Canberra premiere of Lucie In The Sky

A world-first dance production staged during the inaugural Uncharted Territory Festival and supported through a multi-year research collaboration with the ANU School of Cybernetics.

Events News Essays

Lucie In The Sky promotion sign at the Canberra Theatre Centre. Photo: Matthew Jelly
Lucie In The Sky promotion sign at the Canberra Theatre Centre. Photo: Matthew Jelly

The Canberra premiere of the Australasian Dance Collective (ADC) production ‘Lucie in the Sky’ dazzled audiences as the top-billed event in the inaugural Uncharted Territories Festival earlier this month. Lucie, a world-first artistic project in which tiny quadcopter drones and ADC artists perform together, explores emotional connection and intimacy in human-drone interactions, in stark contrast to the standard choreography or such drones in swarms for spectacle and entertainment. With Lucie, the ADC explores how we connect with advanced computing systems that permeate our presents and futures, and poses important questions about connection, community, vulnerability, power, and empathy in how we relate with AI-enabled systems.

The ANU School of Cybernetics’ ongoing research collaboration with the ADC on the production of Lucie explores how relationships between people and collaborative robots are envisioned, designed and realised. Research on Lucie is the first case study in the body of work the ‘Cybernetics of Rapport and Attentiveness’ (CORA) led by Professor Alex Zafiroglu. We are examining how the artists and drones are attuned to one another’s presence and actions in the onstage world, and how they demonstrate mutual attentiveness that animates their affect, or their outwards expressions of emotion, and their expressions of rapport, or their relationship of mutual understanding. With CORA, the School of Cybernetics addresses how we can learn to recognise the temporal rhythms, scale and logics that always and already structure our ‘here and now’ as we attend to, and are attended by, computational systems.

With sponsorship from the ANU School of Cybernetics, the Canberra premier of Lucie in the Sky was presented by the Canberra Theatre Centre on 14 July as part of the Uncharted Territory Festival, supported by the ACT Government.

Here is the recap of the premiere event.

pre-show reception
Guests gathered at the Canberra Museum and Gallery for a pre-show reception and official welcome from the Uncharted Territory Director, the School of Cybernetics and the Australasian Dance Collective. Photo: Matthew Jelly.
Yolande Norris
Welcome from Yolande Norris, Director of Uncharted Territory Festival, "There's been a desire for a number of years to really lean into Canberra's unique position as a knowledge capital and a knowledge economy. And a place where people are here learning, creating, researching, developing new ideas, new businesses." Photo: Matthew Jelly.
Genevieve Bell
ANU School of Cybernetics Director and Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell shared the multi-year journey of research collaboration between the Australasian Dance Collective and the School of Cybernetics, that informed Amy Hollingsworth’s creative exploration of relationships between people and drones, and her processes for Lucie In The Sky. Photo: Matthew Jelly.
Amy Hollingsworth
Amy Hollingsworth, Artistic Director of ADC, shared her experience, inspirations and challenges of envisioning and realising this world-first project. Photo: Matthew Jelly.
Guests moved to the Playhouse Theatre for the 60-mins dance performance. Photos and videos were not allowed during the show. Photo: Matthew Jelly.
At the end of the performance, all eleven stars took a bow. From left to right: ADC principal artist Chase Clegg-Robinson, Red (drone), ADC principal artist Jack Lister, Skip (drone), ADC principal artist Harrison Elliot, Lucie (drone), ADC principal artist Chimene Steele-Prior, M (drone), ADC principal artist Taiga Kita-Leong, Rue (drone), ADC principal artist Lilly King. Photo: Alex Zafiroglu.
after performance conversation
Dancing with Lucie, a post-show conversation explored how Lucie was produced, the multiple knowledge sets and skills necessary, and our past, present and futures relating with computational systems. From left to right: Catherine Ball (drone expert & futurist), Alex Zafiroglu (Professor at the ANU School of Cybernetics and CORA research lead), Dr Bobby Cerini (facilitator, Deputy Director and General Manager of Science and Learning at Questacon), Amy Hollingsworth (ADC Artistic Director) and Harrison Elliot (ADC principal artist). Photo: Matthew Jelly.
interacting with drones1
Guests were invited pre- and post-show to sessions in which they experimented with partnering and moving with virtual drones projected on giant screens. They explored how relationships and choreography between people and autonomous systems are created. Both fun and serious, guests discovered how moving with a system requires more than just behaviour or doing, but also creating a relationship, through communication, iterative feedback and turn taking. Photo: Matthew Jelly.
interacting with drones2
Photo: Alex Zafiroglu.

Learn more about the Cybernetics of Rapport and Attentiveness (CORA) Program

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