‘The performance you’re going to see has to do with robots. I chose this topic because I feel like a robot sometimes too.’Manolis Saridakis
Commissioned by Europe Beyond Access partner Onassis Stegi as part of its ongoing commitment to making dance accessible to persons with disabilities, Do Robots have emotions? is a ground-breaking dance piece – and debut choreography – created by emerging learning-disabled choreographer Manolis Saridakis.
With his disarmingly insightful dance piece, Manolis explores the very timely topic of robots, interweaving the crucial issue of control, as well as both artificial and emotional intelligence, with his own struggle for autonomy and freedom of expression. The choreographer himself appears on stage, programming each ‘robot’ to perform – individually and all together – a dance of their own. He then transports them to a virtual bar/club setting, where he issues new commands for feelings ‘on demand’! On the dance floor, cocktail in hand, each ‘robot’ takes on the emotion assigned to it, upending the relationships between them in the process and culminating in the climactic scene of Manolis’ sci-fi adventure.
Do Robots have emotions? has been premiered at the Onassis New Choreographers Festival 9 – ONC 9 that took place from 11–13 March 2022.
The Onassis New Choreographers festival – Greece’s foremost festival for a new generation of dance artists – returns for its ninth year with a six-hour, three-day marathon featuring six original works and two installations.
The festival programme includes both commissioned artists making their Onassis Stegi debuts and works that have developed from ongoing partnerships with movement and dance makers.
The creative process
In preparing the choreography, Manolis conducted an interview and carried out research into robots. The areas he looked at include how robots move and help people, whether they have a mechanical heart and if robot and human brains are the same. He was also interested in learning if they are ever bored when they do chores and if they do whatever they want or what humans want them to do.
Ahead of and in parallel with rehearsals, Manolis received mentoring from Medie Megas, a dancer, choreographer and dance/choreography history teacher. The mentoring programme consisted of talks, discussions and practical exercises covering everything from artistic practices, methodological tools and the relationship between artist and audience to dramaturgy, contemporary collective practices and disability and accessibility perspectives.
About Manolis Saridakis
Manolis Saridakis is based in Athens and works in dance, theatre and music. He received his training as a contemporary dancer and choreographer as part of the Onassis Stegi’s iDance, Europe Beyond Access and Unlimited Access programmes in Greece and abroad, and took part in contemporary and African dance workshops at the Liminal arts organisation.
Manolis has appeared in the Onassis Stegi productions Sweet Abyss and Deep Fusion Butterfly Band among others, as well as in a large number of theatrical performances staged by Artogether (Art of people with and without disabilities). He features in the documentary film I Am a Dancer directed by Stavros Petropoulos and produced by Onassis Stegi.
He is currently studying découpage at the Theotokos Foundation, music at the National Conservatory of Athens and qigong at the Spring of the Young Forest School for Martial Arts.
- Concept: Manolis Saridakis
- Choreography: Manolis Saridakis, in collaboration with the dancers
- Dancers: Olympia Antonena, Eirini Kourouvani, Christos Christakopoulos, Manolis Saridakis
- Dramaturgy – Mentoring: Medie Megas
- Costumes: Marilena Kalaitzantonaki
- Lighting Design: Konstantinos Bethanis
- Make-up: Alexandra Rentzou
- Original Music: Christos Christakopoulos
- Additional Music: ‘Techno Eskalation!!!’ by Max Minimal also features in the performance
- Executive Producer: Christos Papamichael, Liminal
- Production Manager, Co-ordinator of artistic activities for Europe Beyond Access: Christina Liata, Onassis Stegi
- European Programmes Co-ordinator: Dora Vougiouka, Onassis Stegi
- Special thanks to: Niki Saridaki, Fotini Gioti, Giannis Makris, Manolis Andriotakis, Rodia Vomvolou