Wayne McGregor / Random Dance - Far
The choreographer discusses his latest work, Far, which is inspired by the Age of Enlightenment
While it’s true that behind every piece of dance lies hours of thought, few choreographers can lay claim to quite the mental heavy work of Wayne McGregor. In recent years, his exploration into the world of cognitive science has helped generate a large body of useful research – and produced some rather lovely dance along the way.
For McGregor and the scientists he works with, the connection between mind and body, and the impact it has on the creative process, has proved endlessly fascinating. With the results of their on-going study ploughed back into McGregor’s work, both at the Royal Ballet, where he has been Resident Choreographer since 2006, and with his own company Random Dance. The latest example of which is Far, a work for ten dancers inspired by the Age of Enlightenment, which took place across 18th century Europe.
‘One of the things that struck me most about the Age of Enlightenment is this sense of the body coming under question,’ says McGregor. ‘It was the first time that dissections took place and we started to understand the anatomy of the human body. The layers were being unpeeled, and that’s very analogous with the work we’ve been doing with cognitive scientists, understanding the relationship between body and mind.’
As well as Far’s scientific in-put (which is very much behind the scenes), McGregor has also collaborated with Australian electronic composer Ben Frost for the score, and designer Lucy Carter to create an atmospheric backdrop of lights.
‘Instead of poking directly into your eyes, the lights point sideways and cast shadows,’ explains McGregor. ‘And we can write text and numbers into the shadows. It’s brilliantly beautiful and very much in the spirit of that time, because they were still using firelight during the Age of Enlightenment, and there’s something about shadow and how light moves that felt very important about that period. So we wanted to try and create that in a digital way.’
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 4 & Wed 5 Oct.