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Do ‘the robot’: Collaboration dance fest features robotic team-up

Going armed: Dancer and choreographer Catie Cuan created a dance with an industrial robot, which she will perform in Greenpoint on Sept. 14.
Brooklyn Paper
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You bop, she bop, and he ’bot!

A dance festival of unlikely team-ups will pair female choreographers with knitters, comedians, and a robot. The “Collaborat­ions in Dance Festival,” starting in Greenpoint on Sept. 13, aims to support women who step outside the confines of the dance world, said the festival’s guest curator.

“The dance festival celebrates dance makers who work with other mediums and collaborate with individuals outside of the dance world,” said Trina Mannino. “I had an idea to present my own work, dance and a knitting installation, which is not often easy to execute in a lot of traditional theater spaces. But knowing that the theater is open to experiment, I wanted to be supportive of young artists who integrate other art forms in their field.”

Among the artists Mannino chose for the fest is Catie Cuan, who will perform a 30-minute dance piece on Sept. 14, created alongside an industrial manufacturing robot housed at Pratt Institute. The Crown Heights choreographer is really stepping beyond the boundaries of dance, said Mannino.

“I was looking for someone that was pushing dance in a new direction and using technology imitating art, and art imitating life,” she said.

Cuan said that she spent a year working with the gigantic robot, which is essentially a single giant arm, creating a dance that mimics and responds to its mechanical movement. The robot itself cannot be moved, so she filmed its motions, which will be projected onto a screen behind Cuan as she dances.

“The audience won’t see actually see any robots, but they’ll see a three-dimensional projection with a little bit of light manipulati­on,” she said.

Her dance was inspired by the way that people seem to be enthralled, but also bewildered with robots. Her dance piece will explore the limits of robot capabilities, and how they have evolved, she said.

“Perception of control is fascinating to me and people think of machines as either mystical or something with human input, and the latter is more truthful and I wanted to draw out why or why not,” she said. “Those are some of the things that are intriguing to me. I provoke questions on how to feel about that, and big questions around movement data and how that translates across moving forms.”

“Collaborat­ions in Dance Festival” at Triskelion Arts [106 Calyer St. at Banker Street in Greenpoint, (718) 389–3473, www.triskelionarts.org]. Sept. 13–16 at 7:45 pm; Sept. 20–22 at 8 pm. Catie Cuan performs on Sept. 14. $22 ($18 in advance).

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.
Updated 12:49 pm, September 14, 2018
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