A bizarre duet between a dancer and digger will be appearing in the East End this weekend

If anyone says that they have seen a man balancing precariously on the upturned bucket of a large excavator, or hanging from its lip several metres above the ground, we are most likely to turn to the e-pages of YouTube to see the latest round of insanities posted by irresponsible construction workers. But, this time, we’d be looking in the wrong place, because these acts of bravado are, in fact, a legitimate piece of performance art.

Believe it or not, this is a man actually dancing with a 13-tonne digger, as part of the major London-based contemporary dance festival, Dance Umbrella, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, this autumn.

The work has been choreographed by Dominique Boivin for Compagnie Beau Geste, a French dance ensemble and is described as ‘a work of unexpected delicacy between man and machine’. The Guardian has declared it to be ‘the romance of the season’.

The aptly entitled ‘Transports Exceptionneles’ has been touring Europe since it premiered in 2005. It is always danced by the same human part of this odd couple, Phillippe Priasso, but it’s not clear whether he remains entirely faithful to the same digger. This bizarre but highly intimate duet is split into three musical parts with movement choreographed to Saint-Saens, Bellini and Massenet, with the first and last arias recorded by Maria Callas.

This unique dance between man and machine can be seen for free at Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets at 11.30 am and 4pm on Friday (17 October); London Fields, Hackney at 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm on Saturday (18 October); and Central Park, East Ham at the same times on Sunday (19 October).