The Divine Comedy —

Choreographer/Artistic Director Tim Podesta has worked as a performer and choreographer throughout the world. We’re thrilled to welcome him to Queensland Ballet to create a new work for Dance Dialogues – Summer. We asked Tim to tell us a little about his piece:

My idea for the work is based on The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, the celebrated Italian poet of the Middle Ages.  The Divine Comedy is divided into three sections: Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise). The poem was written in the first person: Dante, the lead character, tells us of his journey through the three realms of the dead. 

Dante's ideal woman and love interest, Beatrice, initiates Dante's journey out of love for the poet, because she believes that he has strayed from the righteous path and thinks that this divine journey will save him from himself. Thus, she leaves her seat in Heaven to descend to Hell, where she asks Virgil, a Roman poet, to serve as Dante's guide and protector. 

On many occasions during his travels through Hell and Purgatory, Dante believes that he can go no further, but the promise of meeting Beatrice motivates him to continue. Beatrice amply rewards Dante, meeting him in Earthly Paradise and acting as his guide through Heaven. 

I see wonderful opportunities for male solos and duos between Dante and Virgil, with a beautiful pas de deux between Dante and Beatrice as she guides him to Heaven. 

I love that the work is driven by such a strong narrative, incorporating both great darkness and tender, delicate moments. The current working title for the piece is The Beginning of a Forever. My movement vocabulary is very gestural. I wanted something a little dark that could show the depth of artistry of the wonderful dancers at Queensland Ballet.

As a choreographer, you're always looking for inspiration - and the inspiration for this piece came when I was waiting for a delayed flight to London. It was a five-hour delay, so I went to the bookshop at the airport and came upon Dan Brown's new book, Inferno. In the book, there are many references to Dante and The Divine Comedy. I was intrigued, so I purchased Dante's poem and instantly knew that this was the premise for my work for QB! 

When I finished at the English National Ballet in London, I had other commitments in Munich, Paris and Slovakia. A twist of fate resulted in having to travel through Italy to Florence, where Dante lived until he was exiled, which inspired his poem The Divine Comedy. While in Italy I had wonderful opportunities to research more about Dante and his work.

Here are some lovely illustrations of The Divine Comedy by Gustave Doré, published in the 19th century. I will show them to the dancers to help explain my vision for the work.

 "Here begins the Comedy of Dante Alighieri, Florentine by birth, not by character."

Dante Alighieri


Tim Podesta, February 2014