Usually we don’t have too many opportunities to enjoy Taiwanese cultural events in Budapest, but during this autumn we are lucky to have here the famous performance of a Taiwanese dancer and choreographer in October and also to have Taiwan Dox, Taiwanese documentary film days on November 2-4.
Huang Yi & KUKA (黃翊與庫卡) is a work by Huang Yi (黃翊) and his robot partner KUKA, which can be seen in Trafó on the 5th and 6th of October. Named by Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch,” Huang Yi is widely considered as one of Asia’s most prolific choreographers. He has received awards for his work at Digital Arts Center Taipei and the 3rd Cross Connection Ballet International Choreography Competition in Copenhagen, among many others across Europe and Asia.
We met Huang Yi for a short interview during the preparation for his show in Trafó and asked him about the performance, his robot partner, Taiwan and his first impressions about Hungary.
Theater in Budapest: Is KUKA, your robot partner in the performance an ‘it’, a ‘he’ or a ‘she’?
Huang Yi: For me KUKA is a him. During this performance I transfer my movements to him a lot, so he is like my reflection in the mirror, he copies my movements.
How can a robot come to life?
The most important difference between the movements of humans and robots is in the details. Robots move really fast, they go directly to one place and change to another and there is almost nothing in-between. They use every body part to do the same movement in similar position. It looks very robotic. A human is the opposite; there are many details during the moving process. Our body parts always move to different directions in the same time. During this performance, you have the feeling that the robot is alive, because I used the human movement logic and logistics with the robot. His body parts move separately so he looks like a human.
What is the most important message of this performance?
There are many different topics and layers in this performance; how to balance between humans and robots, human beings and technology. It is an important topic nowadays. We tend to think that future is quite distant from us, but it is not. Everyone is living in technology. It already influences us a lot. For me technology is our collaborator. It is not against us, we balance each other and we help each other. We can collaborate with robots to make our life easier, more successful and healthier.
What would you highlight about Taiwan to the Hungarian audience?
Taiwan is a really small place and many people still don’t notice it. Nowadays it starts to be known because most parts of the iPhone are made in Taiwan. It is a place which develops a lot of high-tech parts and also many high-tech companies are based in Taiwan so we deliver many different technology products to the whole world. So I would introduce Taiwan as a high-tech place, but also culture is really beautiful there.
So was KUKA born in Taiwan, too?
No, KUKA is German. But for me there are no boundaries in Taiwan, it is quite free. We mix many different countries’ technology and many different cultures together in this performance. We are using music by composers’ from the whole globe and also KUKA is from Europe.
What are your first impressions about Budapest?
I didn’t have much time to discover the city, because now I am working on a new work which is called ‘Under the horizon’ and will be about the refugees. The shoes on the riverside made a huge impact on me. I spent a lot of time just sitting there and observing those shoes. There is a pair of kid shoes, people put some candies in it. It is really touching.
Please, tell us about your new work.
With this new work I really want to deliver the message that everyone has to think about history to avoid repeating those horrible things again in the future. I am really worried about it, the whole world becomes very strange, the weather is strange, there are many wars and it never stops.
When will you launch this new performance?
In 2018, in the Netherlands.
(Photos by Jacob Blickenstaff, courtesy of Huang Yi Studio +)