Gozitan dance troupe reaches for the divine with Dante adaptation

Naupaca Dance Factory will be staging an interpretation of Dante's Divine Comedy next October. 

The often visually stunning and conceptually ambitious Gozitan dance troupe Naupaca Dance Factory will be returning to both the Gozitan and Maltese stages this autumn, taking a stab at one of the most enduring pieces of Western literature, the troupe announced at a press conference at the Italian Cultural Institute earlier today. 

'Divina', based on Dante Alighieri's 'La Divina Commedia' (The Divine Comedy), will be staged at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta on the 18 October, and at Aurora Opera House in Victoria, Gozo on 24 October.

Directed and choreographed by Joeline Tabone, the performance will feature international artists collaborating with the troupe this season, including Russian dancer Sergey Kheylik as Dante, and Francesco Mariottini from Italy as Virgil. The troupe's production manager Deborah Agius will also dance the role of Beatrice.

Music for the show - which will be divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso - will be provided by Drew Mayor, Mario Sammut, Mel Xkejfa, Denise Buttigieg and Mark Gauci, with some of the music being performed live.

Tabone, who headed Naupaca since its inception in 2004, said that The Divine Comedy was a challenge that the company has been wanting to embrace for quite some time.

"We have made it a point to adapt the work as faithfully as possible, while still being mindful of the realities involved in adapting the work into a different format. Neither did we want to limit its thematic sphere to medieval philosophy, since we believe that Dante's work remains relevant to this day," Tabone said, adding that various themes, such as "social claustrophobia" and an "enduring search for perfection" will be at the forefront of Naupaca's production.


Owing to production costs and the desire to maintain high aesthetic standards, the production company will be hoping to cover costs through a crowd-funding campaign to be launched in conjunction with the production.

"A story is never enough. Humanity, and the tremendousness of its history, is superior to it. Dante Alighieri, the poet, was well aware of this because, as a philosopher poet, he knew that a narrative is only as great as the universe it presents to its audience. We believe that the genius of Dante lies in the way he tells, in the way he presents darkness and light in a straightforward manner, without obscurity. And we also believe that the role of the dance itself is bound in this simplicity, this clear and immediate way of speaking of the human and the beyond," the troupe said in a statement about Divina.  

The production is set to be the troupe's most ambitious yet. Founded in 2004, Naupaca have previously adapted Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, with 'Alice's Adventures Underground' (2012) and given their own spin on Snow White with 2012's The Death of Snow White - apparently hitting on some kind of zeitgeist, given that two Hollywood productions based on the fairy tale came out that same year. 

Divina is written by Maria Theuma, with set and costume design by Luke Azzopardi.

For more information log on to www.naupacadancefactory.com