On a recent afternoon, an unexpected guest wandered into our Paris Atelier with a very special request - a new pair of stage-ready, custom made Christian Louboutin shoes. His name was Pierre and he is among the tiny humanoid stars of Robot, the new show from renowned Spanish choreographer, dancer and friend to Christian Louboutin, Blanca Li.
Premiering June 9th at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn after a wildly successful European run, the futuristic and irreverent ballet is an allegory for the technological world we live in today. “In every moment, I see how technology and machines are becoming part of my life. The more we interact with them, the more they become a necessity. From this idea of a world where machines are surrounding us, I thought I should stage a show where machines have a role as dancers or musicians, or performers in general.” says Li of Robot.
Humans and machines sing and dance, fall in and out of love, and care for one another in the whimsical world of Robot, and eight human dancers are given the task of teaching the child-like NAO robots, each with a distinctly different personality, how to dance. The result is a magical and amusing performance that explores the relationships between human and artificial bodies, while posing larger scale questions about the future of society in an increasingly technological landscape.
The dancers in Robot, both human and otherwise, are accompanied by a whimsical 10-piece mechanical orchestra that, like automates, play themselves. “On stage, I sought to subvert technological encroachment with an original score performed by purely mechanical machines,” explains Li of the instruments created by award-winning Japanese design team Maywa Denki headed by Novmichi Tosa. Doubling as poetic and charming low-tech art installations inspired by Tosa’s father’s electric factory, the orchestra constructed from DIY elements adds a playful percussive soundtrack to the show’s retro-future aesthetic.
The success of Robot is not only a result of its voracious creative vision, but its pursuance of technical innovation as the new zeitgeist: “Day and night, at home and beyond, across our planet, we live with machines of every kind. Our memories are becoming artificially augmented, we leave electronic footprints, and our identities are becoming inextricably digital. Every day we interact with countless devices, some of them automatic, most of them electronic, a few of them would be thinking-machines. All of them reflecting or recording our choices, our actions and our tastes.”
For those lucky enough to be in New York for the debut of Robot at BAM, visit bam.org for tickets - and for a glimpse into the wonderful world of Blanca Li, follow her on Instagramand Twitter at @BlancaLiOficial!