Meaning in movement

Meaning in movement

He has often been called the 'brainbox' of British dance. His work inspires breathless reviews and he is everything you don't expect from a choreographer. A science geek, an innovative creator with big ideas, extreme moves and an adventurous spirit, Wayne McGregor is as prolific as he is innovative. The first resident choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Wayne not only has several hit contemporary productions to his credit, but also has set the pace in movies like Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, and music videos such as Radiohead's 'Lotus Flower'. He has been awarded a CBE by the British government in 2011.

Wayne was in India recently for a series of performances of his latest production 'FAR' that was received with much acclaim. In FAR, inspired by the 'Age of Enlightenment', 10 dancers explore what it means to examine 'a body in question' with an 18th-century sensibility. Set to a haunting score by acclaimed composer Ben Frost, FAR is a deep-end physical, searing production that forces you to think and reimagine.

Excerpts from an interview:

You have been given many names - an adventurist, an experimenter, a pioneer, a man who can link art, music, philosophy and science...what do you identify most with?

I don't categorise myself in any of those ways. I just find things that interest me and work with people who are intriguing; this could mean anything: technology, science or pure art. I do not restrict my dance to any particular field or subject. What drives me is a passion for a new conversation and that's why I like to be with people who want to invest time in that conversation.

What does movement mean to you?

Choreography, for me, is a process of physical thinking. It's a process where the dancers and myself are working together to be creative. That's what makes the performance very otherworldly, very extreme, very physical and very powerful. I encourage my dancers to come to me with an open mind and hijack the things that speak to them - only then will they have an experience worth striving for. Do you see how this can create immense possibilities?

Why are your works so multi-dimensional? Is it a natural state of being for you?

I think it must be. I find it very easy to work with people and multiple projects at the same time.

How different is it to choreograph for the stage and for other disciplines like the movies, opera, etc?

I have worked with the Harry Potter and the new Fantastic Beasts movies, and if you think about it, what matters is the body. It is our bodies that largely communicate our meanings and dance is simply an extension of our self (and its imports). Ultimately, the medium, be it theatre, movie or opera, doesn't matter. But I will certainly say this: what is exciting about dance in the movies is its reach. It touches a whole new section of the audience and people are responding by returning to see movies that feature dancing. This has personal resonance with me - I began dancing after watching John Travolta movies - it is this power of access that is stimulating as a choreographer.

What would you say is the essence of 'FAR'? How have you brought in the elements of the 'Age of Enlightenment' in the production?

FAR stands for Flesh in the Age of Reason - it's a book really about the Age of Enlightenment and the scientific and artistic discoveries of the time. Those were the days when human beings began to discover the powers of the body and the nature of the soul - it was the time we went beneath the skin as it were. I wanted to do a modern version of this journey and that is partly why we consulted neuro-scientists who helped us understand a whole new dimension of creativity. All this sounds very heavy but the actual performance is extremely physical - something our audience hasn't experienced before.

You have been lauded for linking science and art in your production 'Autobiography'. Can you take us deeper into your creative process here?

My work is focused not only on science but also on how it interacts with people. For me, it's mostly about people and how science transacts with them. The things I am interested in are partly about the body and the brain. Therefore, I go to people who have more intelligence than me in these areas. In that dialogue, often something thought-provoking occurs and gets incorporated into my creative process.

In a contemporary dance production, is physicality in the mind? How much of it is about the pure movement?

I just don't know why dance is thought of in a box. I don't think that there are any rules. In a way, it is about how you plug dance into the real world. Dance has all the ambiguity, potential and possibility of a painting; some say dance is abstract, but I feel it cannot truly be as it is a human being performing it. What it needs is, for you, the audience, to come with an open mind, let the performance wash over your 'self' and examine what emerges - what meaning your body creates from it.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry