While love is breaking into the lives of two young people, an artificial being will challenge what they believed they knew about it… Revisiting this classic of the Romantic repertoire, Jean-Christophe Maillot gives us, with an original musical score, a reflection on the search for the ideal partner in a technologically advanced society. Is it still the flesh and blood being with which we are familiar or a different being, making us question our allegiance to the human race?
The idea of creating a ballet around Coppélia arose in 2016, but my thoughts were drawn to the ‘Girl with Enamel Eyes' long before then… In fact, these thoughts were rather ambivalent since, although I was truly fascinated by the story of a young man falling in love with a mechanical doll, I was somewhat put off by the romanticism of the original ballet.
Then, I had the idea of revising the score to make it possible for me to revisit this classic work in the ballet repertoire by updating the narrative: a story of two fiancés whose love would be challenged by the appearance of artificial intelligence. Since I have always demonstrated profound respect for music and composers, it was not without apprehension that I prepared to commit this sacrilege. But the narrative angle for my ballet helped me do it… Artificial intelligence has so effectively intruded in our daily lives that many things have lost sanctity. They have become, if not expendable, at least replaceable without jeopardising the world's survival. Thus, Coppélia's was ‘genetically' modified.
Who knows how long it will take before augmented dancers enter studios to perform choreographies generated by algorithms capable of reproducing inspiration? It is my conviction that this time is still a long way off. Even if it were to happen, the art of choreography will always require a soul, of flesh and sweat to personify emotions convincingly.Jean-Christophe Maillot