Festival 2021

Dimitris Papaioannou Transverse Orientation

  • Sadler's Wells
  • Thu 21 - Sat 23 October 2021, 7.30pm
  • co-commissioned by Dance Umbrella and Sadler’s Wells
  • Admission: Tickets £15 – £45 (transaction fee applies)
  • Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes, no interval
  • Age guidance: Contains nudity
  • Access: Post Show Talk BSL interpreted by Debbie Lawrence

Book Tickets

Dimitris Papaioannou returns to Dance Umbrella for the third time following his sold-out debut in 2016 and 2018’s sold-out and Olivier-nominated production The Great Tamer. Summoning an entirely distinctive universe once more for his latest work, Transverse Orientation is co-commissioned by Dance Umbrella and Sadler’s Wells.

A true master of visual spectacle, the Greek artist explores existential themes, mining mythology and art history to conjure vivid and often humorous imagery. Taking inspiration from the natural behaviour of moths to seek light, Transverse Orientation follows the human compulsion to find meaning on the journey of life.

“Like all of Papaioannou’s pieces, it’s a meticulously crafted, intensely visual experience. ”

With a background in fine arts, Papaioannou’s creations blur theatre, experimental choreography and live performance to transform bodies and objects by illusion. Coming to international prominence following his direction of the 2004 Olympic ceremonies in Athens, his work has been seen by audiences across the world. Originally scheduled to premiere at Onassis Stegi in Athens, due to the pandemic Transverse Orientation was first performed on 2 June 2021 at the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon in France and will tour to more than 30 cities.

Post Show Talk with Dimitris Papaioannou, hosted by Emma Gladstone OBE

Watch the full recording of the post-show conversation with Dimitris Papaioannou at Sadler’s Wells on 21 October 2021. Transcript also available.

Awards +

NOMINATED | Best New Dance Production | Olivier Awards 2022

NOMINATED | Best Modern Choreography | National Dance Awards 2022

Reviews +

“Papaioannou is unique in what he does, the painterly precision of his set pieces, the sudden magical transformations”

“Transverse Orientation demonstrates yet again what a masterful theatrical magician and imagist Papaioannou is”

“The eight performers are indefatigable and deserving of the highest plaudits”

Gallery +

Photos Julian Mommert

Venue & Access Info +



Rosebery Avenue
London EC1R 4TN

Sadler’s Wells has been located in Islington, near Angel, since 1683. The site has two theatres; Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the Lilian Baylis Studio.

Getting there

By Bus
Numbers 19, 38 and 341 travel from the West End to the theatre’s own bus stop. Many buses travel from Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Euston and Kings Cross stations to the Angel.

By Tube
Angel (Northern Line City Branch) is a 250-metre walk from Sadler’s Wells. Trains run every few minutes northbound to Kings Cross and Euston, and southbound to Bank and London Bridge.

By Bike
There are plenty of bike racks outside and opposite the theatre. There are several Cycle Hire stations within 5 minutes walk.

By Car
There are no turns into St. John St from Pentonville, City and Goswell Roads. The easiest route is from Pentonville Road into the west side of Claremont Square and down Amwell Street.

Access information

Sadler’s Wells commits to making our spaces and artistic programme accessible. We want everyone to enjoy world-class dance.

Visit Sadler’s Wells website for detailed access information.

Covid safety

Biography +

Dimitris Papaioannou

Dimitris Papaioannou. Photo: Julian Mommert

Photo Julian Mommert

Born in Athens in 1964, Dimitris Papaioannou gained early recognition as a painter and comics artist, before his focus shifted to the performing arts, as director, choreographer, performer, and designer of sets, costumes, make up, and lighting.

He was a student of the iconic Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis before studying at the Athens School of Fine Arts.

He formed Edafos Dance Theatre, in 1986 as an initial vehicle for his original stage productions, hybrids of physical theatre, experimental dance, and performance art.
Originating in the underground scene, the company challenged perceptions and gained an expanding number of dedicated followers. MEDEA (1993) marked the company’s transition to big theatres and is considered its iconic work. The Edafos company spanned 17 years, to 2002, and set its indelible stamp on the arts scene in Greece.

Papaioannou became widely known in 2004, as the creator of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games.

Restarting in 2006, with his production ‘2’, he found himself in the odd position of creating avant-garde works in major theatres in Athens that enjoyed record-breaking long runs, with over 100.000 tickets sold.

In 2009, he began using this platform to create theatrical experiments on a large scale: NOWHERE (2009) for the inauguration of the renovated Greek National Theatre and INSIDE (2011) for the Pallas Theater.

In 2012, stripping down his work to bare essentials, he created PRIMAL MATTER for the Athens Festival, with him back on stage after a ten-year absence.

On the same quest for simplicity, he created STILL LIFE (2014), the first work that toured extensively in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia.

In 2015, he created the Opening Ceremony for the Baku 2015 First European Games.

Papaioannou’s 25 productions range from mass spectacles with thousands of performers, to intimate pieces, and have appeared in a wide variety of venues, from his famous underground squat theater in Athens, to the ancient theatre in Epidaurus, and from Olympic stadiums to Théâtre de la Ville – Paris, and Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.

In 2017, he created THE GREAT TAMER, his first international co-commissioned work with ten co-producers, including the Festival d’Avignon. THE GREAT TAMER toured for two and half years, through 4 continents, 23 countries and 38 cities. It was presented a total of 112 times, before over 90.000 spectators. The work was bestowed with the special award Europe Theatre Prize in Rome in 2017, and Papaioannou was nominated in 2019 for the Olivier award for “outstanding achievement in dance”.

In 2018, Dimitris has become the first artist to create a new, full-length work for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch. SINCE SHE premiered in May 2018 in Wuppertal (Germany) and was presented in Amsterdam, London, Athens, Paris, and Catanzaro.

In September 2020 he premiered INK, a duet performed by Šuka Horn and Dimitris Papaioannou at the Torinodanza Festival. His latest work TRANSVERSE ORIENTATION, originally scheduled to premiere at Onassis Stegi in Athens, due to the pandemic was first performed on 2 June 2021 at the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon in France and will tour to more than 30 cities.

Credits +

Transverse Orientation (2021)

Conceived – Visualized and Directed by Dimitris Papaioannou

With Damiano Ottavio Bigi, Šuka Horn, Jan Möllmer, Breanna O’Mara, Tina Papanikolaou, Łukasz Przytarski, Christos Strinopoulos, Michalis Theophanous

Music Antonio Vivaldi
Set Design Tina Tzoka & Loukas Bakas
Sound Composition & Design Coti K.
Costume Design Aggelos Mendis
Collaborative Lighting Designer Stephanos Droussiotis
Music Supervisor Stephanos Droussiotis
Sculptures & Special Constructions – Props Nectarios Dionysatos
Mechanical Inventions Dimitris Korres

Creative – Executive Producer & Assistant Director Tina Papanikolaou
Assistant Directors & Rehearsal Directors Pavlina Andriopoulou & Drossos Skotis
Assistant to the Set Designers Tzela Christopoulou
Assistant to the Sound Composer Martha Kapazoglou
Assistant to the Costume Designer Aella Tsilikopoulou
Special Constructions – Props Assistant Eva Tsambasi
Photography & Cinematography Julian Mommert

Technical Director Manolis Vitsaxakis
Assistant to the Technical Director Marios Karaolis
Stage Manager – Sound Engineer & Props Constructions David Blouin
Props Master Tzela Christopoulou
Lighting Programmer Stephanos Droussiotis
Costumes Construction Litsa Moumouri, Efi Karantasiou, Islam Kazi
Stage Technicians Kostas Kakoulidis, Evgenios Anastopoulos, Panos Koutsoumanis
Lighting Constructions Miltos Athanasiou
Silicone Baby made by Joanna Bobrzynska-Gomes
Props Team Natalia Fragkathoula, Marilena Kalaitzantonaki, Timothy Laskaratos, Anastasis Meletis, Antonis Vassilakis

Executive Production 2WORKS in collaboration with POLYPLANITY Productions
Executive Production Associate Vicky Strataki
Executive Production Assistant Kali Kavvatha
Props Production Manager Pavlina Andriopoulou
International Relations & Communications Manager Julian Mommert

A production of ONASSIS STEGI
To be first performed at ONASSIS STEGI (2021)

Co-Produced by Festival d’Avignon, Biennale de la danse de Lyon 2021, Dance Umbrella / Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Fondazione Campania dei Festival – Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, Grec Festival de Barcelona, Holland Festival – Amsterdam, Luminato (Toronto) / TO Live, New Vision Arts Festival (Hong Kong), Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen, Saitama Arts Theatre / ROHM Theatre Kyoto, Stanford Live / Stanford University, Teatro Municipal do Porto, Théâtre de la Ville – Paris / Théatre du Châtelet, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

With the support of Festival Aperto (Reggio Emilia), Festival de Otoño de la Comunidad de Madrid, HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts, National Arts Centre (Ottawa), New Baltic Dance Festival, ONE DANCE WEEK Festival, P.P. Culture Enterprises Ltd, TANEC PRAHA International Dance Festival, Teatro della Pergola – Firenze, Torinodanza Festival / Teatro Stabile di Torino – Teatro Nazionale

Funded by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports
Dimitris Papaioannou’s work is supported by MEGARON – THE ATHENS CONCERT HALL



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