Photograph: © Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Alamy.

  • Words Stephanie d’Arc Taylor

A study of dancing androids.

Dance is associated with the emotional pinnacles of the human experience—love, joy, lust, art, insanity. Watching someone dance, or doing it ourselves, inspires emotions we struggle to access otherwise. This complicated relationship between movement and feeling is part of what makes us human. It makes sense, then, that artists and researchers working with robotics view the creation of a dancing robot as a meaningful tech frontier: How better to prove the skillful yet fundamentally unthreatening potential of humanoids than getting them to do the Mashed Potato?

The engineering company Boston Dynamics released a video in 2020 that went viral for its skillful robot choreography. One figure has a head, two legs and two arms. Its physiology mimics our own, so wa...


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