Akademi's new take on Dante's Paradiso

Posted by | July 28, 2016 | News | No Comments
Akademi, paradiso, dante, british library, anthony gormley, hilary westlake, melanie pappenheim

Paradiso: Man’s Enduring Search for Perfection

A new contemporary outdoor dance production

Akademi‘s new contemporary dance production Paradiso – Man’s Enduring Search for Perfection previewed amidst the stunning setting of Antony Gormley’s stunning sculpture ‘The Planets’ at the British Library Piazza Friday 22 Jul 2016. Inspired by the final stages of Dante’s Divine comedy and the astrological influences of the nine planets in Hindu mythology, an international creative team brought alive a classic piece of literature through dance and live music.

London based leading South Asian dance production house, Akademi, teamed up with renowned theatre director Hilary Westlake, choreographer Jose Agudo (of London Olympics 2012 fame), music composer Bernhard Schimpelsberger and costume designer Martina Trottmann for this new work. Actors/singers Melanie Pappenheim (Eyes Wide Shut, Doctor Who) and Hendrick January were joined by a diverse cast of six dancers (South Asian and western contemporary disciplines).

With a world-class creative team and cast of multi-disciplinary practitioners, Paradiso aims to be an evocative, engaging cross-arts outdoor piece. It draws on diverse cultural traditions and showcases both South Asian and Western contemporary dance and movement.

This 40-minute outdoor piece will be available for touring from summer of 2017 onward as part of UK-India Year of Culture celebrations.

Mira Kaushik, Director, Akademi said, This production builds on Akademi’s continued exploration of Dante and the third part of his divine comedy, Paradiso (Mayoori Boonham Paradiso for Encounter Festival 2011 and Manuela Benini Ascension Tour 2014). We will be seeking opportunities to perform the show in a range of sites in the UK and overseas. Suitable spaces include heritage gardens, pergolas, observatories, planetariums, field festivals, literature festivals, places of scientific interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Hilary Westlake, Director ‘Paradiso – Man’s Enduring Search for perfection said, Dante’s epic poem has complexities that are impossible to encapsulate, but dance and music can offer meanings that transcend the text. The show has been created in the comfortable warmth of the indoor studio.  The challenge now will be to transfer our material to the urban cement and the rural grass that is the world of outdoor arts. A challenge we are all looking forward to.

This project is supported by Arts Council England, The British Library, Watermans Centre and The Place.


Cast: Melanie Pappenheim as Beatrice and Hendrick January as Dante with Archita Kumar, Carmine De Amicis, Ellen Yilma, Gerrard Martin, Kamala Devam and Vanessa Guevara


Producer: Akademi                                                            Director: Hilary Westlake

Choreographer: Jose Agudo                                            Stage Manager: Sam Bennellick-Jones

Original Score: Bernhard Schimpelsberger                  Voice: Melanie Pappenheim

Costumes: Martina Trottmann                                       Akademi Artist Development and Productions: Nina Head
Contact details:

General enquiries: Mira Kaushik, Director at Akademi, mira@akademi.co.uk / 0207 691 3210

Press enquiries: Antareepa Thakur, Sales & Communication Manager, antareepa@akademi.co.uk / 0207 691 3210

Touring enquiries: Nina Head, Artist Development and Productions, nina@akademi.co.uk / 0207 691 3210