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Friday, 11 April 2014

Friday's French music break - Compagnie Blanca Li, "Robot!"

Friday's French music break this week is something a little different.

First of all it's not French.

And second of all (don't you just hate it when people say that?) it's not music.

Instead it a performance of "Robot!" (with music of course) from the Blanca Li dance company.

It's the Spanish choreographer's latest creation and one which premiered at the Festival Montpellier Danse 2013 and then ran for a series of 11 dates at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris at the end of last year and the beginning of 2014 before going on a national tour of France.

Images (screenshot from video trailer of "Robot!" on Blanca Li official site)

Li sets out to explore the relationship between human beings and machines - in all their forms including robots, computers, vending terminals, cash distributors, barcodes and GPS.

And in the process she poses questions such as "whether our robotic alter egos will one day express feelings?" And if so, "would they be a reflection of what humanity unconsciously wants to represent?"

To help her explore these (and other) issues, Li enrolled the help of the most bizarre and "wonderfully whimsical" music composed and played by the Japanese art group Maywa Denki and their "elaborately over-engineered electronic and mechanical instruments and devices".

And the miniature NAO robots (provided by the French robotics company Aldebaran), taking their very first steps, "dancing" in unison or giving a rendition of "Besame Mucho" (with Li's voice).

Images (screenshot from video trailer of "Robot!" on Blanca Li official site)

In the midst of all this are the company's eight dancers who put on a sometimes graceful, often gymnastic and always exhausting physical display.

Sure, "Robot!" isn't everyone's choreographed cup of tea but it's entertaining and innovative nonetheless.

And there's something rather thought provoking surely about the idea of those in the audience perhaps pondering (or not) as to what the heck they're doing watching a robot "sing and dance".

There are still a handful of dates scheduled in France for both ""Robot!" and another show the company is currently performing, "Elektro kif".

You can find out when and where on the official website.

For the moment though, here's a glimpse of what you might have missed...possibly without regret. But there again dance, just any other art form, is a matter of personal taste.

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