Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Sadler's Wells, London
Friday 19 November 2010
Wayne McGregor's dancers move as if they have a few more vertebrae than the rest of us. They are rarely relaxed or neutral. Backs arch, buttocks jut, shoulders hunch and wrists twist. For all the curlicues, they dance with attack and clarity, both mannered and highly articulate.
McGregor's new work, FAR, was inspired by the medical historian Roy Porter's Flesh in the Age of Reason. The choreographer has collaborated with neuroscientists to see how mind and body work together. In demand all over the world, McGregor created FAR for his own company, Random Dance.
The work opens with a stylised sense of the past. Four dancers bring on flaming torches; a couple dance to Vivaldi. The firelit duet is a polite version of McGregor's usual style. As the duet ends, Vivaldi is drowned out by Ben Frost's electronic score. More dancers appear; McGregor's experiments look like tests.
It is a collaborative work. The remarkable set, a flat panel with protruding light rods, was created by McGregor's rAndom International. Lit by Lucy Carter, it creates an amazing range of images and textures. Just as you recognise a pattern, it changes. McGregor may be playing with expectation, but he is also meandering. Frost's score cuts between fierce crunchings, static and rich layers of humming sound. Design and sound have more momentum than the dancing.
Some sequences stand out. Two men dance together. It's a surprise when one bursts into a star jump. Three dancers flop on top of each other and lie with wrists flapping. Is that the only part of the body that can still move?
FAR is a choppy experience. It's not just that it is episodic, with its changing moods. The pace lags, as if McGregor's attention had wandered between experiments.
Ends tomorrow (0844 412 4300); 'FAR' goes on a world tour in 2011
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