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Dancer Duets With A Remote-Controlled Helicopter

Nina Kov’s Copter pairs a dancer with a toy helicopter.

Nina Kov - Copter from Kevin Holmes on Vimeo.

Remote-controlled helicopters are usually found down the local park, being test driven by kids and overgrown kids alike. They’re not the sort of thing you’d expect to see onstage in a dance performance, but that’s what choreographer Nina Kov used as a dance companion in her 20-minute piece Copter.

Kov has used technology in her choreography before in Divide by Zero, where she paired a dancer with reactive visuals created by Hellicar & Lewis. This time the visuals were replaced by the buzzing of a helicopter that danced around the stage, interacting with Kov’s movements. “The helicopter was not just a prop,” Kov told me, “but a proper character in the show, a proper dancer almost—it's really based on how we can use technology to try new communication modes inside the show itself to reach the spectator in a different way.”


So why a helicopter? Apart from Kov being obsessed with being able to fly, she said it can immediately conjure up a cross-section of different ideas. It can represent wealth, rescue, surveillance, and war while, being a toy, it’s also intrinsically linked to childhood. “The show is about how we desire to fly when we are children, but how when we are adults we look at a helicopter and when we think about what we wanted it to be when we are children, we realize the helicopter is here but the helicopter is not this fantasy of flying, it’s just up there looking at you, unnerving you.”

The Place Prize for dance 2012. Sponsored by Bloomberg. Photo: Benedict Johnson

Something flying around above our heads peering down at us is always going to be unsettling, just look at the negativity surrounding drones, they’ve become a symbol of all that’s bad about technology and its power to act without emotion.

For Kov our relationship to technology is a dualistic one, because while on the one hand we fear it on the other it fascinates us and fills us with hope for the future. “We have this fear of technology—it symbolizes the otherness and the unknown—because it can kill us and we have this hope because it can save us at the same time. And I'm fascinated by this relationship of fear and hope, it symbolizes the unknown inside ourselves and we project all kinds of human attributions from the unconscious onto machines because we have no idea what it’s like.”

And this, not the technology, is what her work is about—the human unconscious and the desires and emotions it contains, hides, and occasionally unleashes.

The Place Prize for dance 2012. Sponsored by Bloomberg. Photo: Benedict Johnson