Dying on Stage

    05/05  | 20:30
    06/05  | 18:00
    07/05  | 20:30

€16 / €13 (-25/65+)
2h 30min
FR (5/05, 7/05) EN (6/05)

Meet the artist after the performance on 6/05

Started as a private appointment held every year by the artist at his birthday, Dying on Stage is a lecture made up of a collection of anecdotes, YouTube videos and dances. Over the years Christodoulos Panayiotou has composed an impressive archive –– about the possibility of fiction to neutralize the idea of finitude: from Dalida's accurate reproduction of poses in her most tragic songs, to Michael Jackson's desire to perform a last time or Pasolini's metaphorical idea of a society dying on stage. Dying on Stage is the intimate gesture with which Christodoulos Panayiotou discloses his archive, making each time a different selection of its contents; a journey that cancels the linearity of time, to become an act of love to the spectacle and its ability to overcome the reality of death. In combining the precision of a lecture, and the divagation of a night spent surfing on the web, Dying on Stage drags us in a territory that questions the hierarchical order of what constitutes our common culture.

Concept Christodoulos Panayiotou  

Performed by Christodoulos Panayiotou and Jean Capeille     

Presentation Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater

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Li Galli, 24 June 2014

Dear Valeria,


The sun is setting behind the huge rocks. I am at Li Galli, an archipelago of small islands off the Amalfi coast, which is also known as Sirenuse, the islands of the Sirens. Sirenuse is also the island of Léonide Massine, the great dancer and choreographer of Ballets Russes. What is more, it is the Island of Rudolph Nureyev, the greater dancer of our times. You see, mythology is but a palimpsest in constant flux. New myths will always erase the old ones, either by violent acts of annihilation or by the halting haunting of their essence. I remember watching, when I was still a student, a documentary, shot on the island, about Nureyev’s life. My “ballet friend,” Eva, lent it to me this one summer and never got it back. She was a great admirer of Nureyev and had all sorts of VHS recordings in a drawer that I used to envy. I can still picture it: the videotape was labeled “Nureyev” in thick red ink. I became obsessed with it. I would watch it every day after lunch, and right after watching The Blue Lagoon. The two became weirdly connected in my mind. They were both very sensual, and they were also the first moving images of a male nude I’d ever seen. At the final credits of the documentary, Nureyev is seen sitting naked on the rocks of his island, contemplating the sea in a melancholy mood that can be described as the exact opposite mood from that of Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields as they, also unclad, walk around their island. I am positive that those rocks are the ones found in the southern part of Li Galli. Michael and I had a swim there yesterday evening. I’m actually pretty sure that I’ve found the very rock on which Nureyev sat at the end of the documentary and, as you can imagine, I did contemplate the sea from there, for a little while, in melancholy. 

Back in the first years of gymnasium I rewound and rewatched the ending credits of the documentary so many times that the tape eventually wore out and it was impossible to view anymore. This was my private excuse for never giving it back to Eva. I guess I told her I’d lost it, or perhaps she forgot about it. The same thing happened to my Blue Lagoon tape around the moment when a naked Atkins slides down a natural slope.


It took me many years to realize that the final credits of Eva’s documentary were truly very sad. As a teenager I could sense the loneliness and longing, but I had to watch his Bayadère at the Paris Opera last year and then come here in order to put my dates in order. Nureyev bought the islands, his final and more indulgent kingdom in a series of extravagant properties, in 1988; that is, four years after he tested positive for HIV. Though he initially denied anything was wrong with his health, the Nureyev I saw sitting on those rocks certainly knew that he was about to lose everything. The extraordinary prowess of this body first. That was probably Nureyev’s last summer on Li Galli. 

During that period he made one of his most beautiful contributions to ballet (the most beautiful one … I often tend to think): the first staging of La Bayadère in Europe using Petipa’s notes and Minkus’s original music. A long due closure, as he was the one to introduce excerpts of the ballet (including the famous “Kingdom of the Shades”) to the Parisian public during the 1961 tour. It was actually after this very performance that he defected from the Soviet Union and became the most sought after dancer in the West. Months following the dissolution of the Soviet Union – heavily ill – Nureyev was working hard to stage, at the Paris Opera, one of the many well-kept secrets in the antagonisms of the Cold War. La Bayadère premiered on October 8, 1992, at the Palais Garnier. 

The heartbreaking variation of the death of Nikiya, perfectly executed in his version by Isabelle Guérin, transcends, I believe, all those endings and gives us access to his thoughts as he was sitting on those rocks.


It’s getting rather late my dear friend and the winds are announcing a tempest. I shall go back to my room, take a look in the mirror and let go of my thoughts. Mythology is after all an old vanishing text, which allows, with the passing of time, ways of seeing through the faint remains of past texts. In that manner the scriptio inferior will always disrupt the scriptio superior, and thus, the two will be merging together into that obtuse space between the old and the new, the before and the after, the inferior and the superior. Sirenuse will, therefore, always be the island of the greatest of heroes, Ulysses, and the greatest of dancers, Rudolf Nureyev; the island of Massine and the Sirens; the island of Nikiya and the luring songs; the island of the mirror and the tempest. The island of the mirror, above all.

With love and admiration,

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Christodoulos Panayiotou’s (1978, Limassol, Cyprus) wide-ranging research focuses on the identification and uncovering of hidden narratives in the visual records of history and time. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held (amongst others) at the 56th Venice Biennial, The Cyprus Pavilion; Casa Luis Barragán, Mexico City; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Kunsthalle Zürich; Casino Luxembourg; CCA Kitakyushu; Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Louis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig; Centre d’Art Contemporain de Brétigny; and at Point Center of Contemporary Art, Nicosia. His work was also shown in a number of group exhibitions including: the 14th Lyon Biennial; the 13th Sharjah Biennial; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; 8th Berlin Biennale; 7th Liverpool Biennial; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museion, Bolzano; Migros Museum, Zürich; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Ashkal Alwan Center for Contemporary Arts, Beirut; Artist Space, New York; MoCA Miami.

Jean Capeille (1989, Paris) studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in the Contemporary section. Since then he has danced at the Ballet de Lorraine and collaborated with different artists such Christodoulos Panayiotou (Pas seul and Dying on Stage), Dora Garcia (The Sinthome Score and Écrits), Jesse Ash (Avoidance Avoidance) and Arseniey Zhilyev (Mir). In parallel, he is studying Art History (M2) at Université Paris 1 – Sorbonne.

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