In the 1950s, a family of ballet dancers, the Koblers, was contracted to the National Theater: a father, two girls and a son. The father was the ballet master, who rarely produced his own art, his two daughters were first-rate solo dancers, and his son was a solo dancer.
The two girls were young and beautiful, surprisingly similar in face, stature, sylphidi appearances on stage; and the boy is an endymion figure, with a face of the most classical beauty, a true ideal of masculine beauty. I don’t really like male ballet players, I don’t think other theater-goers of any gender: there’s something baby-like in their jumps, in their overdeveloped leg muscles, their larval-like, motionless faces are scarier than mesmerizing. But the Kobler boy was an exception. Its whole appearance, all its flattering, was full of unsolicited charm, its movements were classic sculptural patterns, as if carried by the air, such were its bold escapes; sometimes lying on one side seemed to fly in the air; such could have been the figure of Ariel.
And yet the audience was not even enthusiastic about the Kobler family.
It could be noted about the girls that they could never see their knees while dancing, which is what the first -223-There are also rumors of Taglioni who said, “I will dance not only before men, but also before girls.” And then the whole Kobler family was inaccessible outside the stage.
They lived together in a small suburban house of which they were the sole tenants, they did not accept anyone there; they did not go to a ball, to a restaurant, or to any amusement: they had no acquaintance even with their fellow actors.
One day we received an invitation from the Koblers for a “dance party” with my wife and I, and the Szigligets, who were most innate friends with us.
Where will the dance be? It made us curious. But even more so is the riddle of when we got together in the small cramped room and then we saw that no one but our family was official, and I am not a big dancer with Szigliget: who will dance here?
The room in which we were received also had an alcove and was covered with a curtain.
Old Kobler and his son welcomed us very warmly, for a few minutes the girls also showed up to greet the ladies, then retreated to the kitchen to prepare the ozone.
Kobler’s apartment was an entire museum of the most valuable Chinese and Japanese rarities. The father and son were able to tell so many interesting experiences about their travels in exotic countries that it amused us more than any dance.
The girls then applied the gorgeous ozone, especially to the female guests with unprecedented delicacies and cakes whose secrets can only be learned from oriental chefs. There was also some extraordinary taste, flavor, bouquet in their drinks that made the man curious to know what the name of what he was drinking was-224-
Then, when the ozone was finished, old Kobler said, «now the dance performance begins».
For this, the two girls and the boy left behind the curtain of the alcoven.
Ahan! I thought the three of them would be giving the dance performance.
But there will be very tight space for it!
It was soon possible to see through the curtains that lanterns were lit inside and the first bell sounded.
Father Kobler took a seat in front of the curtain and began to play the violin. Then, on the second bell, the tapestry was drawn in two directions, and the richly decorated stage appeared in front of us, the middle of which was occupied by a rope dancer stand with a stretched rope. The back of the stage was covered by a second curtain that opened in two directions.
After the first sounds of music, the curtain opened and a Indus bajadér, brilliantly dressed in gold embroidery and enameled scofium, emerged from the dark background; two hands with the long balancing bar, two buttons at the end. There were tiny tans on the petals hanging from his belt. First, did you carefully test the stretched rope with one foot to see if it was taut enough? and then he greeted the audience with a graceful nod and ran forward with his legs alternating quickly to the whole stand, from there back and forth again.
Ah, I also forgot to say that the nice troublemaker was one foot tall.
Then he threw himself on the rope with bold escapes, so that it just bounced up from under him, sometimes halfway up, sitting on the rope in a sitting position, then swinging him on his back, throwing the weight bar out of his hand one last time, but it didn’t fall off that rope either, he stayed there and waved, swaying on, while the troublemaker jumping backwards, the clicks of the rope forced the discarded rod to leap after him, until finally the audience all -225-kissing with both hands, he disappeared behind the back curtains along with a rod.
The applause was great! We had to admit that automating human movements with such an amazing faith is already a real art.
But that was still nothing to the next. Old Kobler’s violin was now swaying to an Andalusian symphony, and behind that curtain came an ideal beautiful sylphid, in picturesque swinging attire; he no longer had the weight-bearing rod in his hand; he danced all freely. And then he danced all the tricks of ballet art down that one-stranded cord, the last one standing on the fingertips of one of his legs, leaping with sure boldness along it.
“I can’t take out the yarns that move that figure,” I told Kobler.
“There’s no twisting on this thread,” the old man said. Look at you.
And with it he turned his clippings in a semicircle above the head of the sylphid and beside his whole form; the dancing continued.
“Then there must be some kind of electrical connection between your legs and the wire that moves the machine hidden in it.”
The old man answered nothing but held his clippings in front of the sylphid and that dancing fairy jumped from the rope to the violin string and ran along it all the way to the hand of the mæstro that held the clipping; then Kobler got the fairy’s waist with the two fingers of his left hand and put it in my palm.
– Let’s see where the plane is?
There was no machine in it; it was an ordinary toy puppet, with the children having fun. We gave it hand in hand, everyone groped it back and forth; there was no other than a cotton-stuffed pump; necked both forwards and backwards, that such dolls are used to.
Then we handed the baby back to old Kobler, he -226-and he threw it on the rope, and at the same time he jumped to his feet again and danced on. His attire was a little embarrassed during the indiscreet scan; it was corrected by the fairy with great decentence.
– This is real witchcraft!
Third, on a capriction, two of his sons jumped out of the rope at once; they did the most impossible exercises together. The red-haired man jumped up on the black-haired man’s head and stood on his shoulders, last time he jumped through a saltomortal on the stage lamps, straight on my knees and broke his neck there.
We were all there from regret. But it’s a shame for the beautiful troublemaker.
– Don’t worry! said old Kobler. That’s good too. And with that, he threw the twisted neck bajazz back on the rope and turned his head back and danced.
I have never seen a miracle like this in my life!
That ended the performance; the two Miss Kobler and their brother came out from behind the curtain. They did all this magic.
But how? This is a headache.
We took out old Kobler, what’s the secret to this witchcraft? He just smiled at him.
“It’s such a simple thing that if I told you, everyone would laugh at it.” I also introduced these puppets to the King of the Netherlands, which also demanded the secret from me, but I could not serve him with all my respect. Famous impresarios besieged him to pass them on, offering plenty of big money; but for money I neither show up my invention nor sell the secret.
And it is still a secret to me what I saw on the small stage of the Koblers.
When these art puppets were left alone, after a performance, drinking a thimble of pigs, next to a hummingbird, what could they talk to each other? Because I can’t doubt they could talk.