If you love contemporary dance, and are looking for more than a performance on a stage, head across to Wellcome Collection for its latest exhibition on choreographing genius Wayne McGregor. Laboriously titled Thinking with the Body: Mind and Movement in the Work of Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, this exhibition explores the creative processes and tools McGregor and his dance company, Random Dance, use to rehearse and develop new work.
The exhibition is tucked away on the 5th floor of the Wellcome Collection building instead of the usual large ground floor galleries, currently closed for redevelopment. It features photographs, videos and installations with a special focus on the latest full-length work Atomos, which Wayne McGregor | Random Dance will perform at Sadler’s Wells in early October. The experience is therefore conceptual, and you might not see as much actual dance as you would expect on arrival. But if you do read, listen and give this exhibition the contemplation it deserves, you will walk away inspired by the interdisciplinary explorations McGregor and team delve into.
Wayne McGregor | Random Dance was founded in 1992. The group collaborate with artists and scientists to understand, demystify and map choreography. In 2008, these projects were brought together under the banner of R-Research, a group of individuals who share a common interest in how dance, technology and science intersect. This exhibition presents the results and analysis.
So what do we see? A timeline maps the artistic partners and influences of McGregor and his dancers. You can try out interactive cognitive exercises used by dancers, and an immersive sound installation by Ben Frost, used for McGregor’s production FAR (2010). Also on view is Becoming, choreographic software from McGregor that combines artificial intelligence and cognitive exercises. This displays as a human-scale 3D animation on a screen, used as an additional dancer to support McGregor’s dancers in the studio. A film of the dancers in 3-D glasses responding to Becoming helps explain this technology.
Sometimes, the technology and terminology is all a bit baffling, and we're left wishing for more of the actual dancing. But this is still a must-see if you enjoy the mixing point of technology and creativity. Associated events include Distributed Creativity (26 September), Wayne McGregor in Conversation (6 October) and the UK premier of a documentary on McGregor called Going Somewhere (20 October). All events and the exhibition (which runs until 27 October) are free. Click here for full listings and to book in advance.
Wayne McGregor | Random Dance perform the new full-length work Atomos at Sadler’s Wells from 9-12 October. Tickets are priced from £12 to £27 and can be booked here.
By Gillian Da Costa