For Wayne McGregor, the focus of dance is the body and its medium is movement. The choreographer has built a twenty-five-year career around the careful scrutiny of these concepts, taking residencies at Sadlers Wells and the Royal Ballet in the process. Often employing technological advances to mediate and disrupt bodily kinetics – such as the cyber-appendages of 2001’s ‘Nemesis’ or the cognitive science of 2004’s ‘AtaXia’ – McGregor’s latest project ‘Autobiography’ sees this scrutiny turned inwards.
Here McGregor interrogates the possibilities of performing a life. He takes his premise literally and conceptually, having had his genome sequenced and his genetic code then fed into an AI computer program which creates a series of dance movements responding to these strands of his makeup. What the audience sees onstage, then, is a physical manifestation of McGregor’s DNA split into over a dozen different sequences, each of which alters subtly for each performance. The piece is constantly changing as the body is.
The concept is typically high-brow and involved, yet what the audience witnesses is an 80-minute performance of tenderness, passion, and energy, all underpinned by Chicago-based footwork producer Jlin’s score.
The footwork genre, with its scattering polyrhythms and layers-upon-layers of electronic percussion, has its own eponymous dance characterised by sturdy torsos and lightning-fast feet, tilting the dancers to the edges of their balance just as the music constantly feels on the precipice of breaking apart. The academic Dhanveer Brar writes of how “footwork is the outcome of pressure created by the movement of dancers. What is heard in footwork is the force of dancers’ movements within the circle” and while in ‘Autobiography’ the dance is disrupted, the pressure of movement on music remains.
Read the rest of the review on Hyponik.
[This piece was published on 29/01/18]