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


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

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)


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

Sean Curran Company, Fireweather (2013)


“How do they dance in hell? According to Sean Curran’s new Fireweather, the first half of his company’s program at the Joyce Theater, the damned gravitate to the floor. Stretch and spring up as they might, something keeps pulling them down.
Both Fireweather and its score, Charles Wuorinen’s ‘Mission of Virgil,’ are inspired by Dante’s Inferno. In a program note Mr. Wuorinen stresses that his atonal composition isn’t narrative and that his attitude, like Dante’s, is mocking. Mr. Curran’s attitude is more reverent, and his dance much more like an illustration.
Though there is no clear Dante or Virgil, there is a journey deeper into the circles of the underworld, with projected titles to announce each section. Warriors march and kick. Bodies mass into six-armed monsters. A naked Satan struts and stumbles. The adulterers Paolo and Francesca circle each other and kiss.
Much of the choreography has a monumental quality that recalls the mythic works of Martha Graham. Tense tableaus are composed like the paintings of old masters. Yet despite strong dancing and choreographic craft, the work falls short of its august models. The titles that guide us set up expectations nearly impossible to fulfill.”    –Brian Seibert, The New York Times, February 1, 2013

Merce Cunningham Dance Company


“…The music critic Charles Rosen, observing that difficulty in the arts has characterized most great music and literature for centuries (Dante and Beethoven as well as Schoenberg and Stravinsky), wrote, in 1998, ‘A work that 10 people love passionately is more important than one that 10,000 do not mind hearing.’ Cunningham’s career exemplified that. And among the first 10 people to follow his work passionately were the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.”  [. . .]    –Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, December 22, 2011

Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, “Popopera” (2009)


“After presenting their highly acclaimed HELL, based on Dante’s Inferno, Emio Greco | PC has completed [purgatorio] POPOPERA which will have its NYC premiere at The Joyce Theater. The company takes its inspiration from Dante’s literary depiction of a geographical place and feeling of transition that provides the opening for inner transformation. Greco and Scholten have said, ‘whereas in HELL we let our dancers wander round the same circles each time, in [purgatorio] POPOPERA they break out of them. The will, the need to live and especially the hope for the future are the essential motives. In [purgatorio] POPOPERA we try to show the audience other images than it expects of those overly familiar themes that cling to the concept of purgatory (catharsis, purification through suffering, …) in order to approach these themes from new angles.’ The company invites audiences to witness the transformation and synergies between dancers’ bodies and the lustrous black electric guitars they carry in this performance that melds dance with rock concert. The piece features original music composed by Bang-on-a-Can founder Michael Gordon, performed live by the dancers and soprano Michaela Riener.” [. . .]    —Off Broadway, September 16, 2009