Carnegie Mellon University

Puppet Ballet


CMU's ETC Will Debut Two Re-Imagined Italian Futurism Masterpieces at the Andy Warhol Museum Aug. 26

Balli PlasticiThe Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University and the Istituto Italiano de Cultura in Washington, D.C. will premier two masterpieces of Italian Futurism, "Feu D'Artifice" by Giacomo Balla and "Balli Plastici" by Fortunato Depero at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26 at the Andy Warhol Museum's Film and Video Theater. A reception will follow the event. 

An ETC student team called Depero Futuristi has re-imagined both Italian pieces for the digital era. Depero Futuristi is directed by Franco Sciannameo, Director of BXA Interdisciplinary Programs at Carnegie Mellon, and the pieces were produced by Don Marinelli, Executive Producer of the ETC.

In 1917, the futurist artist Giacomo Balla staged "Feu d'artifice" — with music by Igor Stravinsky — at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome (now Teatro dell'Opera). It was a "ballet without dancers" as geometrical solids covered with cloth virtually danced to the shadows generated by switching lights on and off. 

Fortunato Depero created "Balli Plastici" in 1918 using geometric marionettes to capture the futurist ideal of machinery striving to break free of human control. The puppets were intended to replace human actors and dancers while establishing a new way to present art. "Balli Plastici" has been featured on Performa 09, TimeOut New York, MeFeedia, Parson's Illustration department blog and the Seoul COMO tower.

The Depero Futuristi team used a puppeteering software toolkit called ToyBox Futuristi that digitizes the ballet's original marionettes while developing a means for others to create their own futurist-inspired ballets. The group designed ToyBox Futuristi using arrangements of original and re-imagined "Balli Plastici" puppets and set pieces in an attempt to modernize Depero's pieces while keeping the artist's original vision alive.

The original music accompanying "Balli Plastici" was selected, orchestrated and conducted by Italian composer Alfredo Casella. For this re-imagined version of the ballet, the Carnegie Mellon School of Music is producing a recording based on newly discovered original scores preserved in the Casella Archives at the Fondazione Cini in Venice, Italy. The composition is scheduled to debut in April.      

The Aug. 26 presentation precedes the Italian premiere scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17 at MART, the Modern Art Museum of Trento and Rovereto, Italy. To attend the event, please RSVP to Shirley Saldamarco:

Eric Sloss