Stunningly beautiful theatre of movement

The Great Tamer

Dimitris Papaioannou

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A human is being dug out, it is worshipped, captured in stone, cannibalised, and searched for. The Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou employs the human body in most of his work. In his physical theatre – without text or music – he looks for the essence of humanity, beyond the body. Papaioannou does not see himself as a dancer or a choreographer, but as a visual artist – a painter on the stage who uses the human body in all its versatility. He takes minimal resources to create worlds of astounding beauty, to imbue life with the magic we so desperately need.

In the festival programme book, this performance was announced with the working title New Creation


Background information

Dimitris Papaioannou is making his debut at the Holland Festival with a new, as-yet-untitled performance. Papaioannou gained international renown for his distinctive style of physical movement and imagery. These performances can relate to Greek mythology, such as Still Life (2014), inspired by the myth of 

Sisyphus: the man who the gods condemned to push a boulder up a hill for eternity. In this new work, a group of people dig up a living body, like archaeologists unearthing a memory or adventurers discovering a new country. The body is admired, embraced, idealised and cannibalised. But also transformed, copied, cloned, cared for and cherished. The body is lost, found and sought again.

Papaioannou is a trained painter and visual artist. Since 1986, he has devoted himself to the creation of extreme image theatre, initially with his influential ensemble Edafos Dance Theatre (1986-2002) and since 2002 as an independent artist. His great, symbolic work is a hybrid of experimental dance, movement theatre and performance art, strongly influenced by Robert Wilson. In the 1990s, he also presented himself as an illustrator of subversive highly homoerotic comics. In the theatre, all of his interests came together, Papaioannou explains, 'As a painter, it was somewhere to paint pictures. As a cartoonist, it was somewhere to tell stories. And as a performer, it was a context in which I was able to physically and emotionally express myself. I also discovered that live action presented me with the opportunity to communicate directly.'

This new work builds on four fields of research that Papaioannou has been involved with since 2009: movement, sound, light and space. The human body forms the basis of Papaioannou's work. In his physical theatre – without text or music, but full of symbolism – he seeks the essence of being human. Papaioannou sees himself as a painter on the stage, who makes use of the human body in all its diversity. He uses minimum resources to create worlds of a stunning beauty, in order to enrich life with a theatrical magic.



Dimitris Papaioannou (1964) was born in Athens. As a teenager, he was trained by the iconic Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis and he studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts. Throughout the course of his career, Papaioannou has presented himself as a performer, painter, cartoonist, stage-, costume-, 


and light designer, choreographer and director. During a work period in New York under the wings of Ellen Stewart, he became acquainted with butoh and avant-garde dance. He was co-founder of Kontrosol sto Haos (1986-1992), one of the first Greek fanzines to discuss gay topics. As the principal founder of the influential company Edafos Dance Theatre (1986-2002) he conceived, directed, and choreographed all of the company’s 17 productions. In 2004, he designed and directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympic Games in Athens. In 2006 he presented his work 2 that enjoyed a successful run of 100.000 sold tickets, and in 2008 he restaged Medea that received the same success. In 2009 he presented Nowhere, the opening performance for the renovated main stage of the National Theatre of Greece. With Primal Matter (2012), Papaioannou performed for the first time in many years himself on stage. This performance premiered at the Athens Festival and toured to Thessaloniki, New York, Edinburgh, Moscow, Vicenza, Vienna, and London. In 2014 his work Still Life premiered at the Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens, and one year later he was responsible for Origins, the opening ceremony of the 1st European Games in Baku. In 2015-17 Still Life toured to theatres in Bordeaux, Paris, Milan, Stockholm, Cagliari, Santiago, Limassol, Braga, São Paulo, Antwerp, Belgrade, Montpellier, Singapore, Rennes, Seville, and Sydney. This new creation is Papaioannou's debut at the Holland Festival.




conceived, visualized + directed by
Dimitris Papaioannou
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
Giwrgos Poulious
artistic collaborator for sound
sound design and operation
Kostas Michopoulos
Johann Strauss II, An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314
music adaptation
Stephanos Droussiotis
sculpture design
Nectarios Dionysatos
costume - props painting
Maria Illia
creative - executive producer + assistant director
Tina Papanikolaou
assistant director
Stephanos Drouissiotis
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 Antonopoulou
assistants to the sculptor
Maria Papaioannou + Konstantinos Kotsis
Tzela Christopoulou
production assistant
tour manager + international relations
Julian Mommert
executive production assistant
Kali Kavvatha
Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens
CULTURESCAPES Greece 2017 (Zwitserland), Dansens Hus Sweden (Zweden), EdM Productions, Festival d’Avignon (Frankrijk), Fondazione Campania dei Festival – Napoli Teatro Festival Italia (Italië), Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxemburg), National Performing Arts Center-National Theater & Concert Hall | NPAC-NTCH (Taiwan), Seoul Performing Arts Festival | SPAF (Korea), Théâtre de la Ville - Paris (France)
executive producer
with support from
Air Carrier Sponsor