Dance the future. Neïtah Janzing on SIMPLE MACHINES

On the middle of the stage, a wooden table illuminated by LEDs. The audience sits around it, and Ugo Dehaes, the choreographer, starts to talk about how he came to use robots: while he was working with people, he was always struggling with money. Taking inspiration from major wealthy corporations, he decided to fire his dancers and get robots to substitute them.

The first robots he bought were boxes. Moving boxes. Their interior: like a ribcage. It has something calming for him, to know that his robots have something human, something he can relate to.

But soon Dehaes realised that buying robots is expensive. Like the farmers in Minnesota – or Brandenburg – he started breeding his own robots.

We get to witness the different stages of the breeding process, from colorful skinned cocoons to structures resembling brownish bone-like metal. We watch as the “baby”-robots learn to move, to walk, to dance and go independently around the table to meet us. Sometimes we need to guide them back to the center or catch them before they topple. It is a first encounter between the “babies” and the audience.

Dehaes soon realised that teaching the robots to be good dancers would consume too much of his time. He had to seek a more efficient alternative. “AI is a chip in which you write all the pre-sets, and it will translate them into the desired movements,” explained a 10-year-old child, fascinated by the moving creatures in front of him.

Through the use of AI and the involvement of a prior audience, two robots perform three dances for us.

This is followed by the “teenager”-robots, the finger robots, reaching a first peak during the “Swan Lake ballet” by robots, complete with a robotic orchestra.

More follows, but I will stop here – the rest is legend and needs to be discovered by oneself.

I will just add that the paternal connection from Dehaes towards the robots, his way of presenting the different stages of his thinking and experimentations makes the whole a feast for the audience.


Neïtah Janzing is a set and costume designer, and sometimes a writer. Her favorite playrooms are the constantly new flats she is moving in.

»Simple Machines«
Ugo Dehaes

Konzept, Choreografie, Spiel: Ugo Dehaes/ Szenografie, Komposition: Wannes Deneer/ Dramaturgie:
Marie Peeters/ Silikonobjekte: Rebecca Flores/ Konstruktion: Kristof Morel/ Dolmetscherin: Leah Wewoda/ Produktion: kwaad bloed & Tuning People

In Koproduktion mit

In Zusammenarbeit mit

Vincent Company

Gefördert von
De Vlaamse Overheid and VGC

Mit Dank an
AI Experience Center VUB, Caroline Pauwels, De Factorij, Gertjan Biasino, Hans De Cank, Pol Eggermont, Roeland Luyten