Provincial Dances Theatre worked with Alexander Pepelyaev, a well-known choreographer and winner of many Russian and international theatre awards, to create a new piece. Alexander Pepelyaev teaches and performs at the Dance and Theatre Centers in Russia, the Baltics, Scandinavia, the United States, Western Europe and Africa.

#Coppelia_bot, his new piece with Provincial Dances Theatre targets a teenage audience. It stems from the comic ballet Coppelia by the French composer Leo Delibes which is based on the novel "The Sandman" by E. Hoffmann.

The original plot is the story of the mechanical creation by Dr. Coppélius — a doll named Coppelia. A living doll looks like a real person so much that all the young men of the city fall in love with her. In Pepelyaev’s modern version Coppelia is #coppelia_bot, a computer virus. It copies a real girl, multiplies itself and affects other characters of the play. #Coppelia_bot behaves on stage as she would on the Web, like artificial intelligence, she evolves and is self-learning. Very soon, the narration turns into a digital thriller, with elements of a detective story.
Concept and choreography: Alexander Pepelyaev (Russia - Estonia)
Music: Leo Delibes, Alexander Zhemchuzhnikov
Costume design: Alexander Pepelyaev
Lighting design: Maxim Sergachev
Running time: 60 minutes
Premiere: November 2017

The piece was created with the support from the Russian Theatre Workers' Union
Alexander Pepelyaev is the choreographer and director. He is founder and artistic director of Kinetik Modern Dance Theatre. His production style is driven by the desire to understand the peculiarities of the modern Russian dance and visual theatre.

Pepelyaev’s works were presented at the world’s largest dance and theatre festivals. They won prestigious international awards in Russia, Estonia, France and the USA.

From 1999 to 2010, Alexander Pepelyaev was the artistic director of the Association of Dance Theatres TSEKH (Moscow) and TSEKH festival. He won the Russian main national award, the Golden Mask for Cafe Idiot, which was also nominated for Best Performance in Contemporary Dance (2016). Pepelyaev is an honorary Doctor of the Academy of Music and Theatre of Estonia. He was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of the Republic of Estonia.

We are sort of using the archetype, both social and cultural. Humanity has always tried to reproduce itself in some kind of scientific form. When I began to think about what a robot is like now, #coppelia_bot popped out. We all will be slaves of web artificial neural networks in 10 years.

Alexander Pepelyaev for Russia-Culture TV

[…] Pepelyaev wouldn’t be his true self if he didn’t make himself and us question the limits, simultaneously and spontaneously creating an ironic collage. The presence of such questions determines the third layer of the piece. What is a human and where are the limits of something human (and from there the reverse question — does artificial intelligence have a soul? Who is our Creator and is there life after life?

Natalia Kuryumova, Golden Mask expert