Acting as One

December 13, 2012

Two months ago I came across a video on Vimeo – a few shots from Primal Matter, the work of choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou.

This led to a Google search and the discovery that Primal Matter would be performed at EMPAC in Troy, NY. It was a free performance with limited seating, but fortunately I got their early and got my name on the list for a free ticket.

The performers – one clothed and one naked – interacted in ways that suggested they sometimes thought of each other as strange objects – something to be crawled through or manipulated. The program notes say, “Primal Matter offers a universal language of decoding and a shortcut to the truth – the fusion of two bodies is a fusion of attitudes and identities, and a struggle between matter and mind, shadow and light, and creator and creation.”

In the last section, the performers contrive to let first one and then both lower legs of one performer become the lower legs for the other performer. You can see this in the last seconds of the video. To me, this climatic section illustrated the care that must be taken when two or more people try to act as “one body,” – that is act in consort toward an agreed goal.

Quaker congregations try to reach what is called a “sense of the Meeting,” a state where everyone sees that one action is for the highest good of all. Papaioannou’s work – moving from acting as if the other body were a machine, to acting as if it were a body to be cared for, and finally coming together with great care and difficulty to act as one body – illustrates a kind of unity that is rare but very necessary if humans are to survive.

One Response to “Acting as One”

  1. […] In 2012, a video by Dimitris Papaioannou, led me to discover that he was performing in Troy, New York. My reaction to his work is recorded on a blog post, “Acting as One” […]

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