Born in Athens in 1964, Dimitris Papaioannou gained early recognition as a painter and a comic-book artist. He then turned to the performing arts as a director, choreographer, performer, and designer of sets, costumes and lighting. A fine arts graduate, he approaches the creative process through imagery and drawing.

The first artistic cycle of his stage work revolved around Edafos Dance Theatre, the group he worked with for 17 years until 2002. Medea (1993), presented at the 1998 Dance Biennale, marked the company’s transition to big venues, and is considered the touchstone of his oeuvre. Edafos left an indelible impression on the Greek arts scene.

His work on creating the opening ceremony for the Athens Olympics in 2004 brought Dimitris Papaioannou international renown. Since 1986, his personal work has been a hybrid exploration of experimental dance: a blend of physical theatre, motion art and performance, in which he interrogates creation, identity and the legacy of our Western cultural memory.

In 2012, stripping his work down to the bone, he created Primal Matter for the Athens Festival, marking his stage comeback after a 10-year hiatus. In this same search for simplicity, in 2014 he created Still Life, the first of his shows to tour Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. In 2015 he devised the show that opened the first-ever European Games in Baku. In 2017 he created The Great Tamer, which was staged at the Avignon Festival and received the Europe Theatre Prize in Rome. Dimitris Papaioannou became the first artist to create a full-length piece for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch: Since She, in May 2018. During lockdown in 2020, Dimitris created INK, a 50-minute duet danced by Šuka Horn and himself, commissioned and co-produced by Torinodanza and the Reggio Emilia Aperto Festival.