Internationally-acclaimed dancer and choreographer Akram Khan has spent his career researching the big stories of our time and distilling them into dance. In this unique project for Channel 4, he is exploring the impact robots and AI are having right now on human relationships – and meets the cutting-edge robots which are set to infiltrate our futures. Following his encounters with these incredible machines, he interrogates his own reactions to them and improvises ideas to produce an exhilarating new piece of dance that captures and anticipates a future of man and machine’s coexistence.
Travelling from the UK to Japan and USA, Akram meets the robots already co-existing with humans and the scientists harnessing artificial intelligence and the most advanced robotic mobility techniques to create eerily humanistic machines for the 21st century. Initially wary of the potential threats robots pose to society and sceptical of their emotional intelligence ability, Akram is surprised to meet people who have established meaningful companionships with them; people who have chosen to embrace them as colleagues and welcome them as members of their own family.
Akram’s work from Giselle with the English National Opera Ballet to the London Olympics Opening Ceremony has always been based on observing the way people move and interact. In this context, he studies the way robots have been animated in order to replicate and incorporate their movements in dance. He meets the experts who are building in responsive movements and reactions from robots as well as an ability to read and mimic human emotions and aiming to preparing them to negotiate the complex rules of social etiquette of movement.
All of Akram’s encounters with these robots of now and tomorrow culminate in the finale of this visually stunning film – he presents a powerful and exclusive work with dancer Ching Ying Chien which portrays the emotional tensions and connections in human-robot relationships. Tensions and connections which we can all expect need to encounter sooner rather than later.
1×1 hour for Channel 4
Distributed by All3 Media International