From ballerina to a robot in Ex Machina

Devang BhanushaliBallet, dancers, insights Leave a Comment

You must be wondering what do ballerinas have to do with a psychological sci-fi thriller, one of the best in recent times. No, it doesn’t dazzle the viewers with ultra-high special effects, but what is captivating in the movie are the actors’ portrayal of the characters which is nothing short of spellbinding on a hot topic of recent times – Artificial Intelligence (AI). Ex Machina is directed by Alex Garland.The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander , Oscar IssacEx Machina tells the story of a programmer who is invited by his employer to administer the Turing Test  to a robot with Artificial Intelligence.

Without giving away ‘any’ spoilers here, you must see this movie for android ‘Ava’ played by the beautiful and talented Alicia Vikander. Alicia Vikander is a Swedish actress and dancer. She trained in ballet from the age of 9 with the Royal Swedish Ballet School. At the age of 15, she moved into upper school in Stockholm to become a principal dancer. She appeared in several musicals at the Gothenburg Opera, such as The Sound of Music, Les Miserables and travelled around the world for summer course, training one summer at the School of American Ballet.

Director Alex Garland did not want to have a typical robot, one that is extremely different from humans like you see in most films. Apart from giving a complete different spin to the form of the robot, he wanted the robot to be as close to human as possible yet remarkably different in its characteristic and physicality– a subtle balance which he achieved  in Ex Machina through Alicia Vikander, exploiting her experience in ballet.

Alicia’s ballet training enabled a kind of slightly preternatural control over physicality that gave the machines a feel of otherness. Garland thinks it also relates to us, not as machines or as ballet dancers;seductive not in an eroticized way but in that it makes you lean forward because, you’re intrigued by this strange,semi-perfection that we, neither as humans nor the actors, really posses, yet comes across as this supernatural quality through their performance.

Garland says that due to ballet training, Alicia created a language of movement that was like us –it did not alienate us by being robotic or clunky and at the same time had some of the floating sense of otherness about it. The many years of ballet training was invaluable to their performances as it meant they had such discipline and control over their bodies that she could express a great deal about their characters with just slight movements.

This movie also debuts Sonoya Mizuno, a British -Japanese actress, model and ballerina. She attended the Royal Ballet School as a child and graduated from the Royal Ballet School before working for many ballet companies including Ballet Ireland, New English Ballet Theatre and Scottish Ballet.



In your life, has ballet training helped you or given you any advantage in your career or studies or day to day activities?

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