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      PRIMAL MATTER (2012) / the entire work in seventeen minutes
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  • A bit like spying on Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory and finding it has been taken over by Jacques Tati.
    “Primal Matter is often playful, sometimes poignant, occasionally disturbing; it tackles big questions with a light touch, mixing images of dismemberment, death and crucifixion with pratfalls, visual jokes and stage trickery.
    ...the pair work together with the tightness of the best comedy duos...
    Papaioannou also turns the tables on us: he opens the roller door at one end of the space to reveal all of us to the people outside... who see what they must presume are a bunch of weirdos sitting staring at a naked man on stage. The exposure turns out to be universal in Primal Matter.”

    Siobhan Murphy, London Dance, 12 October 2016
    original article
    The most unexpected and most effective pairing
    “Simply, but avoiding literal narratives or imagery, the pair worked through different permutations of their dyad: gure and shadow, doctor and patient, parent and child, Frankenstein and Monster, sculptor and statue, crucifer and crucified, body and person – and all the time, you got the nagging feeling that they were all sides of a single person.
    A wholly unexpected cross between avant-garde performance and good old-fashioned mime, Primal Matter was as fascinating as it was discombobulating – a good sign, surely, of a great piece. “
    Sanjay Roy, The Dancing Times, October 2016
    A birthplace. A memory.
    “Dimitris Papaioannou and Michalis Theophanous proved themselves Olympians in every sense of the word at the Italian première of Primal Matter last night. Olympians because, after an hour and a half on stage, the audience rewarded them with such applause that it brought them out for five curtain-calls. Olympians because, walking the line between irony and the avant-garde, their performance was enriched with explicit references to Classical Greece. ...Looking at them—and without a word—you realise why Europe, and Western culture were born in Athens. It is a birthplace, a memory, that our identity cannot forget.”

    Lorenzo Parolin, Il Giornale di Vicenza, 3 October 2015
    Poetic and heart-breaking. 
    “The fame that Dimitris Papaioannou achieved as director of the spectacular Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games cannot overshadow his stunning artistic career.... The references to, and criticism of the contemporary is poetic and heart-breaking. ...As if by magic, the reciprocal exchanges of these two bodies heighten the audience’s awareness of being part of the multitude; because we are all flesh.”
    Barbara Codogno, Corriere del Veneto, 3 October 2015
    The ancient kalos kagathos ideal is revived in the work Papaioannou. 
    Silvia Poletti,, 5 October 2015
    Poignant beauty. 
    “It is clear that the archetypes upon which the work draws are always driven by artistic acts in order to produce political thought. ...The moment where the ancient being is hoisted up onto the legs of the contemporary inevitably brings to mind the current social and political realities of Greece, and the fractured identity of its people.... It is a moment of poignant beauty.”
    Fernando Marchiori,, 6 October 2015
    Physical and spiritual osmosis. 
    “Papaioannou’s deeply expressive nature, and the intensity of his amazing talents, are revealed in his profound performances, as in the case of Primal Matter. ...The two bodies are a battlefield, matter to be moulded, between brutality and softness, between shadow and light, in a stream of consciousness generated by forced actions, by elementary gestures, by intimate attitudes which refer to social acts. ...physical and spiritual osmosis....”

    Giuseppe Distefano,, 8 October 2015
    The body between the sacred and the profane. 
    “The body between the sacred and the profane. ...Primal Matter was beautifully suited to the difficult stage of the Teatro Olimpico, and was so greatly enjoyed here that one can only hope for its swift return. ...Papaioannou is the first artist of the contemporary Greek dance scene to have turned to his country’s glorious and remote past in order reclaim his own culture. ...The work is open to infinite possibilities of interpretation.”

    Marinella Guatterini,, 18 October 2015
    Minimalist, tranquil eroticism.
    “A TRIBUTE TO C.P. CAVAFY... The program ended with the finale of Primal Matter, a theatre piece choreographed and performed by Dimitris Papaioannou, alongside (a fully nude) Michalis Theophanous. The performers supplanted each other’s limbs, slowly developing into a solitary figure — somehow evoking a certain poet’s minimalist, tranquil eroticism.”
    Geoffrey Lokke, Eye on the Arts — NY, 19 November 2013
    An intricate mediation on parts and wholes, Eros and disability
    Karen Van Dyck, Los Angeles Review of Books, 16 February 2014
    A theatre of movement, rarefied, visionary. 
    “ artist fully capable of telling the tale of the drama of today, with a visual theatre that is wide-ranging and magical. ...Dimitris Papaioannou seems to conceive of the stage as a large palette where time expands and assumes its shape within a universe of human bodies, matter and light. A painter of the stage who...succeeds in conveying an insightful understanding of contemporary society, in between ethics and morality, turning it into a theatre of movement, rarefied, visionary, rich in profound emotion, rich in fragments of history (of the Greece of yesterday and today), images of life.”
    Danza&Danza — Choreographer of the Year Award 2015for the works Primal Matter and Still Life

Concept - Direction - Set, Costumes and Lighting Design: Dimitris Papaioannou
Performers*: Dimitris Papaioannou + Michalis Theophanous
sound design: Konstantinos Michopoulos
assistant director + creative producer: Tina Papanikolaou
rehearsal director: Pavlina Andriopoulou
tour manager + international relations: Julian Mommert
technical director: Giorgos Babanaras
stage manager: Dinos Nikolaou
lighting technician: Miltos Athanasiou
assistant set designer: Dimitris Theodoropoulos
set adaptation for the tour: Tina Tzoka
Props Construction: Lazaridis Scenic Studios
Costume Production: Islam Kazi
Creative Production Assistant - Communication: Kali Kavvatha
The music theme of the performance is a "taxim" (improvisation) in bouzouki by Yiannis Papaioannou
80 minutes
Produced by the Athens Festival (2012) and 2WORKS (2013)
With the support of the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center — EMPAC (New York)
Tour produced by 2WORKS
Tour travel sponsor AEGEAN Airlines
Tour 2012 - 2016:
2012: AthensThessaloniki + Troy NY (USA)
2015: Vicenza

* Performers in the Athens Festival 2012, Dimitria Festival and EMPAC: Dimitris Papaioannou + Tadeu Liesenfeld