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.

Raffaella Silvestri, “A Ray of Literary Hope on Italian TV”

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“Some 10 percent of Italian households did not own a single book. According to the 2013 Survey of Adult Skills by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, nearly 70 percent of the country of Dante and di Lampedusa is unable to ‘understand and respond appropriately to dense or lengthy texts.'”

Raffaella Silvestri, “A Ray of Literary Hope on Italian TV,” The New York Times, April 21, 2014

Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic”

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“There is an operatic quality coursing through the work of the Second Empire sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75), the subject of a powerful exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, through May 26, that inspired a concert of French vocal music at the museum on Saturday evening.

“Look at Carpeaux’s best-known masterpiece, the wrenching ‘Ugolino and his Sons’ based on Dante: Here are both epic scope and intimate detail (those clenched feet!), the combination that 19th-century opera specialized in. It’s no surprise, given the adroitness of his balance between exuberance and restraint, that he was asked to design a relief for the exterior of Charles Garnier’s opera house in Paris. The result, a swirling mass of figures called ‘La Danse,’ fairly explodes off the facade.”    –Zachary Woolfe, “A Circle of Composers, Intimate and Epic,” The New York Times, April 29, 2014

Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book”


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“Everybody knows that The Divine Comedy is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written. [ . . . ]

“The practical applications of Dante’s wisdom cannot be separated from the pleasure of reading his verse, and this accounts for much of the life-changing power of the Comedy. For Dante, beauty provides signposts on the seeker’s road to truth. The wandering Florentine’s experiences with beauty, especially that of the angelic Beatrice, taught him that our loves lead us to heaven or to hell, depending on whether we are able to satisfy them within the divine order.

“This is why The Divine Comedy is an icon, not an idol: Its beauty belongs to heaven. But it may also be taken into the hearts and minds of those woebegone wayfarers who read it as a guidebook and hold it high as a lantern, sent across the centuries from one lost soul to another, illuminating the way out of the dark wood that, sooner or later, ensnares us all.”

Rod Dreher, “The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante’s Divine Comedy“, Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2014

Contributed by Allen Wong (Bowdoin ’14)

 

Richard Rhodes, Absolute Power(2014)

thermonuclear-monarchy-elaine-scarryIn Richard Rhodes’ Sunday Book Review of Thermonuclear Monarchy by Elaine Scarry, he references Dante when envisioning the world after the explosion of nuclear weaponry: “Today there are still about 17,300 nuclear weapons in the world, most of them American or Russian, with a combined destructive force equivalent to 1,500 pounds of TNT for each and every man, woman and child on earth. The detonation of even a fraction of this stockpile could produce a worldwide Chernobyl, followed by a new ice age of dark starvation. Not even Dante imagined a fate so cruel for humankind.”    –Richard Rhodes, “Absolute Power,” The New York Times, March 21, 2014

Kevin Lincoln, “The Death of the Bargain Bin” (2014)

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“. . .We, as in the public, are beholden to these people to some extent, because like Dante descending into hell, we need a Virgil to guide us through the terrors that are YouTube and worse (on the Internet, there’s always worse). There has been a severe hamstringing of our agency not only as consumers of art, but also as patrons. What we’ve made up for in efficiency, we’ve lost in potential, and that loss of potential — the feeling that boundaries exist on the artistic world — is immensely dissatisfying. We are becoming increasingly tethered to these algorithms and these influencers, and for a reason: What we’ve created, with the advent of almost unlimited access, is as close as the human race has ever come to the elimination of scarcity. There is still a cap on the amount of movies and TV and music out there waiting for us. But like the edges of space, it is something we’re never going to see.” [. . .]    –Kevin Lincoln, The New York Times, March 14, 2014

Our Young-Adult Dystopia

city-of-dis“I sometimes wonder what Dante or Milton or any of those guys would make of the modern appetite for the young-adult epic. It wasn’t always a lucrative thing, writing grand, sweeping, fantastical stories, you know. It was a job for nose-to-the-grindstone, writing-for-the-ages types, and worldly rewards were low. Milton died in penury, blind and obscure; Dante met his maker in literal exile. Would they look with envy upon their celebrated and moneyed modern analogues– your J. K. Rowlings, your Suzanne Collinses?”    –Michelle Dean, “Our Young-Adult Dystopia,” New York Times Magazine, January 31, 2014

Dante in a Genealogy of Literature

mendelsohn“This is the essentially genealogical model of influence taught in college literature courses: Homer begat Virgil, Virgil begat Dante, and so on.”    –Daniel Mendelsohn, “Which Authors of Books Have Worked on You as ‘Negative Influences’?” New York Times, January 21, 2014

Lee Breuer, La Divina Caricatura (2013)

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“She has floppy ears, eyes of exquisite sadness and an operatic tendency toward ecstasy, anguish and other big emotions. Leave her alone in a thunderstorm, and she may fall into despair. She is a dog named Rose, and her Dear John letter to the man she loved is the battered heart of Lee Breuer’s dark, joyous and utterly splendid musical fantasia La Divina Caricatura, Part 1, The Shaggy Dog, at La MaMa, in a co-presentation with St. Ann’s Warehouse. An East Village tale told in a subway, it’s a doomed cross-species romance inspired by The Divine Comedy, but Mr. Breuer uses Dante more as catalyst than template. The strongest classical link is to Japanese theater’s Bunraku.”     –Laura Collins-Hughes, The New York Times, December 19, 2013

Dante vs. Dante de Blasio

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Eric Spitznagel, The New York Times, December 22, 2013