The relationship between dance and robotic fabrication – with video

01 August 2016

share this:

UCL’s Interactive Architecture Lab has developed a new type of choreography – one that explores the potential for dialogue between humans and robots – and the way we might design cooperatively in the future. Fabricating Performance is the brainchild of Syuko Kato and Vincent Huyghe, bringing together their specialisms of dance and robotic systems.

Inspired by existing notational languages in dance, Fabricating Performance evolves what have traditionally been graphic, symbolic systems and proposes a new way of interpreting and representing movement, through the generation of architectural-scale sculptures. We have designed a live custom-fabrication system, which combines methods of designing dance and architecture – and turns robots into creative collaborators. Body movement is tracked, analysed and translated into tool paths for fabrication by a robotic armature and an industrial CNC pipe bending machine. Discrete construction elements are fabricated in response to the dancer/designers performance.

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Through the system, a dancer’s gestures are captured as motion data and interpreted into manufacturing protocols. These protocols become instructions that guide the fabrication of physical representations of the dance, which then exist within a shared arena. Repeating this process creates a continuous and constantly changing the conversation between human and robot, turning both into equally influential participants in a unique, interactive and iterative performance.

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Source: Syuko Kato, UCL Interactive Architecture Lab

Read our paper for the Architecture In Play Conference July 2016.

Key references 

Binkley, T. (1993), Refiguring Culture, Future Visions: New Technologies of the Screen, London: British Film Institute Publications, pp. 90-122.

Elsewit, K. (2008), The Some of the Parts: Prosthesis and Function in Bertolt Brecht, Oskar Schlemmer, and Kurt Jooss, Modern Drama

Gage, S. (2007), Constructing the User, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Wiley InterScience, pp.313-322

Gehm, S., Husemann, P., & von Wilcke, K. (Eds.). (2007), Knowledge in Motion: Perspectives of Artistic and Scientific Research in Dance. transcript Verlag.

Goldberg, R. (2012), tonight: The Languages of Dance, Performance: The Art of Notation [Online] Available from: [Accessed: 30rd December 2014]

Goulthorpe, M., et al. (2001), ‘Aegis Hyposurface: The Bordering of University and Practice’, Work-in-Progress, Part1, ACADIA, p.p. 344-349

Groves, R, M. (2012), William Forsythe and Practice of Choreography: It starts from Any Point (review), Dance Research Journal, 44:2, winter2012, pp.117-121

Kamvasinou, K. (2010), Notation timelines and the aesthetics of disappearance, The Journal of Architecture, 15:4, pp.397-423, DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2010.507517

Kolarevic, B. & Malkawi, A. (2008), Performative Architecture: Beyond Instrumentality, Available at:

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964), The primacy of perception: and other essays on phenomenological psychology, the philosophy of art, history, and politics. Northwestern University Press.

Negroponte, N. (1970), The Architecture Machine: Toward a More Human Environment, Cambridge: MIT Press

Rentschler,Ingo et al. (1988), Dance, the fugitive form of art. Aesthetics as Behaviour, Beauty and the Brain, Birkhäuser, Basel Boston Berlin

Salter, C. (2010), Entangled: technology and the transformation of performance. MIT Press.

Schwabe, C. (2010), Eureka and Serendipity: The Rudolf von Laban Icosahedron and Buckminster Fuller ’ s Jitterbug.Bridges, pp.271–278.

Sparacino, F., Wren, C., Davenport, G., & Pentland, A. (1999). Augmented performance in dance and theater. International Dance and Technology, 99, 25-28.

Sparacino, F. (2002), Narrative Spaces: bridging architecture and entertainment via interactive technology. In 6th International Conference on Generative Art, Milan, Italy.

Sparacino, F. (2008), Natural Interaction in Intelligent Spaces: Designing for Architecture and Entertainment, Multimedia Tools and Applications Journal, Springer

Spurr, S. (2007), Chance encounters between body and Buildings: New technologies in architecture and dance.

Thomsen, M.R. (2004), Discovering Mixed Reality, University College London

Tschumi, B. (1996), Architecture and Disjunction. The MIT Press

Waterhouse, E. et al. (2014), Doing Duo – a case study of entrainment in William Forsythe’s choreography “Duo”, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, October 21, DOI: 8:812, 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00812

Weinstein, B. (2008). Flamand and His Architectural Entourage, Journal of Architectural Education, 61:4, pp.25-33, DOI: 10.1111/j.1531-314X.2008.00184.x

Weinstein, B. (2013), Performing Architectures: Closed and open logics of mutable scenes, Performing Research: A Journal of the Performing arts, 18:3, pp.161-168, DOI: 10.1080/13528165.2013.818328

Source of Figure

Positive space image: Gjon, Mili. (1947), Ballet Essay Stroboscopic image of ballerina Nora Kaye doing a pas de bourree. [Online] Available from: (Accessed: 12 June 2015).

tags: , ,

Syuko Kato is a researcher at UCL Interactive Architecture Lab.
Syuko Kato is a researcher at UCL Interactive Architecture Lab.

Related posts :

Robots can be companions, caregivers, collaborators — and social influencers

People are hardwired to respond socially to technology that presents itself as even vaguely social. While this may sound like the beginnings of a Black Mirror episode, this tendency is precisely what allows us to enjoy social interactions with robots and place them in caregiver, collaborator or companion roles.
26 November 2021, by

Interview with Tao Chen, Jie Xu and Pulkit Agrawal: CoRL 2021 best paper award winners

The award-winning authors describe their work on a system for general in-hand object re-orientation.
24 November 2021, by



How Simbe Robotics is Innovating in Retail, with Brad Bogolea

Brad Bogolea discusses the innovation behind Tally, the autonomous robot from Simbe Robotics. Tally collects real-time analytics inside retail stores to improve the customer shopping experience, as well as the efficiency of managing the store.
23 November 2021, by

Top 10 recommendations for a video gamer who you’d like to read (or even just touch) a book

Here is the Robotics Through Science Fiction Top 10 recommendations of books that have robots plus enough world building to rival Halo or Doom and lots of action or puzzles to solve. What’s even cooler is that you can cleverly use the “Topics” links to work in some STEM talking points.
20 November 2021, by

Top tweets from the Conference on Robot Learning #CoRL2021

In this post we bring you a glimpse of the conference through the most popular tweets about the conference written last week. Cool robot demos, short and sweet explanation of papers and award finalists to look forward to next year's edition.
19 November 2021, by

Finding inspiration in starfish larva

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a tiny robot that mimics the movement of a starfish larva. It is driven by sound waves and equipped with tiny hairs that direct the fluid around it, just like its natural model. In the future, such microswimmers could deliver drugs to diseased cells with pinpoint accuracy.
17 November 2021, by

©2021 - ROBOTS Association


©2021 - ROBOTS Association