Robots and the new frontiers of dance

Uomo attaccato ad un ingranaggio volteggia nell'aria
Danza con me, Fonte Rai

Danza con me by Roberto Bolle on Rai 1 is a popular party which has welcomed 2021 in style, with 3,848,000 spectators and 17% share. This edition has focused on Vasco Rossi who presented his new single entitled Una canzone d’amore buttata via. The focus was also on Diodato, who proved to be also a good dancer in the theme song of Bond-007 and on Ghali. Bolle, in an original hip hop style, also involved Michelle Hunziker for musical accents from Flashdance to La La Land, leaving aside, in the era of Zoom, the pax de deux between the dancer and a technological partner, proposed in the previous years.

The duet with laser lights, recorded at the UN, however, had been already proposed at the inaugural gala on 7 December, on TV, to open the new season at La Scala. Similarly, the love dialogue with a large robot had made its debut on the small screen during the New Year’s show in 2019.

The American Boston Dynamics, for the 2021 celebration, made some of its human-resembling robots, called the Atlas, dance together with Spot, a yellow dog-like robot. The synchronized choreography, twist style on Do You Love Me by Contours, has been designed by Monica Thomas, an all-out experimenter with the Mad King Thomas working group.

However, in 2013 the choreographer and videomaker Blanca Li, friend of Pedro Almodovar, had already used the Japanese robots NAO and the creatures of Maywa Denki in order to make Robot!, a human-machine dance with irresistible effects. 

Merce Cunningham, the old big man, father of the American postmodern dance, caused a stir in 1999 with Biped. He used the motion-capture by putting sensors on dancers’ bodies in order to create a choreography in which humans interact with the virtual projections of dancers. 

In 2020, dance became familiar with image and sound technologies, on all kinds of machine-devices, and continued to live remotely on all types of screens, from mobile phones to television. Those who had hesitated to jump into the web before last summer, hoping for the return to the scene, in autumn-winter, in theaters now closed indefinitely, threw themselves headlong into the waves of internet. There are no alternatives.