SHOWstudio Art Director Younji Ku asks choreographer Christos Papadopoulos about the visual nuances in his work
Younji Ku: When a movement repeats in the choreography, it creates or forces a meaning – people read different things into this, but did you intend to create a meaning?
Christos Papadopoulos: ‘Forces a meaning’ is too strong a phrase to use. I am more attracted to the idea that movement within repetition is revealing a way to inhabit the space, to gradually build a way through the piece, which is contemplative, suggesting more than a singular meaning. It is singular only through the prism of the individual who performs it, but it doesn’t contain singularity in its meaning; rather, I would say it is open to multiple meanings.
YK: Do you have an intention in mind when you begin the process of choreographing?
CP: I try to respect the process so that intention reveals itself. I have references of course, but I am also open to ways of interpreting, of inviting other people in the process. Intention is processual; it doesn’t imply a mere orientation to an end, but embraces all steps to a sharing, a community of ideas. That’s why I am creating while being in a team of collaborators.
YK: What were your references and inspirations?
CP: One major reference is what I would call ‘creativity’ in nature. But of course nature has no intention to impress by the occurrence of its phenomena. Another, is the rhythmic cycle of the repetitive structures in nature; things synchronising not just because they operate within a system but because their synchronsation allows a system to exist beyond operation. Otherwise birds will just fly straight, fish will swim straight; why follow patterns which are far more complex? But if everything is going ‘straight’ how do we look for communities and singularities?
YK: How long did it take you to conceptualise and complete Ion?
CP: There’s the practical side of things – the rehearsal period and preparation of the show- and then a psychological aspect, which is really hard to put in numbers. I mean when does an idea comes into one’s mind? For how long is it there, nurturing and growing before it hits the surface?
YK: Why do you choose to be so minimal in a profession which normally capitalises on the extremities of a dancer’s body and the physical form?
CP: It depends on what you see in minimal; minimal can be exhausting in terms of physicality. Minimal is not minimum energy, neither less dexterity. If we talk about form, minimal is about reinventing yourself within a form that maybe defies exuberance, resists the ‘hunger’ of the eye to be constantly pleased and satisfied. It is, to a certain level, a sort of nakedness in terms of performing.
"...in the core of my work I always look for the human dimension."—
YK: How much does the physical appearance of your dancers matter to you?
CP: My work requires certain physical skills, but appearance is not a prerequisite.
YK: To what extent does your choreography represent human behaviours?
CP: Do you mean if my movement vocabulary has a realistic approach? Because otherwise it would be like answering what qualifies as ‘representative of human’ within the artistic practice.
YK: Do you envision the motion before you hear the music or does the music influence the movements you want to create?
CP: Movement research comes before music, or sometimes with music.
YK: How do you maintain total conviction in your work? What drives you to ensure your ideas are put into action?
CP: By creating a community that supports the initial idea and guarantees its effective execution but also its expansion towards directions which I might not have imagined.
YK: How do you expect your work to evolve?
CP: I don’t plan to stick to a certain label that characterises my work. I don’t want to be constrained by kinetic styles and practices; in the core of my work I always look for the human dimension. My priority -though it may not be apparent at first glance- is focusing on the individual, the way he/she is in a community of bodies, or exposed by himself-herself. I want my work to reverberate the inner human condition, whether it is demonstrated by abstract movement or a simple gesture. A movement from and towards the human.
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