ballet

Elaborations of the Machine: The Automata Ballets

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a number of ballets entered the classical repertory that featured marionettes and activated dolls. Arlequinada (1900), Die Puppenfee (1903), Petrouchka (1911), and the immediate parent of these productions, Coppélia (1870), all focus on the imitation of living people through the movements of automatized figures. Coppélia, the first of these pieces, opened during a prolonged period of malaise—stretching back to the 1850s—in European ballet, in which dancing veered more toward repetitive athletic feats than expressive movement.