The world’s first AI ballet has arrived, and it's setting the bar high

The first-ever AI ballet is here, collaboratively directed and composed by speech artist and musician Harry Yeff (AKA Reeps100), and performed by the Leipzig Ballet

Leipzig Ballet AI Ballet
(Image credit: Ida Zenna)

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, collaboratively directed and composed by Harry Yeff (known as Reeps100) and Gadi Sassoon, 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) collaboratively composed and directed by Harry Yeff and Gadi Sassoon with 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. 

Harry Yeff/Reeps100 Fusion AI Ballet

Harry Yeff/Reeps100

(Image credit: Harry Yeff/Reeps100)

‘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. 

Fusion set piece by Paul Zoller

Set piece for fusion, created by Paul Zoller

(Image credit: Reeps100)

Generative costume design for Fusion AI Ballet

Generative costume design by Paul Zoller

(Image credit: Reeps100)

Generative Choreography AI Ballet Fusion

Generative choreography for AI Ballet Fusion

(Image credit: Reeps100)

Fusion premiers on 28 May and runs from 29 May - 8 July 2023 at The Leipzig Opera.

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.