Tharp re-formed a company after completing work on two large ballets, The Beethoven Seventh and The Brahms-Haydn Variations. One of the first works created for this group was Surfer At The River Styx.
The dance references elements of Euripides’ play The Bacchae, wherein the god Dionysus challenges the hubris of King Pentheus, a mortal. The two lead men, backed by a chorus of four dancers, compete in escalating displays of virtuosity. Bright footlights cast the men’s enormous shadows on the back wall as they outdo one another.
When the king is bested by the god, order is restored and the two men are reunified with the chorus. In a long, sustained lift, a woman is elevated in a stream of light high above the stage, a final image of transcendence.
Additional performance on May 9, 2010
Additional performance on May 15, 2010
Additional performance on May 1, 2011
Additional performance on May 14, 2011