The first-ever AI ballet is here, directed and composed by speech artist and musician Harry Yeff (AKA Reeps100), and performed by the Leipzig Ballet.
AI is stridently making its way through the creative fields, for better or worse. In recent months, music was infiltrated by a ‘fake Drake’, photography saw an AI-generated image win a major competition, and art, well, it’s a jungle out there.
Now it’s ballet’s turn, and a subversive new performance will become the world’s first AI ballet, using generative AI to inspire all aspects of the composition; from the concept to the score and the set design. Fusion, directed and composed by speech artist and musician Harry Yeff (known as Reeps100) will be performed by Leipzig Ballet from 29 May – 8 July 2023 at the Leipzig Opera House. It promises to redefine contemporary ballet, and serve as a seamless meeting point between body and machine, but what exactly will it involve?
Fusion: the first ballet to use AI to power music, set design and choreography
At the heart of Fusion is the music score (a blend of contemporary classical, electronica, and beatbox techniques) composed and directed by Harry Yeff in collaboration with associate composers Gadi Sassoon and Teddy Riley. Through AI-infused choreography by Mario Schroder and stage design and costumes by Paul Zoller, the ballet visually captures the journey towards harmony, and draws on Plato’s concept of the divided self.
So where does the AI come in? Yeff’s own voice serves as the catalyst for the performance, with generative synthetic voices underpinning the ethereal musical landscape. Yeff has trained for over a thousand hours with voice and A.I. technology to master almost post-human and machine-like control of his voice.
‘My voice is now augmented as a result of hundreds of hours of training with A.I. – I am able to reach speeds and depths I didn’t believe were possible. I am a living breathing augmentation, soon there will be many more of me’, says Yeff, who grew up on an East London council estate and has since become an acclaimed beatboxer and creative force in the realms of arts and technology. ‘As a neuro-divergent director and coming from a working-class background, this feels like a moment to be trusted to fuse so many worlds into one work. It’s a sign that there is more openness for new kinds of expertise to be celebrated, regardless of where you come from.’
The Leipzig Ballet, whose history dates back to the late 1600s, has a track record for the radical. The Neues Opernhaus (New Opera House), the venue for the performance, has witnessed countless iconic ballets and premieres (from Wagner’s Ring tetralogy to Brecht/Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) making the company well placed to host this groundbreaking new voice for ballet.