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  • Having reached a creative dead end with large productions, and being a victim of nostalgia, I decided to revisit the small-scale form, in the style of THE SONGS (1991). HUMAN THIRST was composed of six short stories: five new and one, THE LAST SONG (1990), old. All the stories explored the theme of waiting, being visited, and being left alone again.

    The work opens with an allegory called The Annunciation. Inspired by Giotto, it features paper costumes and highly illusory lighting by Alekos Yiannaros. The piece was performed by Zoi Paneriti, whose dedication to perfection was moving. The Virgin Mary is blessed with, and delivers, a child, only for him to be returned to her as a slaughtered, blood-slathered piece of meat. In a final outraged act of blasphemy, she crushes the lily given to her by the angel of the Annunciation. On a deeply personal level, this piece sprang from my need to express my anger: it appears at times in life that when you are blessed with something extraordinarily wonderful, it is unexpectedly counterbalanced by intense pain or grief.

    The second piece, The Dive, uses imagery inspired by David Hockney, one of my favourite artists, and invokes a completely different mood - weird again, but funny and camp. The music by Arvo Pärt is, however, religious. The piece features a neurotic female bather lying by a pool (rendered by a plastic sheet bearing Hockney's swimming pool imagery) who becomes uncontrollably aroused by the presence of the waiter who serves her a cocktail. It concludes with my favourite final symbolic image of HUMAN THIRST: the bather, wrapped in the plastic sheet of the pool and stood on the (now hidden) sun lounger, appears as an elongated figure holding a parasol, like a woman out of an Impressionist painting. Meanwhile the waiter, who is now dressed as a scuba diver, hangs with his top half hidden inside her watery dress and his feet suspended in the air as if diving into her vagina.

    Third up is The Steps (yet another Angeliki Stellatou triumph), which features an exquisitely designed, Lili Pezanou yellow staircase set against a black backdrop, and a woman who cannot bring herself to climb it alone, always waiting for a man to help her up. There is a happy ending to this story, which is not like me at all. After the third man has come and gone, she finally finds the courage to climb the staircase unaided. It was probably out of my love for Angeliki. The female audience loved this piece.

    Of all the work I have ever produced, the fourth segment of HUMAN THIRST, entitled The Song of '99, is my favourite. It is a simple visual equation: two identical male figures in black suits, set against a white, backlit backdrop, try to interrupt each other's trajectories in order to meet. For a brief time they become one, and then they separate again - the goer goes, and the waiter waits once more. The exact same theme was later reprised in 2 (2006) on running treadmills, with one man trying in vain to engage with the other long enough to be able to light his cigarette. The simplicity, elegance and restraint of the emotions, the timidity of the approach and the strong sense of fate, coupled with the two-dimensionality of the image, the strict black-and-white palette and the use of basic human movements such as walking, make this my signature work par excellence. It was choreographed in one day. Such gifts are rare indeed. I liked this piece so much that I incorporated it, unchanged, into FOR EVER (2001), and I had to strongly resist the temptation of doing the same whilst creating 2 (2006).

    The fifth piece was Zeimbekiko. Set to the sounds of Fleri Dadonaki's voice, it was created for Fotis Nikolaou. The gravitas of the songs and the power of the singing voice crushed me as a choreographer. I should never have attempted it. When we performed HUMAN THIRST in London in 2001, I replaced The Annunciation and Zeimbekiko with two pieces from FOR EVER (2001) - Human Nature and Insomnia.

    The role I originally performed in THE LAST SONG (1990) was taken here by Nikos Dragonas.
The Annunciation, A piece for a woman and a man (11.5 minutes)
The Dive,  Duet (11 minutes)
The Steps,  A piece for a woman and three men (7.5 minutes)
Song of '99,  Duet (4 minutes)
Zeibekiko, Solo  (9 minutes)
The Last Song, Duet (22 minutes)

Co-produced by the Municipal Regional Theatre of Patras
65 minutes
Première: 23 April 1999, at the Hora Theatre (Athens - Greece)
Won «Best Production» and «Best Female Performance» ( Angeliki Stellatou) at the Greek National Awards for Dance

Concept - Direction - Choreography: Dimitris Papaioannou
Music: Giya Kancheli, Yorgos Koumendakis, Arvo Pärt, Alexander Scriabin, Richard Strauss, Vassilis Tsitsanis, Yiannis Papaioannou, Giuseppe Verdi
Set & Costume Design: Lili Pezanou
Lighting Design: Alekos Yiannaros
Make-up: Angelos Mendis
Assistant Director: Tina Papanikolaou
Performers (1999 - 2001): Nikos Dragonas, Nikos Kalogerakis, Fotis Nikolaou, Zoe Paneriti, Tassos Papaioannou, Stavroula Siamou, Angeliki Stellatou, Yiannis Yiaples