Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Discipline and Redemption: the Dance of Penitence in Dante's Purgatorio

Kathryn Dickason


In the context of Christian penitence, medieval preachers, confessors, and philosophers aligned dancing with lust, pride, and sacrilege. These negative attitudes toward dance colored medieval depictions of Purgatory and damnation. However, Dante's Purgatorio offers a very different representation of purgatorial bodies. This article shows how dance in the Purgatorio is not associated with punishment, but rather moral discipline, self-transformation, and spiritual redemption. In conclusion, I address some of the deeper implications that Dantesque dancing may have on critical theory and performance today.

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