Black and white striped trousers made of felt and velvet, an oversized collar with orange fabric beads and yellow-filled plastic balls and a voluminous helmet that is not from this world: The “Diver”, one of the original 18 costumes of the “Triadic Ballet”, has fascinated audiences for 100 years . While the figurine was moved by Oskar Schlemmer under the alias Walter Schoppe and his co-creators Elsa Hötzel and Albert Burger at the premiere in the Württembergisches Landestheater in Stuttgart on September 30, 1922, today it stands together with six other of the nine original costumes that have survived the State Gallery.
A part of the figurines was destroyed during the Second World War. The triads that are still preserved today owe their existence to a happy coincidence. In 1938, Schlemmer sent the figurines to New York for a performance of the ballet, which did not take place. The Museum of Modern Art then took the costumes into custody. They only returned to Europe in 1960 and were shown in various exhibitions.
The “Triadic Ballet” is divided into three acts, each of which is assigned a mood and a corresponding color. In front of the pink, festively worn and the black, mystical-fantastic mood, the “diver” appears on a lemon-yellow, cheerful, burlesque stage right at the beginning.
The name of the piece is derived from the Greek word Trias and means something like three. As a principle of order, it can be found in the number of acts and dancers, as well as the movements, forms and colors used. In a diary entry dated July 5, 1926, Schlemmer writes: “Why triadic? Because three is an eminently important, dominant number, where the monomaniac ego and dualistic opposition are transcended and the collective begins.”
With their partly rigid costumes constructed from different materials such as felt, velvet, wood, wire and plastic, the dancers explore the space in restricted movements and gestures dictated by the costumes. As an early pioneer of performance art and a constant source of inspiration, the “Triadic Ballet” is still absolutely up-to-date today.
Nathalie Lachmann works as a curator for the 19th and 20th centuries at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
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