there where the Greek director goes to excavate. A labour that involves joining the fragments of a disaster just as cosmic in nature as it is quotidian, a modality of an archaeology of suffering, the attempt to put order to (or explain) the chaos that prevails”

    Roger Salas, EL PAÍS, 13 July 2017
    original article


    The Sublime Beauty of Papaioannou

    “undoubtedly magnificent proof of the enormous visual talent of one of the best creators of the Mediterranean vanguard, an artist with whom Madrid had a pending appointment”

    José Luis Romo, elmundo, 12 July 2017
    original article


    Journey to the Most Hidden Depths of Existence

    “The audience’s enthusiastic reception leaves no room for doubt about the magic of the laborious staging, which evolves like a journey of discovery of that which is most profound in human existence, exploring in an archeological and anatomical fashion the hidden and sacred meaning of life.”

    César López Rosell, elPeriodico, 4 July 2017
    original article


    The beauty of truth

    “this extraordinary spectacle: a spectacle that comes alive, with beating pulse. Steps and beats that disregard the rules. Unruly in their startling regularity, amazing awareness of movement, presence on stage of light, time, materials, the material to pose poetic questions: What do we know about us? What do we know? We continue along, knowing nothing, a nothingness that we have to face, each one of us, in order to return to nothing. To leave our still lives. To which our present society, as an aesthetic ingredient, contributes the artistic element of a garbage bin liner, stuffed with metal waste.”

    Antonio Hernández Nieto, SulPontiello.com, 15 July 2017
    original article


    exquisite nourishment for the senses

    “This Greek creator, of a theatricality dominated by his training in the visual arts, is a true master at dealing in aesthetics as a total absolute.”

    Juan Carlos Olivares Padilla, EL PAÍS, 5 July 2017
    original article


    2017: Odyssey Above and Below the Earth

    “He never belies his culture, or his roots, or denies the fact that he is a consumate visual artist, a tragedian and a Greek at heart. After wrestling with Sisyphus (in Still Life, in 2014) and the duet-masterpiece Primal Matter in 2012, a contemplation on the sacred and the profane, Dimitris Papaioannou has now approached the myth of Persephone in The Great Tamer, his latest, magnificent creation, convincing him to relinquish the role of true protagonist to the scenography itself”

    Marinella Guatterini, Il Sole 24 Ore, 5 July 2017
    original article


    surreal masterpiece by Athenian Dimitris Papaioannou

    “Awareness and hope are characteristic of a work that does not end with the final curtain, but sows its seed in the spectator’s head, a seed that will then take hold and grow into one’s conscience, put out roots and remain there ever after, opening up new pathways for the interpretation of a humanity that has not been forsaken yet. A roar, a standing ovation, unending applause: Papaioannou's triumph overwhelms Naples, Neapolis, the city that owes its existence to the Greeks.”

    Manuela Barbato, Artribune, 10 July 2017
    original article


    a vast and original celebration of the ephemeral

    “The most original choreographer of our time, which is so rich in multidisciplinary approaches – where dance can be transformed into theatrical dramaturgy or videotaped narrative or a project in the visual arts, and where the visual arts evolve into performance and physical expression – is most likely Dimitris Papaioannou of Greece.”

    Leonetta Bentivoglio, La Repubblica, 2 July 2017


    An evocative visual poem

    “If the Greek choreographer is known as a craftsman of anatomy, in this project this ability expands into the surrounding space. On stage has been built a laminar structure which seems to undulate; this structure, in combination with the lighting, is moulded and remolded creating new dimensions, itineraries, instrumentalities but chiefly with the purpose of its being itself transformed into a metaphor. A poetic reference to the Earth: mother of humanity, ultimate destination of relics and remains, cradle of fecundity.”

    Giada Ruoppo, campadidanza, 27 June 2017
    original article


    a quest for the generative layers of human existence


    “This repeated sequence of motions, which is a rejection of death, marks the commencement of the arresting and hypnotic journey of exploration in the heart of a humanity at the origins of the world, where Papaioannou’s genius projects the present and the future in a sequence that does not follow some given narrative, but makes references to imaginary eras and worlds.”

    Giuseppe Distefano, cittanuova, 1 July 2017
    original article


    A means to shape dreams

    “In the hands of the Greek creator the indecipherable and the ineluctable become weightless and malleable. The notion of taboo, as in children, does not exist; death is not taboo, the body is not taboo.

    The Great Tamer is the world as seen by a child. Or perhaps, under the force of his necessity, by a fool. Or, maybe, just by a true artist”

    Chiara Reale, racnamagazine, 29 June 2017
    original article


    A theatre of transformation

    “Physical theatre with remarkable specific weight and without words. The Great Tamer, like a circus lion tamer, is a way of denoting authority, while remaining outside its control, because Time is perhaps the real and greatest tamer, in a circus such as the one envisioned by Dimitris Papaioannou, which always stays poised on the threshold of a nightmare, in which everybody is looking for grace. An environment in which the meaning of life is being searched for.

    If it be true that the ego, as Freud would have it, is essentially absolute in relation to the body, in the experience of Papaioannou’s dance-theatre the notion of the psychosomatic appears naked and in many blinding variations, though positioned at the edge of shadows.”

    Riccardo Limongi, Teatroit, 26 June 2017
    original article


    A wonderful encounter with a Greek dreamer

    “Thanks to his past, Papaioannou proposes a unique world, in which poetry predominates in all of its eerie beauty.”

    Erica Smits, Theaterkrant, 18 June 2017
    original article


    The Greek spectacle The Great Tamer was a sheer delight

    "This past weekend something very different came from the cradle of democracy, Greece. The Great Tamer was not about anything in particular. And that was so wonderful.

    In reality this choice, of not clearly making reference to anything, is one of the best ways of dealing with life – if you live in present-day Greece. That country has saddled the rest of Europe with an unthinkable debt. The irony of it is that we, the spectators in Amsterdam, can determine how the Greeks must live their lives in the coming fifty years. It is a very lengthy, unforeseeable space of time for all those involved and constitutes inhuman punishment for the consolidation of their debt. Therefore, The Great Tamer is a perfect response from the country that shoulders the renown of having conceived the values of our polity, in the past, and of inventing our theatre.

    Wijbrand Schaap, Cultuurpers, 19 June 2017
    original article


    Balance is a big word

    "If the Greek director Dimitris Papaioannou wanted to allude with this stage scenery to the condition of his homeland, then he did it perfectly. If he wanted to give the absurd double-facedness of modern curricula a universal space, no less. Of course, the 53-year-old theater star from Athens wants both. Papaioannou – visual artist, comics designer, choreographer, cosmopolitan - has a mind for the big whole and a hand for the miniature. He can lead Olympic mass spectacles and invent intimate chamber play scenes. His art is accordingly in demand."

    Stephan Reuter, Basler Zeitung, 07 October 2017
    original article, translation

    you could see the soul emerging from the performers’ chests and assume a shape.


    “Throughout the performance this is what is being put to the test: quashing the laws of nature. One hundred minutes against the brute force of planetary gravity where, in this struggle, the human silhouette manages to transform itself into a bubble, and then into the substance of a Victorian canvas, and then into an ineffable vision right out of Giotto. You would see the rigid bulk of a body change substance and shed its foliage into the air. There were moments when you could see the soul emerging from the performers’ chests and assume a shape. And do that with a precision of design, in fully geometrical terms, with figures and proof, just as Timaeus describes the soul in the philosophical dialogue with Socrates. So, in general, let me ask you: have you ever touched a human soul?”

    Sampson Rakas, ASSODYO , 6 June 2017
    original article


    a shiver overwhelming one’s soul
    “This activity of “incorporation” involves an erotic aspect permeating the stage unrestrictedly, giving off a sense of continual sensory interaction, a primordial and needful element of human existence, not to say of life as such, reverberating in the spectator and transmitting an intense sense of a shiver overwhelming one’s soul. Such transformations – a ploy dear to Dim. Papaioannou – visually lend the raiment of poetry to the entire process.
    Thus is generated a set of powerful visuals, playful references to Art history, to modalities of expressivity and performance, and to questions on our origins too. The creator’s intention is to highlight the sacredness inherent in everything that’s commonplace or untouched by grace. Therefore the dynamic emerging in perceiving and acting in this manner is, of its very self, a revolutionary act.”

    Zoe Toli, Enetpress, 31 May 2017
    original article


    An ark filled with fragments and memories of human civilization

    Years ago NASA launched a capsule beyond our solar system, containing a few records of humanity’s traces and heritage, to travel through time and toward the future, as a humble statement of existence. As one watches the new piece by Dimitris Papaioannou one could get the sense that that capsule has encountered its stage form. An ark filled with fragments and memories of human civilization that tremblingly shimmer before our eyes as a series of black and white GIFs, like forgotten scenes from the time when cinema was born.
    The moment of maturity to which he has arrived, both as an artist and as a man, seems to have led Dimitri Papaioannou to reflect upon time as the most definitive and overpowering force looming over nature and life: time as the reaper, cause of decay, perpetrator of death.”

    Stella Charami, tospirto.net, 30 May 2017
    original article
     
     
    Wound and Wonder.

    “Papaioannou moves with aplomb, and a marvelous sense of economy, as he traverses the history of art, from antiquity to our day, hoarding such treasures as his piece calls for. The narrative evolves easily with continuous recursions-reminders of the end, such as the still lifes of 17th century Flemish painting. A skull will accompany the still life of the epilogue. Our only certainty is death, yet the piece progresses at a far remove from any pretence at solemnity or penchant for the macabre. Thanks to his invocation of the absurd, where there is nothing suffused with normality, and anything might happen, associations are set free. For that matter, humans are the only animals not content with what they are. From idealization to deconstruction, or to gender studies, with his inventive composite sculptural arrangements where the demarcation of the sexes is put in question, or his male duos – the emblem of his most successful transition from comics to stage was “Song ’99” – where the erotic object coincides with the ego per se of the individual, Papaioannou unfolds his many gifts: genius, percipience, audacity – yes, this play at the individual and collective level requires audacity to impel and inspire an outstanding team of associates and performers.”

    Klimentini Vounelaki, bookpress.gr, 1 June 2017
    original article


    metaphysical, coherent, committed.

    “As a truly inspired creator, Dimitris Papaioannou has been for many years the maker and mover of a self-directed artistic universe. His domain, metaphysical, coherent, committed, fully recognizable (for he chooses to make it so), even though undeniably personal, remains hospitable and wide open to visitors (well-meaning or no). It’s as if he accepts exposure as being integral to the game of creation (and perhaps as its key object).”

    * Jirashimosu, 1 June 2017
    original article


    gallery of truth.

    “Bizarre images, hybrid creatures, apparent disharmonies recurring time and again in the performance seem like the paradoxically juxtaposed expressions we often find in poetry. Of course the poetry here is purely corporeal. By means of bodies the artist leads us to a profoundly personal, yet holistic in its way, account of humanity’s existence, from birth to death and (possibly) even beyond.”

    Aimilios Charbis, KATHIMERINI, 30 May 2017
    original article


    nigh transcendental – force.

    “Few artists have managed to bring to the stage a sense of fantasy, dream, or philosophy with Dimitri Papaioannou’s – well-nigh transcendental – force, or with his intuitive finesse.”

    Maria Kryou, Athenorama, 27 May 2017
    original article

2017 / THE GREAT TAMER / A PIECE FOR TEN PERFORMERS
 
 
Conceived + directed by: Dimitris Papaioannou

Performers: Pavlina Andriopoulou, Costas Chrysafidis, Ektor Liatsos, Ioannis Michos, Evangelia Randou, Kalliopi Simou, Drossos Skotis, Christos Strinopoulos, Yorgos Tsiantoulas, Alex Vangelis

Set Design + Art Direction in collaboration with: Tina Tzoka
Artistic Collaborator for costumes: Aggelos Mendis
Lighting Designed in collaboration with: Evina Vassilakopoulou
Artistic Collaborator for sound: Giwrgos Poulios
Sound Design and operation: Kostas Michopoulos
Music: Johann Strauss II, An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314
Music Adaptation: Stephanos Droussiotis
Sculpture Design: Nectarios Dionysatos
Costume – Props Painting: Maria Ilia
Creative - Executive Producer + Assistant Director: Tina Papanikolaou
Assistant Director: Stephanos Droussiotis
Assistant Director + Rehearsal Director: Pavlina Andriopoulou

Technical Director: Manolis Vitsaxakis
Stage Manager: Dinos Nikolaou
Assistant Sound Engineer: Nikos Kollias

Assistant to the Set Designer – Set Painter: Mary Antοnopoulou
Assistants to the Sculptor: Maria Papaioannou + Konstantinos Kotsis
Production Assistant: Tzela Christopoulou

Tour Manager + International Relations: Julian Mommert
Executive Production Assistant: Kali Kavvatha
 
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Première: 24 May 2017, Onassis Cultural Centre - Athens Main Stage.

Find out when & where - here

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