A team at Mälardalen University, Sweden, has created a one meter-tall robotic swan that “performs” to the music of Swan Lake. The aim of the project is to explore the potential of robots to move people emotionally and mimic human expressions. So could this binary Baryshnikov represent the future of ballet?
The project is the brainchild of Professor of Computer Science, Lars Asplund, and his colleague Kerstin Gauffin who were inspired by a previous student’s degree project.
Dancer and choreographer Åsa Unander-Scharin choreographed specific movement patterns, which were then individually programmed into the robot’s internal computer.
The computer then recalls the pattern and the 19-joint robot “performs” to Tchaikovsky's music.
Comments from early audience members seem to confirm the success of the experiment, whereby the robot was described as being “touching”, “fascinating” and “beautiful”.
Åsa Unander-Scharin has been intrigued by the capacity of machines to affect people emotionally and often fuses dance performance with different mediums of technology.