Alien sensations

Random Dance Company | Greenwich Dance Agency, London
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The Independent Culture

Random Dance Company's The Trilogy Installation is a spectacular event that overturns my belief - formulated only days ago with Merce Cunningham's Biped at the Barbican - that digital technology has little to contribute to dance beyond dubious decoration. Comparisons might be invidious and, when involving Cunningham, sacrilegious, but for me, the effects of The Trilogy Installation are more ambitious, integrated and sophisticated than Biped's.

Random Dance Company's The Trilogy Installation is a spectacular event that overturns my belief - formulated only days ago with Merce Cunningham's Biped at the Barbican - that digital technology has little to contribute to dance beyond dubious decoration. Comparisons might be invidious and, when involving Cunningham, sacrilegious, but for me, the effects of The Trilogy Installation are more ambitious, integrated and sophisticated than Biped's.

Created out of extracts from three works by Random's Wayne McGregor - The Millennarium (1997), Sulphur 16 (1998), Aeon (2000) - this 70-minute piece, presented for Dance Umbrella, is at once dance, computer-generated imagery, sound and illusion, (transporting you into an unsettling world that is light-years from all that is familiar).

The Greenwich Dance Agency's auditorium was transformed, spectators facing a series of gauze screens, each lifting successively as the piece progressed. At the beginning, the front screen refracted a moving architecture that took us down an endless corridor until we rocketed into a great black void to enter the dance environment of the stage below.

At the end of the evening, the back wall was a swirling, pulsating amoeba that seemed to suck the dancers back into itself, as if they had returned to their molecular matrix.

Waves of electric sound were provided by zoviet*france, made so materially physical it might be inside you. Or later, in contrast, the Baroque viola da gamba music of Marin Marais played in a perpetuum mobile echoed by the choreography. Bars of light travelled across the floor, or replicated the dancers with their virtual counterparts, the two mixing in shifting clusters and lines.

The real dancers looped expansive curves and slashed long, sloping lines, spanning space in a hyperactive continuum. Bodies seem to fracture into a hundred inhuman segments, but equally, the shapes have a wonderful dancerly clarity and beauty.

This is drastic, outlandish classicism, performed by superb dancers who might be a human species evolved as a futuristic offshoot. Dressed in Ben Maher's flattering costumes, they are almost too glossily perfect to be any more real than the projected dancers mixed among them.

Enter their world and you enter into the haunting confusion of alien and exquisite sensations.

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