Writer’s soliloquy of passion choreographed in words

The future existence of the acclaimed local dance troupe Omada Edafous seems uncertain following the recent appointment of its leader, Dimitris Papaioannou, as artistic director for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympics. Prior to this, another key figure, Angeliki Stellatou, the troupe’s co-founder and a pivotal member, had departed abruptly several months before. Since her move, Stellatou has also assumed new responsibilities as a stage director at the Neos Cosmos Theater which is run by Vangelis Theodoropoulos. Her first project there, a new play, «Angel in My Path,» premiered on Wednesday. Crucially, it comes as Stellatou’s first ever attempt at directing following her successful past as a choreographer. How did you reach the decision? It just happened. Vangelis (Theodoropoulos) suggested the idea to me, I liked it, and said, «I’ll do it.» I accepted it as though it were a present and wanted to unwrap it to see what was inside. It was not as if I said, «I now want to direct.» So the decision to direct is not a permanent one? No. Permanent decisions – never! They’re not part of my character. Whatever emerges. Besides, we have yet to see the result of this attempt. I may be told to go and sit at home. «Angel in My Path,» a soliloquy, was written by Maria Efthstasiadi, who used autobiographical writings by Georges Sand (the 19th-century French Romantic writer). It refers mostly to her notorious relationship with Chopin. Maria Katsandri interprets the text and is accompanied by a pianist, the exceptional Dionysis Malouchos, who plays Chopin, of course. Does the play include movement, elements of choreography, which is your home territory? I’m on solid ground with movement, I don’t know how to work with words. I could only function as an audience, and tell Maria [Katsandri] that something wasn’t coming across or that something struck me as off-key. What I’m capable of, I think, is of understanding how the body should behave during a particular moment in the text. We found and brought nuances into the text. One basic idea was to place the pianist in the present – he summons Sand through the music. Sand belongs to «then.» And she’s dressed accordingly. The costumes are by Despina Makarouni and the stage set by the sculptress Nina Pappa, both of whom are also making their debut in theater. They’re friends of mine whom I love and respect. I wanted us to share the gift that was given to me. What moved you to do the work? The opportunity to have a better understanding of two worlds: the music of Chopin and Sand’s personality. Their era. Also, the pursuit of the absolute love that is depicted in the work. This doesn’t seem old-fashioned to me at all – even though it rarely occurs these days. Each one of us carries the load of the past that makes us cautious when confronting the people that we meet. Everyone wants absolute love, but to live it, you’ve got to dare to lose yourself. Are you planning anything in choreography, your own troupe perhaps? No, I have no such thoughts. I got caught up with this idea right after I left Omada [Edafous]. I’ll see once this is finished. Do you plan to abandon choreography? I don’t have plans. I let things evolve in my life. This time round, it was this, tomorrow, something else may come up. I’ll see and decide. I’ll wait for my own desires and external factors to take shape. You must have had serious reasons for leaving Omada Edafous. Angeliki wanted to get out from under the shelter offered by Omada Edafous for so many years. I wanted to see what I could do. Was it a bitter separation? It wasn’t easy. I left behind something I’d worked very hard on. But I feel badly about it. It was necessary at that particular moment in time – whether for good or bad… Was it sudden or had you contemplated it for some time? I’d been thinking about it for a while – and was tormenting myself over it. And one day I just said, «I’ve got to go now.» It’s not easy not being a member of Omada Edafous; it shook my sense of reality. But it was necessary.