Crazy Happiness

Avgi newspaper 4 Feb 2001English

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Contextual note
Text translated by Margaret Baines

“Crazy Happiness” is the title of the new choreography by Konstantinos Rigos for his group, Oktana Dancetheatre. During seventy minutes we observe seven persons who, contained within an indeterminate space, go through consecutive phases of hostility. In their “games” they relive relationships of authority which they reproduce with unheard of cruelty. Those relationships have obvious associations with their childhood judged by the scenes taking place some of which could be entitled “eat your food”, “how beautiful you were in that dress when you were a child”, “how difficult it was to dress you”. Also, “Look what you have done now”, “let me dress you, feed you, change you”…Daily scenes of a routine that can be tormenting for a child under the influence of a demanding adult, especially a tyrannical mother. The references to childhood are also suggested by the detailed analysis/presentation of the anatomical differences of the sexes, which is in English by Amalia Benett. Later in the performance, she will also describe the sexual act in scientific objectivity and emotional distance.

Every scene which has a special meaning and does not only serve as an introduction to another moment of violence is starting from one person but through identification, causes all the others to participate, in what passes for common experience. The common aspects of the past, however, are not the medium through which the members of the company can feel solidarity for one another; on the contrary is the common base on which is gradually built aggression, passivity and the perpetuation of violence. What holds the dancers together in this ensemble piece, is their acts of obliterating, humiliating, killing and punishing anyone who is different that them and they do so with great innocence.

Konstantinos Rigos, after a period of experimentation and trials in different artistic expressions, returns with a work that combines his “pop period” with more dramatic elements which were first presented in gestation in works such as “Les Noces” and more developed in “5 Seasons”. The most cosmopolitan of the Greek choreographers, and perhaps the only one who insists-with ingenious effectiveness- on the “bodily”/dramatic version of Dancetheatre, brings to the stage work which does not justify its characters but contributes to their mythologizing in the way that movies like “Sleepers” and “Trainspotting” have done. K. Rigos does not consider the violence that his characters show as a result of their class credentials or membership to a group which condones such behaviour; he sees it as a product of the ever present armamentarium of the problem childhoods of “normal people” in which he directly seeks (and indirectly blames) the cause for the “birth of small monsters”. He is not interested in their possibility of treatment but gives them the way out they need….Remembrance and phantasy become confused as they turn into imagery and finally lose their grip on reality. However, they seduce and provoke the spectator.

All members of Oktana, both new and long standing, were technically accomplished. Roula Koutroubeli (persuasive, demanding of herself, extraordinary in the “feeding” scene); Elena Topalidou (dedicated to her role, exceptional as a teasing “fairy”); Amalia Benett (appeared to be “mutating” all the time, has great expressive talent which she used effectively); Spiros Bertsatos (serious and very changed); Takis Argiropoulos (a significant soloist in Greek dance); Konstantinos Rigos (touching and lyrical performer, outstanding in his solo before the end, violent on stage for the first time); and (actor) Alexandros Kamarineas (fitted in well with the rhythm and style of a dance performance).