The robot (or mannequin) is an illusionary dance style - often confused with popping - that attempts to imitate a dancing robot or mannequin. It was originated by Charles Washington, also known as "Charles Robot" in the late 1960s.
All movements of the Robot are started and finished with a lock, to give the impression of motors starting and stopping. The dancer's posture is initially kept rigid at all times until he or she has mastered the technique and is able to relax while maintaining the robotic illusion.
Because the Robot, popping, and locking are closely related, Robot dancing is often confused with popping and liquid dancing in general. The Robot, however, refers only to the technique of imitating a humanoid robot.
A variation on the robot is the "broken robot" style, where various parts of the dancer's body are shaken rapidly, giving the impression that the robot is breaking down. A lock-and-release of joints can also give the appearance of supports breaking down. The dancer may also freeze with an arm straight to the side with lower arm swaying.
A further deviation from the commonly accepted robot routine is the Malfunctioner, which is most often segued into from the "broken robot." Usually saved for the culmination of the dance, this move involves the performer stiffening, moving their joints in an exaggeratedly jerky fashion with a look of confusion on their face, and finally feigning a fall to the ground. The move attempts to leave the onlooker with the impression that the robot has completely ceased to function.
As with popping in general, the visual impact of the robot can be boosted by doing it in pace with music. The best effect is achieved with music that has very distinct beats such as electrofunk. It is nonetheless common to use music not particularly suited for the dance, but which has a "robot theme", such as The Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" and Styx's "Mr. Roboto".
Unlike most other dances, the robot may also be accompanied a cappella by making vocal impressions of beeps and other electro-mechanical noises.