CULTURE

A dance study of female senses

A young woman stands alone on the stage – naked. She goes through extreme physical and psychological transformations. The dancer exposes her body in all kinds of ways, while the audience listens to her voice, to her breath. Welcome to the world of the senses… Choreographer Apostolia Papadamaki’s new work, «Human Female Study,» has caused many, often contradictory, reactions. The work was initially performed in an edited 15-minute version by the Quasi Stellar dance/theater group during the first Contemporary Dance Platform which took place at the Athens Concert Hall recently. Beginning this Friday, audiences will have the chance to see the complete 50-minute production at the Synchrono Theatro Athinas (Athens Contemporary Theater). Due to the show’s nudity, minors will not be admitted to the theater unless accompanied by parents. «What is the definition of beauty today? Are we really as we look? How does our self-image develop and how much does it influence our existence? These are a few of the thoughts that went through my mind,» says Papadamaki. «I couldn’t cover all these issues in just one work.» And so «Human Female Study» is the first show in the «The Beauty Series,» which is meant to explore the conflict between image and identity. The second, «Icon Skin,» will be presented in the spring (April 29 to May 14 at the Athens Contemporary Theater), while the third and fourth segments («Male Study» and «Hermaphrodite») will go on stage in the fall. «I believe that the audience’s discomfort stems from the choreography’s line, the dancer’s interpretation. The show stirred the public’s own personal experiences, such as not accepting one’s body, especially for females. How many men can bear to be present at childbirth? How many people turn off the lights when they make love? The work is not pornographic. Genitals are dealt with as a part of the body that has certain functions. On an international level, their exposure in public is taboo. The lead character in the performance is the woman, from where man is born. And senses reign,» says Papadamaki. «In ‘Male Study,’ it is the man who will be the protagonist – the world of intellect and progress. ‘Hermaphrodite,’ on the other hand, has nothing to do with homosexuality, but with transgression, the holy element, all that the human brain cannot conceive. In ‘Icon Skin,’ which is a group performance, the message is anarchy, the need to track down what’s essential, to save what’s inside.» «I’m not influenced by the bad reviews,» says Papadamaki. «What matters is sparking some kind of reaction on the part of the audience. I don’t want the viewer to leave the theater exactly the same as when he walked in, without going through a thinking process or some emotional tension.» The performance brings together dance (by young dancer Markella Manoliadi), a video installation by Michalis Kloukinas (marking his third collaboration with the choreographer), a live vocal improvisation by actress Tzina Thliveri and lighting by Lefteris Pavlopoulos. In May, «Human Female Study» will travel abroad for three performances in Belgium. Athens Contemporary Theater, 39 Evmolpidon, Gazi, tel 210.345.5020.