Robot Ballet


In 1924 American composer George Antheil and artist/filmmaker Fernand Léger collaborated on 'Ballet Mécanique.' Inspired by the ever-expanding presence of machines in modern life, the two artists reconstituted the dance form with whirring, grinding mechanical parts overseen by human guides. Although the two parts (score and film) were never married in the artists’ lifetimes, both pieces became landmarks in the their respective fields. Léger's film has been well restored and is a notable chapter in modern art history, and 'Ballet Mécanique' remains Antheil's most famous orchestration. This December, Paul Lehrman and LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots) will present an all-robotic version of Antheil's score. Originally written for 16 player pianos, four bass drums, three xylophones, a tam-tam, seven electric bells, a siren, and three different-sized airplane propellers, the 'all robot version’ replaces any and all human participation with pre-programmed robotic knowledge. The piece will play twice a day from December 1-11th at the Wolfsonian Museum at Florida International University, offering rhythmic and evocative respite from the Miami Art Fair shopping season. --Caitlin Jones