Monday, February 06, 2006

Dancing Robots to Debut

By Penelope Debelle

Enter the robots, towering, ambulatory, geometric structures that cross art deco with Lego, or smaller, silvery creatures that swarm across the stage with bunched spidery legs. They perform as equal partners with the Australian Dance Theatre at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March, separately or strapped to the dancers' bodies like mutated insect prosthetics.

The performance, Devolution, was created by ADT artistic director Garry Stewart and his collaborator, French-Canadian Louis-Philippe Demers.

Demers, who has created more than 175 machines, is a freelance designer who specialises in machines as media. He has integrated a robot into a dance performance before, but never collaborated in work where robots and dancers move together. The software is complex and tedious to construct yet the machines, at times, mimic the organic movement of humans.

"The machines are so stereotyped, so loaded by science fiction, but these are really abstract, moving shapes," Demers says. "It's more like challenging the notion of what is life, rather than just saying 'man versus machine'."

So far, there is no word from the dancers union over the wages for the on-stage robots.

Closing gap between man and machine - Arts - Entertainment -


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