Review: Huang Yi and KUKA Bring Their Dance to College Park

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, The Little Prince, explores the philosophy behind developing relationships. At one moment in the story, a small prince is walking through a strange desert when he happens upon a fox. The fox explains to the prince that to him, the fox is nothing more but a fox like any other.

“If you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world,” the fox said to the prince.

During Huang Yi’s Friday night performance at The Clarice, he danced with a programmed robot named KUKA. They seemed to tame each, displaying the gentleness of a budding friendship. The show began with the dancer and the robot in different spotlights. As the dance went on, they grew closer, more brave.

This show was the first of the new Artist Partner Program Series at The Clarice, which features artists from around the globe.

At the start, the lights flickered off, making it impossible to see anything. An audience of about 60 made a collective conscious effort to breathe quietly as not to disrupt the silence.

Huang Yi and KUKA began by moving in sync on opposite sides of the stage, exploring the dark spaces together. Eventually, they came closer, gracefully and with an extraordinary economy of movement. One could tell that the entire show was choreographed meticulously.

Bryce Peterson a sophomore mechanical engineering major was surprised at this unique use of a robot.

“You felt like he was really connected to the robot, and he was using it in a way that it was not designed to be used essentially,” Peterson said.

“He gave it some sort of emotion, and that’s not easy to do with an object,” he said. “That’s not how robots typically move.”

The dance has a dark history. Huang Yi watched his parents go through suicide attempts. This connection to his parents is clear in the last scene of the show when a woman and a man are seen to be made dancing forcibly by the robot, directed by a red laser beam. They looked like corpses being pulled toward each other into a strangely detached embrace.

Yi provided a fascinating perspective on the delicate nature of relationships with flashing laser beams, a robot and a unification of cello music and silence.

Featured Photo Credit: Huang Yi & KUKA. (by Jacob Blickenstaff)

WritersBloc_Headshots_22Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at

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