Inferno at San Francisco’s Gray Area Festival

“I’m in the middle of the dance floor. The strobe lights above me are popping in time with the thundering kick drums and violent synth-bass rolling out of the speakers at 110 beats per minute. I’m shuffling to the rhythms, but I’m only able to control the lower half of my body. All of my movements from the waist up are being dictated by an exoskeleton strapped onto my trunk like a jacket.

“My arms jerk up and down and twist from side to side with the beat, but my own muscles aren’t doing the work; my flesh is being pushed around in space by the 45 pounds of metal, cable, and hydraulic cylinders running across my shoulders and down my arms. A robot is making me dance.” [. . .]

“The dance show, titled Inferno, is meant to be an experiential representation of hell, and I suppose it is, just maybe more fun. Inferno has been touring the world for a couple of years, and it made its US premiere in San Francisco this past weekend at the Gray Area Festival.” [. . .]    –Michael Calore, Wired, July 30, 2019.

Read more about Inferno and the Gray Area Festival on Wired.

 

“Synetic Theatre takes us all to hell”

“Pushing a performer’s body to its limits has always been a Synetic hallmark, along with an eagerness to incorporate elements of whatever other art forms can help to embroider an evening’s subject. Classic mime, movie horror, military formation all come into play in Synetic’s interpretation of the “Inferno” portion of Dante Alighieri’s allegorical epic poem the Divine Comedy. (The production’s title has been changed from the original ‘Dante’ and then later, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy.’)

“What remains is a narrative that skims the surface of the poem, as Dante himself, in the guise of the Tsikurishvilis’ red-cloaked gymnast son, Vato, ventures through the circles of hell with Virgil (Alex Mills). In Synetic’s version, Dante, suffering from writer’s block, is in pursuit of an afterlife reunion with his love and muse, Beatrice (an angelic Tori Bertocci).

“The story provides the Tsikurishvilis and their longtime collaborators, set and costume designer Anastasia Simes and soundscape composer Konstantine Lortkipanidze, with a canvas for some ghoulishly sinister stuff — another popular Synetic motif. Simes’s hell is decked out like some really durable parlor of sadomasochism, with demons in studs and leather and Lucifer (Philip Fletcher) looking like a sexy roadie for Marilyn Manson.” [. . .]    –Peter Marks, The Washington Post, October 5, 2016.

You can read more about Synetic Theatre and get tickets for their current season here.

“Dante’s Nightmares and Dreams” Wichita State Wind Ensemble and Contemporary Dante Theatre (2019)

Dante’s Nightmares and Dreams ​is a stunning collaboration between the Wichita State Wind Ensemble and the Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre. Featuring live music, film, and dance, Dante’s classic tale, “The Inferno​,” is brought to life in a veritable feast for the senses.”   –Becca Yesner, The Sunflower, April 24, 2019

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


Francesca-Da-Rimini-Ballet-Robot-Capture
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.

Vivian Lee Reach, A Choreographer’s Voyage Within Dante’s Inferno (2017)

Vivian-Lee-Reach-Choreographers-Voyage-Dantes-InfernoVivian Lee Reach (MFA ’17, University of California, Irvine) presented her thesis concert, A Choreographer’s Voyage Within Dante’s Inferno, at UC Irvine’s Winifred Smith Hall, on April 11, 2017.

Of the inspiration for the performance, Reach explains, “In May 2015, I was introduced to Inferno by one of my past English professors as a ‘fun summer read.’ I was hooked after the first tercet. From that moment on, I decided to dedicate my time to Dante’s Inferno. I am deeply humbled by literary mentors, Giuseppe Mazzotta and David Bruce, who brought me face to face with the elaborate and structured panorama of Dante’s first canticle through their books and words of wisdom.”

Vivian-Lee-Reach-Program-Choreographers-Voyage-Dantes-InfernoWatch the performance on YouTube here.

For the full concert program, click here.

“Daily Life Everlasting”

Daily Life EverlastingDaily Life Everlasting” is a dance-theater piece written by Charles L. Mee and directed by Dan Safer, performed at La MaMa in New York City by Witness Relocation.

“The third collaboration between Witness Relocation and acclaimed writer Charles Mee, in which people meet, fall in love, make out with each other, find being alive awkward but funny, and dance quite a lot. With original songs by Obie-winning composer Heather Christian and costume design by Brooklyn-based maverick fashion designer Brad Callahan.”    —La MaMa

“When the actors do speak Mr. Mee’s lines, they’re usually playing with or around or against them — and probably nuzzling each other at the same time. Plato is name-dropped. And Aristotle. And Dante. But love and lust rather than dusty old books set the play’s libidinous heart aflutter.”    —The New York Times

420PEOPLE, “Inferno – Variations on Dante” (2014)

Inferno - Variations on DanteCzech dance company 420PEOPLE has created a piece entitled “Inferno – Variations on Dante“, which premiered on September 30th, 2014. The performance is described on the 420PEOPLE website as

“A tragicomic parable on a human fight with sorrow, boredom and laziness that sneak into our lives with middle age. Inferno is not a place, it is a state of soul.”

 

Contributed by Michele Torresani

SAWTOOTH Dancers’ Ombra

Dance company SAWTOOTH performs a Dante-inspired piece, Ombra, at Dixon Place in Chelsea, NY, on July 24, 2014.

SAWTOOTH Dancers“Inspired by Dante’s Paradiso and Plato’s Cave, Ombra is a multimedia dance performance embedded within a dance party. Drawing in part from a hypnotic, Butoh-inspired physicality, the dance performance emerges as episodic dreamscapes within a clubbing experience and a live cabaret. Sound artist Michael Feld orchestrates an eclectic sound score that moves between live percussion, electronic sound art, and 90s dance hits.

“Ombra asserts that liberation is created, not revealed. With humor, Ombra (Italian for ‘shadow’) is a piece that hopes to offer a re-evaluation of the dark, and it seeks to relocate the site of true human ascendance within the shadows and the shadows we make.”    —Dixon Place

To read about SAWTOOTH, click here.

To read about Dixon Place, click here.

Soweto Kinch’s The Legend of Mike Smith

soweto-kinch-picture-legend-of-mike-smith

The Legend of Mike Smith is a dynamic multi-platform project combining Hip Hop, Dance, Jazz and visual art to explore the permutations of the Seven Deadly sins in modern culture. Written by Soweto Kinch, and directed by Jonzi D it follows the travails of Mike Smith, a young artist as he struggles to navigate his way through a normal day whilst being possessed by other worldly desires and vices. [. . .] The work compares a fantastical world of sin in Catholic texts with a licentious often encouraging attitude towards these things in modern society. Rather than the remote Dantean world of the Inferno, vice often becomes virtue when placed in our contemporary market place, the music industry or political system.”    —Soweto Kinch, The Legend of Mike Smith, 2013