Stanford Live to Host Performances of Dimitris Papaioannou’s Breathtakingly Beautiful “Transverse Orientation: at Memorial Auditorium on December 9 and 10, 2022

Transverse Orientation
Dimitris Papaioannou
Friday, Dec 9, 7:30 PM
Saturday, Dec 10, 7:30 PM
Memorial Auditorium

Transverse Orientation, the latest creation by groundbreaking Greek director, choreographer, and visual artist Dimitris Papaioannou, makes a stop at Stanford Live on December 9 and 10 following its North American premiere at Brooklyn Academy of Music on November 7 and a successful international run that included performances at Sadler’s Wells and La Biennale de Lyon. Originally set to host the North American premiere in May 2022, Stanford Live made the difficult decision to reschedule Transverse Orientation due global COVID-19-related visa and transportation challenges.

The New York Times described Transverse Orientation as a “beautiful sight to behold” and a performance balancing “a tension between grandeur and simplicity…[that] make[s] epic visual imprints.” Commissioned by an international consortium that includes Stanford Live, Papaioannou’s new production (which received an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Dance Production) is an epic evening-length work that combines sculptural bodies, life-like puppets and mythical creatures with contemporary movement that oscillates between the absurd, surrealism, and dreams. Taking inspiration from the natural behavior of moths to seek light and major themes from Greek mythology, Transverse Orientation follows the human compulsion to find meaning on its journey.

“I was first introduced to Dimitris in Montreal when I attended a performance of The Great Tamer at the recommendation of many of my international colleagues” says Chris Lorway, Stanford Live’s Executive Director. “I was immediately transported into his visual world and was transfixed for the entirety of the performance––I knew at that moment that I wanted to support the creation of his next piece. I’m so excited to share this stellar work with Bay Area audiences.”

In 2018, Papaioannou was the first choreographer to create a new evening length work for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch since Bausch’s death in 2009. He also conceived and directed the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. With a background rooted in painting and visual art, Papaioannou is a true master of visual spectacle and creations that blur theater, experimental choreography, and live performance. Transverse Orientation continues his talent for visual theater, packing powerful and suggestive images that capture the painterly quality of Papaioannou’s work with choreography that transforms the human body and objects through illusion. Beauty and absurdity sit side by side, challenging traditional notions of beauty with vivid scenes that offer as much poignance as levity and humor.

For the first time, Papaioannou put together an international cast, which includes eight dancers selected from more than five hundred who auditioned. The final group of dancers––described by The New York Times as “expert puppeteers of themselves”––worked closely with Papaioannou throughout the playful, intuitive creative process.

“My works evolve during rehearsal. They are not composed beforehand,” Papaioannou says. “I prepare material only in order to kick-start the process––and most of the time, I throw it out. I’ve resolved to not know what the outcome will be ahead of time, to trust in the process. In the end, if I’m lucky, the work reveals itself, and I try to understand it, to perfect it’s meaning, to help it become clearly what it is.” 

Warning: This production contains nudity
Run Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

Tickets are on sale now at

Two performances of Transverse Orientation by internationally recognized Greek choreographer Dimitris Papaioannou will take place at Memorial Auditorium on December 9 and 10. Photo by Julian Mommert

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