Travesty Doll Play Ballez (after Coppélia) is an evening-length theatrical Ballez performance. This new work draws on the original Coppélia, which was performed as a travesty ballet in 1870 in Paris: meaning that an entirely “female” cast performed both the male and female roles, as was the ubiquitous practice of the time. This new revisionist creation brings that history to light with an entirely trans and non-binary cast; making clear that gender variance and transgression have long been a part of ballet and that Ballez dancers are the rightful inheritors of that his/her/theirstory.
Travesty Doll Play Ballez (after Coppélia) focuses on the relationship between the Dolls and their Doll-Maker, meditating on cycles of abuse between teachers and students, on control and freedom, on fake and real, and on perpetually being forced to automate the performance of binary gender-roles in ballet in order to belong. The cast is composed entirely of trans and/or non-binary dancers; with an extraordinary group of 5 highly ballet trained young dancers playing the Dolls, alongside Katy Pyle playing the Doll-Maker.
The music, a collaborative score by Lavinia Eloise Bruce with Scott Killian, appropriates, electrifies, and rebuilds the 1870 Delibes Coppélia score.
Visual design and costuming are informed by trans artist Greer Lankton’s transcendent and terrifying dolls, genderqueer artist and Club Kid Leigh Bowery’s extravagant non-binary looks, and Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore's gender-bending self-styled portraits, with costume-design and construction by Karen Boyer. The world of the Doll-Maker and their Dolls is illuminated by Lighting Designer Mandy Ringger, evoking a workshop, a garish Weimar era theater, a queer club, an apocalyptic landscape and a romantic, glowing haven.
This project has been developed with the support of:
a development commission from the Joyce Theater, a documentary film commission from WNET’s All Arts, a technical residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, a creative residency at Tremper, rehearsal space grant from the Mellon Foundation, grants from Harkness Foundation for Dance and New York State Council on the Arts, and fiscal sponsorship from Brooklyn Arts Exchange.
photos by Yael Malka