Let the puppets dance!

Photo: Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22203952

Yes, that too exists: the “International Puppetry Day”. It is celebrated annually on March 21. The Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) is the international association of puppeteers and those interested in puppet theater, founded in Prague in 1929. UNIMA is the world’s oldest and most widespread theatrical association. There are 101 national centers. Affiliated with UNESCO, UNIMA pursues the goal of using the art of puppetry and figure theater in the spirit of human rights such as peace, freedom and mutual understanding – both purely interpersonal and in the larger togetherness of peoples.

Dolls, borrowed from the Latin word “pupa” (girl), have been around for a very long time. The oldest surviving ones date back to the Neolithic period and were made of bones and stones. However, many of them were probably not yet used by children for playing, but for religious purposes.

The history of dolls as we know it begins in the 15th century. Then commercial doll production began and in the 19th century figurative replicas of people as toys for children experienced their first great heyday. At that time, the dolls resembled little mini-adults with finely cut porcelain faces and expensive clothes. They were intended to serve as a model for children – especially girls, of course – of what the perfect wife would later look like and be like. They were almost always played with only under the instructive supervision of adults.

Many composers have dealt musically with puppets. From Tchaikovsky to Respighi, from Holst to Delibes, many works revolve around puppets, marionettes and other similar figures. Let the puppets dance, here is a list of works on this theme. (Source: Wikipedia; UNIMA)

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