© Jan-Pieter Fuhr
© Jan-Pieter Fuhr

Man and machine dance together on a virtual ballet stage: a Kuka industrial robot is one of the main actors in this unusual piece at the Staatstheater Augsburg. Viewers follow the 360-degree staging from home using virtual reality glasses.

Normally, the KR Iontec from the Augsburg-based automation specialist is used in industrial production for tasks such as welding, palletizing or assembly. But this time, on loan to the Staatstheater Augsburg, the robot interacts with 17 dancers on a theatre stage.

The focus of the production is on the theme of human-machine interaction, with technical programming juxtaposed with human consciousness. The premiere will be on September 10, 2021, from that day “Kinesphere” can be ordered.

As an innovative ballet experience, the piece is part of the virtual reality productions of the Augsburg State Theatre. The VR glasses are delivered to the audience’s homes throughout Germany. Viewers can immerse themselves in the 360-degree performance from the comfort of their sofa at home.

Combining technology and art This is not the first time that Kuka industrial robots have been used outside of production halls in the cultural scene. The Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, for example, combines the thematic fields of art, technology and society. Among other things, the exhibition “Creative Robotics” – a cooperation with Kuka – showed industrial robots away from the factory floor and dealt with them as a tool for creative expression.

In 2019, choreographer and dancer Huang Yi danced with a KR Cybertech during a festival in Düsseldorf. And at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, as part of an art installation, a Kuka robot wrote Hebrew letters on an approximately 80-meter-long roll of paper with a quill and ink at the speed of human handwriting.