Jumping geometrics, spaced-out spinners, plastic fantastic figurines… welcome to the avant-garde world of The Triadic Ballet, the ageless dancing dreamchild of Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer. Premièred in Stuttgart in 1922 – to an audience who’s first thought must have been ‘wowzas!’ – this cutting-edge production, now almost 100 years old, still manages to look as fresh as a futurist’s fujuju.
Performed by geometrically-choreographed human automatons, Schlemmer’s vision of ‘man as machine’ manifested as a fantastical dance in 3 parts: playful, ceremonial and alien. And because 3 really is the magic number, each section was developed for a trio of dancers, 2 male and 1 female, whose movements were as unconventional as their outlandish form-obscuring costumes. Stuffed fabric, coiled metal, cardboard and wood were re-imagined into eye-popping mathematical forms subtracting and adding to the human shape, transforming the dancers into expressive abstract sculpture.
Radiating his true Bauhaus colours, Schlemmer’s radical response to the technological progress of the time succeeded in connecting the visual arts to a new modern style. As he once commented “What are experiments if not the first step into the future?” If only he knew what legacy he bequeathed to the world with this iconic future-facing dance experiment. He’d probably do a little robot dance to celebrate. ∎