Montrealers will at last have the chance to discover Wayne McGregor / Random Dance, a dance prodigy from London who has been making waves far beyond the Thames. The resident choreographer at the Royal Ballet in London, he works for a variety of cultural institutions – Opéra de Paris, Bolshoi, La Scala, Hollywood – and has collected all sorts of honours. Named Choreographer of the Year by ballettanz in 2009, McGregor has a keen interest in new technologies and artificial intelligence, and their choreographic possibilities. His works integrate video, visual art and 3D architecture, as well as virtual dancers. For his first presentation in Canada, his company Wayne McGregor / Random Dance will perform Entity at Danse Danse, a piece that has met with much acclaim, playing to sold-out audiences in some fifteen countries (including in Italia and France at the Biennales in Venice and Lyon).
“The foreground is pure dance, fast and furious.” (The Independent, London)
Since its initial performance at Sadler’s Wells in April 2008, Entity has been enthusiastically received and showered with awards: South Bank Show Award, International Movimentos Dance Award, Audience Award (Dance Week Festival in Zagreb), and accolades from ballettanz and the International Theatre Institute. In response to popular demand, the piece will be remounted at Sadler’s Wells in June 2009 for four performances.
“Everything is delivered with an impressive speed and intent, even ferocity: at any moment, you feel they may stretch out of their skin. […] Entity also develops into a great sexy beast of a piece.” (The Sunday Times, London)
Entity makes good use of ten talented and fully committed dancers and the contributions of the creative team. Film and video designer Ravi Deepres has created a fascinating multimedia universe, and the set design is by Patrick Burnier (winner of the 2005 Linbury Biennial Prize for stage design and resident designer at the Museum of Ethnography in Neuchâtel). The magnificent lighting design is by McGregor’s long-time collaborator Lucy Carter, and the soundscapes were composed by Jon Hopkins (Coldplay and Massive Attack) and Joby Talbot (The Divine Comedy).
“However, the point of Entity is surely the video image with which it opens and closes – of a sleek greyhound running and running on the spot. The miraculous strangeness and design of the moving form are McGregor’s ultimate inspiration.” (The Guardian, London)
Source of Inspiration
In an interview with the Financial Times of London, McGregor mentioned that the trigger for the piece was his reading of recent advances made in cognitive science. He has also long been interested in the work of Charles Darwin, and in the relationship between the brain and movement. That curiosity naturally led him to work with scientists. In 2003 McGregor was appointed Research Fellow of the Department of Neuroscience at Cambridge University. His research with the Cambridge team was the stimulus for Ataxia in 2004, Amu in 2005 and Entity in 2008, that latter an examination of the nature of kinesthetic intelligence. Details of the research are available on the company’s website, www.randomdance.org.
Apart from the theoretical aspect of McGregor’s work, what really strikes the audience is “the physical rush of the choreography that you take away from a McGregor performance – the mesh of high-speed detail, the interplay between the lyrical and the neurotic, the steely calligraphy of the limbs.” (The Observer, London)
The dance critic for the New York Times wrote that “that vocabulary also incorporates the paradoxes of Mr. McGregor own physical style: his capacity as a dancer to work at high speed with utter clarity, to be almost simultaneously fluid and jagged. The effect, as the dancers move in and out of duets, solos and larger groups with dreamlike inevitability, is spellbinding; a detailed flow of motion that implies narrative, emotion, drama, through its physical tensions and juxtapositions.”
“Often […] I have actively conspired to disrupt the spaces in which the body performs […] in an attempt to see the context of the body in a new or alien way.”
Wayne McGregor was the first contemporary dance choreographer to be appointed Resident Choreographer with The Royal Ballet. He was born in Stockport, England in 1970 and studied at Leeds University and also with José Limon in New York. In 1992 he founded his own company in London, Random Dance, at age 22. That same year he was appointed resident choreographer at The Place in London.
Two striking elements make McGregor’s work stand out. First is the unique quality of his dance vocabulary, an eccentric movement style which had its origins in his own long, lean and supple physique, resulting in a fluid dance, angular and energetic. Second is his brilliant use of new technologies. Between 1997 and 2000, he created The Millennarium (1997), Sulphur 16 (1998) and Aeon (2000), a trilogy that incorporated animation, digital film, 3D architecture, electronic sound and virtual dancers into the live choreography, thereby establishing his company’s signature. In Sulphur 16, the dancers were dwarfed by the presence of a shimmering virtual giant. In his piece Aeon, digitally created landscapes transported the dancers into what could easily be called another dimension.
In an interview with Evénement France, he explained that “the alliance between technology and the human body – the most extraordinary of machines – allows us to increase our potential. […] The body can pass beyond the barriers of time and space.”
McGregor uses technology to change the conditions of presentation, which influences the reaction of the audience. His piece 53 Bytes (1997), for example, was performed simultaneously by two sets of dancer and was viewed by audiences in the two countries via live satellite link. In 2000, he explored the possibility of reaching a wider global public by transmitting a live performance of his Trilogy installation over the Internet.
In 2001 Random Dance became the first resident company at the new Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and it has presented at least one new work every year since. Intrigued by neurological dysfunction, McGregor worked with the Experimental Psychology department at Cambridge in creating AtaXia (2004), a piece that explored the connection between brain and body movement. For Amu (2005), he teamed up with heart imaging specialists in an exploration of the physical functions and symbolic resonances of the heart. His most recent piece for Random Dance was Dyad 1909, created at Sadler’s as part of the In the Spirit of Diaghilev centenary celebrations of the Ballets Russes, alongside Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell maliphant and Javier de Frutos.
In 2006 Wayne McGregor was named resident choreographer of The Royal Ballet. It was an exceptional appointment, first because the position had been empty for 16 years s, and secondly because he came from modern dance – a rank outsider. For the Royal Ballet, he has choreographed the ballets Chroma (2006) – which will be presented in fall 2010 by The National Ballet of Canada –, Infra (2008) and Limen (2009). Infra received a South Bank Award, as well as the prestigious Benois de la Danse and a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for best classical choreography.
In parallel with his work for his own company and for the Royal Ballet, McGregor has also choreographed for the San Francisco
Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theatre and the Ballet de l’Opéra national in Paris. His work for the latter can be seen in the excellent documentary La Danse (2009) by Frederick Wiseman. During the 2010-2011 season, he will be collaborating with both the Bolshoi and the New York City Ballet.
A prolific artist, McGregor has also directed operas and theatre plays for the National Theatre, the Playhouse Theatre West End, Royal Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera and La Scala. He choreographed and directed the musical comedy Kirikou et Karaba (2007) at the Casino de Paris. He was movement director for the film Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and has created site-specific installations for the Saatchi Gallery and the Centre Pompidou.
His work has garnered several awards, including an Arts Foundation Fellowship in 1998, two Time Out Awards for outstanding achievement, and a Critic’s Circle Award for choreography (2006 and 2007). In 2008 he was appointed the UK government’s first Youth Dance Champion.
Concept and Direction Wayne McGregor. Choreography Wayne McGregor in collaboration with the dancers. Dancers Catarina Carvalho, Agnès López Rio, Paolo Mangiola, Daniela Neugebauer, Anna Nowak, Davide Di Pretoro, Antoine Vereecken, Alexander Whitley, Jessica Wright. Rehearsal Director Odette Hughes. Lighting Design Lucy Carter. Digital Video Design Ravi Deepres. Set and Costume Design Patrick Burnier. Technical Director Christopher Charles. Technical Manager Colin Everitt. Production Electrician Michael Smith. Original Music 1 Joby Talbot. Original Music 2 Jon Hopkins. To see exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from Wayne McGregor's rehearsal room or download an AUDIO PROGRAMME to ENTITY go to www.randomdance.org
Entity is co-commissioned by Het Muziektheater, (Amsterdam); Sadler’s Wells, (London); Biennale de la Danse (Lyon); DanceEast (Ipswich) and Swindon Dance / Bath University ICIA / Wyvern (HST) (Swindon/Bath) and supported by The Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design, The Estate of Sir John Drummond, The Quercus Trust, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, University of California San Diego and PRSFoundation for new music. Wayne McGregor / Random Dance is supported by Arts Council England, and is Resident Company of Sadler’s Wells, London and Associate Company of DanceEast, Suffolk .Wayne McGregor is the Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden.
Additional information – if required
Wayne McGregor / Random Dance. Board of Directors Dr. Joanne Butterworth - Chair, Sean Egan, Uzma Hameed, Sarah Seddon Jenner, Caroline Miller, Tobias Round. Wayne McGregor / Random Dance Company Artistic Director Wayne McGregor, Executive Producer Rebecca Marshall. Administrative Director Hazel Singleton. Associate Director Odette Hughes. Technical Director Christopher Charles. Co-Director Creative Learning Jasmine Wilson. Co-Director Creative Learning Kerry Nicholls. Communications Manager Nicola Christie. Development Manager Jen McLachlan. R-Research Advisor Dr Philip Barnard. Company Administrator Jess Sayers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. www.randomdance.org. For North American performances, please credit Cathy Pruzan, North American Artist Representative, 4709 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920 USA, 415-789-5051 (p), 415-789-5055 (f). email@example.com. www.cathypruzan.com
Photos © Ravi Deepres.
60 minutes – no intermission