A man holds up a big cube over its head…
it is Atlas sustaining the world…
within the cube a man appears…
hence, we see a man sustaining
a cube containing another man…
Dante’s Inferno is a play of Chinese boxes.
The first scene is not yet the first move:
an actor holds up a big cube over its head…
it is Atlas sustaining the world…
within the cube a man appears…
hence, we see a man sustaining a cube containing another man…
Dante’s Inferno is a play of Chinese boxes.
The second scene represents the first real move:
this is the entrance into Hell through the infernal gate:
obviously, this cannot be a simple gate.
Hell is a metaphysical place, an empty space,
so we imagined it: built from within,
made up of the damned’s bodies.
The dancers are the brick of the empty otherwordly universe
Dante trespasses the Gate of Hell
and finds himself in a new world
where the philosophers’ souls swim in the Limbo,
tracing mysterious shapes while they float in the dark.
At the centre of the last picture we have the image of Vitruvian Man,
an anticipation of medieval humanism.
The choreographies develop along arabesqued geometries,
baroque architectures, strong signs with obscure meanings.
The laws of physics are abolished,
and the souls of the Conte Ugolino and of his sons, mad with pain,
are walking on the walls and jumping on the ceilings.
The wind brings us the sweet and harrowing souls of Paolo and Francesca,
whose bodies come alive in the air,
the bonds of gravity untied in the sweetest and melancholiest “of pas de deux”.
In this world, where up and down, above and below are abolished,
the damned suspended upside down are judged by Minos
and hurled to the ground by Caron.
Devils play in the air telling their angelical past.
The road to Hell is an obstacle race:
Dante must overcome broken bridges built with the damned’s limbs,
harsh towers formed by human bodies and he will find giant Nimrod’s
unexpected help for the last big effort.
But beforehand he will see Pier delle Vigne
magically transformed into a tree, and the damned crying for their sins,
while mutating into one another.
At the bottom of Hell the frozen lake of Cocito
collects the bodies of the damned, of which arms,
legs or just heads are glimpsed, forming a single metamorphic puzzle.
At the end of the voyage
Dante and Virgil will climb a living stair until they see the light:
a big pulsing star formed by the dancers’ bodies
suspended in the air illuminates the last scene of Inferno.
A man holds up a cube
in which another man is imprisoned.
The first scene offers a reading of the whole show:
Dante’s infernal space
is geometrically built
with symmetries and canons;
ideas are expressed
through symbolical images
The first scene represents the infernal gate:
a living architecture constituted by 6 dancers,
a human circle turning into a square,
a four- or five-pointed star time after time;
it constantly changes:bodies create geometric patterns
like triangles, squares, hexagons.
The choreography develops along arabesqued geometries,
baroque architectures accompanied by the voice-over: …
Scene II – p.1/2
… III, 1-9: “Through me the way to the sufferingcity/
Through me the way to eternal pain/
Through me the way that runs amond the lost/
Justice urged on my high artifier/
my maker was divine authority/
the highest wisdom, and the primal love/
Before me, nothing but eternal things were made/
and I endure eternally/
Abandon all hope, who enter here.”
Scene II – p.2/2
The second scene shows the main characters:
Dante and Virgil who undertake the trip.
It is a route made up of broken bridges (malebolge),
leaning towers, winding roads…
it is an obstacle race, almost a videogame.
It is a cartoon world, inspired by the famous drawings by Botticelli.
The dancers are living bricks moving one on the other,
first building a bridge and then a totem: …
Scene III – p.1/2
… it is the living Babel tower,
it is Fialte, it is the giant Antheus who lifts Dante
and takes him from one side of the stage to the other.
XXXI, 43-45: “the terrible giants, whom Jupiter
still threatens from the heavens, when he thunders,
turreted with half their bodies the bank that circles the well.”
In Totem the choreographic technique is bodily sculpture:
human constructions similar to African wooden sculptures.
The dancers are living machines where bodies are used as architectural elements
to construct the imaginary topography of Hell.
Scene III – p.2/2
Dante meets two castles:
the first one is isolated from the hellish world
and includes green fields
where heroes, philosophers, great women of ancient Rome live.
The second castle is the city of Dite.
The walls are red and burningand thousands of devils fly on it.
On its walls appear the monsters of classical mythology appear:
Medusa, Gorgon and The Furies.
The heroes is Aeneas,
with his capacity he has been able to trasform the world.
The hero has always at a crossroads
where the roads are obvius:
one the one hand good, the other evil.
We imagined an aquatic world, slow, suspended,
where the Philosophers and Pagan Wise live.
The dynamics of the characters’ moves is that of swimming.
The choreography begins with 4 dancers representing the 4 great poets
named by Dante at the beginning of the Canto:
iv, 79-95 “After the voice had paused, and was quiet,
I saw four great shadows come towards us, …
Scene V – p.1/2
… with faces that were neither sad nor happy.
The good Master began to speak: ‘Take note of him, with a sword in hand,
who comes in front of the other three, as if he were their lord:
that is Homer, the sovereign poet: next Horace the satirist:
Ovid is the third, and last is Lucan. […]
So I saw gathered together the noble school, of the lord of highest song,
who soars, like an eagle, above the rest.”
The refinement of these souls is represented by sinuous and undulating movements.
With the composition of symbolical and geometrical shapes
we want to represent the great mathematicians and philosophers.
Scene V – p.2/2
In the fourth scene the damned appear, just thrown to Hell:
they are effeminate, suspended in the void,
in wait of being abandoned to their fate like a tightrope walker:
III, 112-117: “As the autumn leaves fall, one after another,
till the branches see all their spoilage on the ground,
so, one by one, the evil seed of Adam,
threw themselves down from the bank when signalled,
like the falcon at its call.”
The scene is short and shows the mysterious image
of an air-suspended bare chested woman,
her head down, the rest of the body prolonged into a huge golden skirt.
She leaps into the void to collect from the ground a fan,
which she opens describing enigmatic choreographies.
She finally folds it and flies away, vanishing beyond the ceiling.
The voice-over clarifies the scene: IX, 61-63: “O you, who have clear minds,
take note of the meaning that conceals itself under the veil of clouded verse!”
Protagonists are the limbs and dissected heads of the damned,
imprisoned in different situations,
which refer to the existential condition of damnation.
Heads appear in the dark, hands cover empty faces, vanish,
jut out in desperate gestures only with their bust,
just to disappear completely shortly after.
Arms get locked, part, are substituted by legs which disappear
in the air creating symmetries, sinuous waves, decorations. …
Scene VIII – p.1/2
“We went further on,
where the rugged frost encases another people,
not bent down but reversed completely.
The very weeping there prevents them weeping:
and the grief that makes an impediment to their sight,
turns inward to increase their agony:
since the first tears form a knot, and like a crystal visor,
fill the cavities below their eyebrows.”
Scene VIII – p.2/2
The eleventh scene represents the heroic spirit and the strength of man’s will:
A flame in the sky appears formed by tulle and inundated by white light.
The flame unravels. Ulysses breaks free from the tulle.
XXVI, “Consider your origin: you were not made to live like brutes,
but to follow virtue and knowledge.”
He begins the telling of his extraordinary adventure.
We see him climbing up a sail,
combating nature’s forces and finally precipitated
to the bottom of the sea, where the sirens
-who had seduced him short before-
collect him mercifully.
The choreography tells the fall of Lucifer and of rebellious angels:
a topos of fantastic imagery and of medieval theological knowledge.
Two angels with large white wings fly in the air,
and while they come down to the ground
they are turned and merged into a single being: Lucifer
III, 40-42 “They are mixed in with the despised choir of angels,
those not rebellious, not faithful to God, but for themselves.
Heaven drove them out, to maintain its beauty,
and deep Hell does not accept them, lest the evil have glory over them.”
In the seventh Canto Dante meets the Stige swamp.
The wrathfull come out of the water between them,
haughty and arrogant. the slothful are helpless on the bottom.
There are two male protagonist:
one is Filippo Argenti, the other is not identified.
They fill the scene with their naked and dirty bodies that you can see entirely.
Others damned only offer limbs and head
to enrich the choreography imagined by Dante.
Stige is a magical place, where violence erupts suddenly breaking the silance,
like cutting a screan behind wich the human folly hides:
we imagined it as a canvas of a painting that breaks.
A man turns into a tree.
Pier delle Vigne is the dramatic protagonist
who picks up again the Virgilian theme
of the metamorphosis of Polydor.
The breaking of the branches
and the spilled blood described by Dante
are symbolically represented
through the mimic of arms and red flowers.
Following a musical movement repeated 7 times,
we offer a symbolical representation of the 7 deadly sins
(lust, sloth, gluttony, greed, envy, pride, wrath)
symbolically represented in a contemporary key.
Two pairs of characters act on one another through mirrors,
creating metamorphic transformations.
Bodies interact, in a play repeated 7 times,
magically passing through each other.
The tenth scene opens with the solo of Conte Ugolino
hammering away at his harshest enemy’s skull.
“That sinner raised his mouth from the savage feast,
wiping it on the hair, of the head he had stripped behind.”
The choreography proceeds with a pas de deux
in which the tragedy told by Dante is represented: …
Scene VIV – p.1/2
… the father imprisoned with his sons,
who will devour them, mad with hunger.
A man (father) and a woman (son) walk on the walls,
jump on the ceiling,
run after and assault one another, along a violent course,
building a labyrinth of abstract actions.
A gestual description of folly
while the daughter desperately screams:
XXXIII, 60: “My father, why do you not help me?”
Scene VIV – p.2/2
The scene is very sweet:
the story of the courteous troubadour’s love
is told in a historical key.
A love story in medieval perspective:
where sensuality is confounded with metaphysics.
The scene opens with two young reading
the book of Lancelot and Guinevere
and tells how -overwhelmed by the love adventures of the novel’s protagonists-
they find themselves falling in love with each other.
V, 100-102: “Love, that is quickly caught in the gentle heart,
filled him with my fair form, now lost to me,
and the nature of that love still afflicts me. …
Scene XV– p.1/2
that allows no loved one to be excused from loving,
seized me so fiercely with desire for him,
it still will not leave me, as you can see.”
Paolo and Francesca,
born by the infernal whirlwind are rejoined in the sky,
love each other in the air,
vault embraced in a highly sensual choreography,
finally part, born by the infernal whirlwind
“As doves, claimed by desire, fly steadily, with raised wings,
through the air, to their sweet nest, carried by the will”
Scene XV – p.2/2
Dante and Virgil exit from Hell through a living staircase:
the damned themselves form the stairs and the apparent normality
of a walk breaking the laws of physics reminds us that we are living
in a world in which these rules are abolished in a single moment,
magically, ironically, as if in a cartoon.
XXXIV, 133-139: “The guide and I entered by that hidden path,
to return to the clear world: and, not caring to rest, we climbed up,
he first, and I second, until, through a round opening,
I saw the beautiful things that the sky holds:
and we issued out, from there, to see, again, the stars.”
The last scene is made up of 6 dancers:
symbolical image appearing at the end of Dante’s text.
The living star breaks down,
transforms, creates one shape after another,
following medieval architectures, historical suggestions, imaginative constructions.
Lights are turned off.
The show is not over yet: the dancers come back to greet the public
and fly away one after the other,
CHOREOGRAPHIES AND SCENES
POLISTRUMENTISTA: OSCAR BONELLI
SOUND DESIGNER: GIULIANO LOMBARDO
SOUND MIXER: MARIO CROCETTA
SOUND EDITOR: RICCARDO MAGNI
MUSICAL CONSULTANTS: ANDREA BARBERA
ART DIRECTOR: EMILIANO PELLISARI
GIANNI BONAGURA E LAURA AMADEI
TOOLS OF SCENE