Dancers and drones partner up in pioneering new ADC work

ADC-Lucie-In-the-Sky-photo-by-David-KellyDancers and drones entwine in the provocative and poignant world premiere of Lucie In the Sky by Australasian Dance Collective (ADC) at QPAC Playhouse this May.

Brisbane-based ADC makes history with the ground-breaking production where drones are choreographed using movement patterns to mirror human emotions and personalities.

Conceived by ADC Artistic Director Amy Hollingsworth, Lucie In the Sky blends art and technology in an exploration of what it means to be human.

“Contemporary dance and technology push boundaries and connect people. I wanted to explore this through not only melding drones and dancers but, ultimately, humanising the drones,” said Hollingsworth.

“I am deeply interested in how the relationship between humans and autonomous machines can transform when the drones are imbued with human-like behaviours.”

Lucie In the Sky pairs ADC dancers with five drone characters choreographed to emulate human emotions and interact in nuanced interpersonal relationships.

Each drone is encoded with a unique personality, from joyful to melancholic, and is identifiable by the colour of its light source, selected to represent that personality.

The drone characters are Lucie – the friend, M – the leader, Skip – the jester, Red – the rebel and Rue – the sage.

Unlike other drone performances that use coordinated swarming, Lucie In the Sky invites the audience to know and understand the individual drones as they create on-stage relationships with ADC dancers.

Technical adviser Dr Catherine Ball founded the World of Drones and Robotics Congress, connecting with Hollingsworth at the inaugural event in 2017 and jointly seeding the idea for Lucie In the Sky.

She says the performance uses art to spark conversations about how technology embeds itself in daily lives and how humans can protect their values of consent and choice.

Lucie In the Sky is unique in terms of the technology being applied, the way dance is being used as the medium for conversation and the very audacity of trying to meld seemingly different parts of our worlds together,” she says.

“By physically mixing humans and agents – in this case, drones – provocatively, we can ask ourselves: is technology something we should have better control over or is it something we should allow to guide us over new horizons?”

ADC forged a partnership with Swiss-based Verity Studios – whose previous collaborators include Drake, Justin Bieber and Cirque Du Soleil – to create the cross-genre project named after a set of custom, trademarked micro drones called Lucie.

Funded through the Australian Government’s RISE Fund and philanthropic donations, Lucie In The Sky features lighting and stage design by Alexander Berlage, costume design by Harriet Oxley and an original score by Wil Hughes.

The project also incorporates a significant education and research program delivered in partnership with World of Drones Education and The Australian National University’s School of Cybernetics, illustrating a future where the arts sit at the heart of Artificial Intelligence (AI) studies.

“Creative experiments intertwining arts and technology enhance our ability to imagine our place in our future,” said Hollingsworth. “AI already permeates our lives but how humans and AI agents interact in the arts can be
inspired and guided by projects like this.”

Concept and Creation: Amy Hollingsworth | Choreography: Amy Hollingsworth in collaboration with ADC company artists | Drone Choreography: Amy Hollingsworth and Verity Studios | Drone Programming: Verity Studios | Technical Advisor: Dr Catherine Ball | Lighting Design: Alexander Berlage | Music Composition: Wil Hughes | Costume Design: Harriet Oxley

Lucie In the Sky
Playhouse – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Season continues to 13 May 2023

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Lucie In the Sky – photo by David Kelly