Inferno by the American Contemporary Ballet (Los Angeles)

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In October 2017, the American Contemporary Ballet of Los Angeles, under the artistic direction of Lincoln Jones, performed Inferno, based on composer Charles Wuorinen’s ballet “The Mission of Virgil” (featured on Dante Today here).

“You can really draw a parallel between Dante’s time and our time because of the incredible divisiveness. The issues were different on the surface but underneath, probably a lot the same. In Dante’s time, cities would fight wars with each other. Dante wanted to get his point of view heard and send the people he thought should be in hell to hell. I think maybe there’s a lot of similar feeling with the diatribes people are writing today against those they feel have it wrong. So there’s a lot of similarities, political corruption, factions.” — Interview with American Contemporary Ballet artistic director Lincoln Jones in the LA Times (October 10, 2017)

“Francesca da Rimini”: Ballet Meets Robotics


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Francesca da Rimini is an experiment in using a robotically controlled camera to capture ballet. Starring dancers Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada, Francesca is based on a story from Dante’s Inferno and set to Tchaikovsky’s Francesca Da Rimini. The entire performance was filmed with motion control camera movements designed to synchronize with the dancer’s every step. The camera moves as if operated by a third performer, fluidly orbiting around the two dancers from the intimate perspective of another artist on stage. Using a combination of motion capture, 3D animation, and industrial robotics, Francesca demonstrates how the synthesis of art and technology can bring a new perspective to a classic art form.” — Director of Photography Joe Picard

Director: Tarik Abdel-Gawad
Dancers: Maria Kochetkova & Joan Boada
Choreographer: Yuri Possokhov

To learn more about the project, see the Making-Of film here: Ballet Meets Robotics: The Making of Francesca Da Rimini.

Dante’s Inferno: The Ballet (2014)

dantes-inferno-the-ballet“This new ballet traces Dante Alighieri’s journey through the nine levels of Hell in a chilling and beautiful tour-de-force of music, dance, striking masks, costumes, and choreography. With original music, masks, and sets created by Glenna Burmer, and music conducted by Grammy-award winner David Sabee and recorded at Studio X, this ballet is filled with exciting music, demonic dancing and wild choreography by the master Ronald Tice and Jennifer Porter.”    —Dante’s Inferno: The Ballet

Performances held February 21, 22, 23, 2014 at The Theatre at Meydenbauer Center (Bellevue, Washington).

Contributed By Gabrielle E. Orsi

Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, San Francisco Ballet (2012-2013)

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During their 2012 and 2013 seasons, San Francisco Ballet choreographed a ballet to Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, a symphonic poem setting to music the tragic story of the adulterous lover the pilgrim meets in Inferno V. Possokhov’s choreography also incorporates elements from Rodin’s sculptural groups inspired by Dante’s Comedy.

From the program notes: “The story of Francesca da Rimini, immortalized in Dante Alighieri’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, has a long and varied pedigree in the art world. The snippet of history has
made its way from literature to opera to symphonic fantasia to ballet—and now to San Francisco Ballet, in the creative hands of Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov. For someone like Possokhov, with a tendency to lean toward the dramatic, who better than Dante for the story, or Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the composer of so many beloved ballets, for the music? Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, a 25-minute symphonic poem, attracted Possokhov years ago. He describes it as the most romantic music in history, with an ending ‘like an apocalypse.'”    —SF Ballet

Contributed by Elizabeth Coggeshall