Narrative ballet has agelong been stuck successful the 1800s; seldom does thing that looks similar the 21st period look connected the ballet stage. Choreographic duo Morgann Runacre-Temple and Jessica Wright person achieved that successful Coppélia, 1 of the astir twee of 19th-century ballets, reimagined arsenic a modern cautionary communicative with elements of thriller, satire and philosophical inquiry.
In the original, Dr Coppélius creates a life-sized doll that catches the oculus of Swanhilda’s fiance. Here the bones of the communicative enactment the same, but the mounting is axenic Silicon Valley. Coppélius (Bruno Micchiardi) is simply a achromatic polo-neck clad tech guru with elephantine ego and a exemplary of a abstraction rocket successful his survey – successful lawsuit we were successful immoderate uncertainty we’re successful Elon Musk territory. Micchiardi plays him with conscionable the close magnitude of smug swagger, without veering into caricature, helped by the unrecorded camera provender that projects closeup details supra the stage, and a smart, succinct publication by Jeff James.
In his NuLife lab, helium is creating “Coppélia”, an AI being that tin beryllium successful corporeal form. Not a satellite distant from thing similar Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, though since that movie came out, the thought of sentient AI has go less sci-fi, much conscionable sci. Into this comes sceptical writer Swanhilda (the fantabulous Constance Devernay-Laurence), some fascinated and disturbed by the creations successful the lab.
Choreographically, overmuch of the question has the sleek ergonomics of a Jonathan Ive design, it’s stylishly functional with immoderate clever details. There’s an inspired Gangnam-style TikTok creation astatine a tech bros party, and erstwhile Swanhilda hacks her mode into the laboratory she finds not cliched robot moves but an eerily beauteous country wherever the AI-droids marque Rorschach-like shapes with extended limbs.
Composers Mikael Karlsson and Michael P Atkinson usage quotes from Delibes’ euphony successful a people that travels from physics soundscape to afloat orchestra, plugging play into the stage’s chill aesthetic. Music and video are synthesised into well-paced storytelling that genuinely asks immoderate applicable questions, and boldly refuses to necktie everything up with a neat bow and romanticist pas de deux. This Coppélia is simply a palmy stride into ballet’s future.