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Cultural Olympiad


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1-5 June 2008 / Athens / Peiraios 206 Premiere / Sold out

5 June -8 Jule 2008 / Beijing / National Center for performing Arts

from 1 October 2008 / Athens / Athens Pallas Theater


Fifteen years have passed since the first performance of Medea (1993), Dimitris Papaioannou's signature work and unquestionably the most inspired achievement of Edafos Dance Theatre, an ensemble that left an indelible mark on the Greek dance-theatre scene of recent times. This inventive, water-bound retelling of the Medea myth was warmly received on its travels round the world, enchanting audiences with its visual power and ingenious coupling of silent, stylised movement with the drama of Bellini's operas. Glowingly reviewed by the international press, the work has well endured the passage of time.


This year, Papaioannou returns to take a fresh look at Medea, bringing the wealth of his experience to bear on this historic and accomplished work. Reworking the production with an all-new cast, he seeks to isolate and convey the essence of what made the original version so captivating.


Medea: Evangelia Randou

Jason: Yiannis Nikolaidis

Dog: Aris Servetalis

Glauce: Katerina Liontou

Sun: Fevos Papadopoulos

Argonauts: Nikos Dragonas, Michalis Elpidoforou, Altin Huta, Nikos Kalogerakis,

Tassos Karachalios, Konstantinos Karvouniaris, Fevos-Thomas Kyriakou,

Agni Papadeli-Rossetou, Vagelis Telonis, Simon Tsakiris


A Commission of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture for the Cultrural Year of Greece in China

A co-production of the Athens Festival, Elliniki Theamaton and DYO.


Sponsors: Theodoros & Gianna Angelopoulos

For more Information: Athens Edidaurus Festival 2008

Unfortunately i couldnt find any Information for playtimes in Beijing as the China National Center for Performing Arts is only in chinese.

This is a fantastic play and i wonder if someone of the chinese forumers will attend the play.


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Thanks for the heads-up. I have read this play and love it, but have never seen it performed live. Maybe I will go. As for showtimes, this site might be helpful--look by the yellow vertical bar "National Center for the Performing Arts". Medea is listed for August 1 and 2 at the NCPA (the Egg), 7:30 pm.

On a more general note, if any GB'ers happen to be in Beijing this summer, even if not during the Games themselves, there will be a lot of Chinese and international cultural performances and exhibitions going on, esp late in June and throughout July. The link given above is a reliable ticket booking site for those of you who like to preplan. By international standards, lots of reasonable prices but the cheapest seats tend to go the quickest.

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  • 2 months later...

Interview with Dimitris Papaioannou, Director of Medea II

This weekend the Cultural Ministry in the Olympic Spirit bring us the fascinating retelling of the Greek tradegy set to dance, Medea II. City Weekend spoke with the famous Director and Choreographer, Dimitris Papaioannou.

Dimitris Papaioannou's ground-breaking creative direction of the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony – hailed a "triumph" by Time magazine and The Times of London – is widely considered a high-water mark of large scale spectacle.

Born in Athens, Greece in 1964, Dimitris Papaioannou first attracted attention at the age of 19 as a painter, comics artist and illustrator. While still a student at the School of Fine Arts he took the Greek dance scene by storm, exploding the boundaries between theatre, dance and the visual arts, working not only as a choreographer and performer, but also in the areas of costume, lighting, make-up and set design.

Co-founder of Edafos Dance Theatre in 1986, he conceived, directed and choreographed all of the company's productions. Edafos radically reshaped the Greek performing arts landscape over its 16 years and 17 works. L'Unità described the company as "a revelation." "Greece Rediscovered" headlined Le Figaro's review of Medea, while the New York Times praised the piece for its "striking intensity" and "extraordinary passion."

Medea (1993) won "Best Choreography" at the Greek National Awards for Dance, while Human Thirst (1999) and For Ever (2001) both garnered "Production of the Year" awards.

Beyond his work with Edafos Dance Theatre, Papaioannou has directed operas and large-scale music shows. His latest work, 2 (2006), enjoyed an unprecedented run in the Greek capital, with over 100,000 tickets sold.

In 2005, Dimitris Papaioannou was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of Honour by the President of the Hellenic Republic for outstanding artistic achievement.


CW: Medea is such a violent story. What does it mean to you?

DP: Medea is a betrayal story, Medea is a love story, it is a woman's story, and all these elements interest me. But what interests me most of all is to find solutions for telling a story – any story – without the use of language.

CW: What is the difference between your original production of MEDEA and this one, MEDEA II? How does water element help retelling the myth in Medea II? Comparing with Medea, what are the advantages of Medea II. How do you manage to put ancient elements and modern elements together?

DP: The new MEDEA is brighter, simpler and more refined than the original. It remains exactly the same work, but is inhabited by an all-new cast, and those performers bring their own energies to the production.

The use of water is actually the key element for the arrangement of space in the dance of MEDEA. The suspense builds through the presence of water, and the evolution of the water's symbolism – starting as the sea and ending as blood – are basic elements of my story-telling.

Being a modern personality, every time I incorporate my experience of ancient art into my work, it becomes modern by itself. I do not think anyone should be anxious to be modern. This happens automatically when we are honest with our creations.

CW: Why do you choose to bring this piece in particular to Beijing this year?

DP: This original production, staged in 1993, included elements and experiments of mine regarding Greek identity that were later applied on a huge-scale in the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. I thought that this would interest the Chinese audience to see, only days before the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

CW: What do you expect the reaction from the Chinese audience to be?

DP: I always dream of moving the audience.

CW: What was it like working on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics?

It was a life-changing experience. Agonizing, but nevertheless exciting.

CW: Your ground-breaking creative direction of the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony is widely considered a high-water mark of large scale spectacle. Could you tell us how long it takes to bring out this design plan? And where does Inspiration come from?

DP: It took three years to materialise a script that was created in four months. The technical and aesthetic challenges were enormous, and we had to concentrate intensely on the quality of the materialisation. I have no idea where inspiration comes from, all artists seek it. In the meantime, until it comes, it's hard work, work, work.

CW: Could you describe your cooperation with Zhang YiMou in the Closing Ceremony of Athens 2004 Olympic Games? What in your opinion represents Chinese Traditions? Do you agree that "red" represents China?

DP: The collaboration with Zhang Yimou on the Closing Ceremony was harmonious, even though we did not interact a lot. I found that our contact in an off-the-record meeting we had last year was more relaxed and human than when we collaborated in Athens. It would be superficial of me, not having an in-depth knowledge of China, to express an opinion about what represents China.

CW: Do you have any advice for the artists working on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Games?

DP: Who am I to give advice to such an experienced and well-known artist, Zhang Yimou? I look forward to seeing what he and his team have prepared for the world. Advice and experience may perhaps have been useful one year ago. At the moment, I am happily waiting to be surprised by China.

CW: What is your impression of the relationship between China and Greece (two very ancient cultures)? What similarities and differences do you find between the two?

DP: I do not know enough about the enormous Chinese culture to be justified in my opinions. Having traveled to China quite a few times over the last year, I am learning more, and hope to continue learning.

CW: How did you move from the fine arts scene to dance? And how do you find your experience in fine arts affects your choreography?

DP: It seemed the natural thing to do, creating live paintings. And it happened to me first, I only realized it afterwards. I like to think that I am a painter who directs and choreographs. I understand through my vision, and I feel through my vision.

CW: Tell us more about Edafos Dance Theatre.

DP: For 17 years, Edafos Dance Theatre was the vehicle for my experimentations in performance art. My fellow artists of the company and I shared the best times of our lives. It was fun to play, to realise that we were dramatically influencing the Athenian arts scene. The years of Edafos Dance Theatre will always have a special place in my heart.

CW: Tell us more about how you develop your choreography.

DP: It depends. At times, I have ideas in my head and emotions in my heart, and I organize a workshop with the performers and we explore possibilities. Through this procedure, I realize more and more what I want to do, I collect elements, and then I compose. Other times, as with MEDEA for instance, I know the play in my head, and I use rehearsals to extract from the performers what I have envisioned.

CW: What do you expect to see on the Opening Ceremony of Athens 2004 Olympic Games on August 8? Are you going to watch it in Beijing?

DP: I will have returned to Greece and will have left for my holidays when the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics is presented. I do hope to see a rehearsal when I am in Beijing, and I forbid myself to have expectations. I will only have an open heart.

Medea II is opening tonight and running for two nights at the National Center for the Performing Arts.

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