Atomos by Wayne McGregor – Random Dance

Wayne McGregor returned to Italy with his latest cyber-creation for Random Dance, Atomos. The national premiere was staged at Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia – Review by Silvia Poletti

At his first appearance on the international stage, the England-born Wayne McGregor has immediately imposed himself for the haunting challenge of translating neurological and bioscience processes in a dance with incredible variations of load and speed, able to involve every muscle and ligament of the human body in a process of mysterious cybernetic reactions – always supported by consulting and collaboration with a pool of scientists and biotech experts. To run McGregor’s creative process at the top of the current choreography (thanks to institutional commissions for such companies as the Royal Ballet and the Paris Opera) was his dance-dance concept, with dynamic swirling, off balance, coordination between rough in the torso, arms, legs, and yet always a harbinger of a strange harmony. In fact, McGregor studied the “symphonic” technique of Limòn and today, thanks to the association with classical ballet dancers, the artist knows how to anchor it in bewitching scenic, thanks to the use of the excellent lighting design and music, which help to bring to life a true synesthetic experience .

All this we saw in Atomos, staged on nationl premiere at the Teatro Valli in Reggio Emilia, during the  Aperto festival. As the title suggests, this time McGregor applies to his idea of choreography modes and functions of the atom, with the potential of movement and aggregation implied, starting from the conglomerate in which arms and busts of the great dancers from Random Dance move sinuous, enveloping as microscopic fragments of cells from which the life spreads. The dancers get tangled, unfold, slip away, isolate and bunched seamless, alternating moments regulated almost like a Petipa ballet to the long sequences, open, instead, to improvisation, born on the same way as the virtual work of a cyber creature, arose from a new computer program called Becoming. The all scene is wrapped up in a sort of muffled cocoon, thanks to the techno sounds of A Winged Victory for The Sullen and the decisive lighting design by Lucy Carter. At a certain point, 3D glasses descend from above to show Ravi Deepres videos hosting nuclear explosions, primitive insects, factories and other details.

Everything is taken care of, well executed, lush creative and impressive. Yet there is a sense that McGregor has embarked himself on a road of no return along the path of a composition mode that has already been tried by Merce Cunningham (the one with old program Life Forms), and we perceive the risk that the compositional practice, in spite of its infinite virtual variables given by the enviable possibility of technological means, tends to regiment the talent of the author, making it more predictable and quite boring. We will see in the future.

Meanwhile, McGregor and his dancers are enjoying the admiration of the public, not only in theater but also in performances hosted at the Collezione Maramotti, where a special Random event took place. After Trisha Brown and Shen Wei, McGregor created some dance sequences – entitled Scavenger – in close symbiosis with the artworks exposed in the former Max Mara textile factory. Viewed at close range, after being exposed to the symbolic method of Becoming, the dancers evoke with their movements the artwork that each of them had chosen and “internalized” in their imagination, expressing the concept that underlies McGregor’s creation. The concern, however, persists, as if – quoting Wagner – has witnessed a series of intriguing “effects without causes.”

choreographer Wayne McGregor in collaboration with the dancers
design direction and scenes by Wayne Mc Gregor
music by A Winged Victory For The Sullen
lighting design by Lucy Carter
videos by Ravi Deepres
costumes XO Studio
interpreters Random Dance
Seen in Reggio Emilia, Teatro Municipale Valli, Aperto Festival, on 15th November 2013.
Next Italian tour: Teatro Ponchielli, Cremona; Teatro Verdi, Padova, on April 2014