The Greek artist Dimitris Papaioannou has been commissioned for Tanztheater Wuppertal's first new, evening-long performance since the death of Pina Bausch. Papaioannou considers himself a painter on the stage. He uses the human body in all its versatility in his movement-based art. His previous work The Great Tamer, full of dark poetry and alienation, made an unforgettable impression at last year's Holland Festival. This year is the first time he is working with Pina Bausch's world famous dance ensemble. It is the first time Dimitris Papaioannou creates a work for another group.
Born in Athens in 1964, Dimitris Papaioannou gained early recognition as a painter and comics artist, before his focus shifted to the performing arts, as director, choreographer, performer, and
designer of sets, costumes, make up, and lighting. He was a student of the iconic Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis before studying at the Athens School of Fine Arts. He formed Edafos Dance Theatre, in 1986 as an initial vehicle for his original stage productions, hybrids of physical theatre, experimental dance, and performance art. Originating in the underground scene, the company challenged perceptions and gained an expanding number of dedicated followers. Medea (1993) marked the company’s transition to big theatres and is considered its iconic work. The Edafos company spanned 17 years, to 2002, and set its indelible stamp on the arts scene in Greece. Papaioannou became widely known in 2004, as the creator of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Restarting in 2006, with his production 2, he found himself in the position of creating avant-garde works in major theatres in Athens that enjoyed record-breaking long runs. In 2009, he began using this platform to create theatrical experiments on a large scale: Nowhere (2009) for the inauguration of the renovated Greek National Theatre and Inside (2011) for the Pallas Theater.
In 2012, stripping down his work to bare essentials, he created Primal Matter for the Athens Festival, with him back on stage after a ten-year absence. On the same quest for simplicity, he created Still Life (2014), the first work that toured extensively in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. In 2015, he created the Opening Ceremony for the Baku 2015 First European Games. Papaioannou’s 25 productions range from mass spectacles with thousands of performers, to intimate pieces, and have appeared in a wide variety of venues, from his famous underground squat theater in Athens, to the ancient theatre in Epidaurus, and from Olympic stadiums to Théâtre de la Ville – Paris, and Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza. In 2017, he created The Great Tamer, his first international co-commissioned work with ten co-producers, including the Festival d’Avignon. The Great Tamer is on an international tour, scheduled until 2019.
For 44 theatre seasons now, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch has stood for energy, wisdom, creative experimentation, dedication and passion. The company performs dance productions that take an unflinching look at reality, while also giving the audience the courage to stay true to their deepest desires and dreams. From 1973 until her death in 2009 choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch (1940-2009) shaped an uncompromising dance vision together with her company. A living legend, Bausch was a radical innovator who increasingly pushed aside conventional forms of dance to make room for pure, natural movement. She also took a multidisciplinary approach using the personal experiences and emotions of her performers as a starting point. Over the years, Bausch managed to forge a tight-knit group of performers committed to her work, which has been beautifully portrayed in Wim Wenders' documentary Pina (2011). She was awarded countless prestigious awards, including the Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1997), the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennial (2007) and the Kyoto Prize (2007). The French Ministry of Culture also honoured her with the titles Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et de Lettre (1991) and Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (2003).
Since the 2017/18 season Adolphe Binder is intendant and artistic director of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: along with the company’s dancers and creative collaborators, she will maintain Pina Bausch’s huge repertoire along with the partnerships formed through decades of touring, and lead the company into a dynamic future by bringing in contemporary choreographers and generating new works. As Binder says about the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, ‘Bausch’s approach revolves around a quest, breaking through boundaries, a hunger to know what moves people. This is what inspires us but also drives us to forge new paths and look at the world through new eyes. The company’s tradition is one of unshakeable curiosity and courage, never tiring of asking questions and demanding more freedom.’
This season it is combining key works from different periods of Bausch’s career with two entirely new productions (New Piece I & II), created by Dimitris Papaioannou and Alan Lucien Øyen respectively. Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch now encompasses three generations of dancers from 19 countries, all of whom express Pina Bausch’s vision with passion. The Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch has made fifteen previous contributions to the Holland Festival, the most recent one being a performance of the iconic Nelken (2016). The production New Piece I, created together with Dimitris Papaioannou, is the first time the company will present a completely new creation at the Holland Festival since Bausch’s passing.
- conceived and directed by
- Dimitris Papaioannou
- Ruth Amarante, Michael Carter, Silvia Farias Heredia, Ditta Miranda Jasjfi, Scott Jennings, Milan Kampfer, Blanca Noguerol Ramírez, Breanna O’Mara, Franko Schmidt, Azusa Seyama, Ekaterina Shushakova, Julie Anne Stanzak, Oleg Stepanov, Julian Stierle, Michael Strecker, Tsai-Wei Tien, Ophelia Young
- rehearsal direction
- Barbara Kaufmann
- Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
- Théâtre de la Ville / La Villette, Sadler’s Wells, Onassis Cultural Centre-Athens, Holland Festival
- with support
- Kunststiftung NRW