Watch British choreographer Wayne McGregor's contemporary dance piece

Updated: 30 November, 2017 10:16 IST | Krutika Behrawala | Mumbai

Acclaimed British choreographer Wayne McGregor travels with his contemporary dance piece replete with anatomy-defying moves that match the dance of LED lights

A pin board of over 2,000 LED lights creates a psychedelic illusion as they blink in sync with an electronic rumbling sound that fills the stage. The lights also illuminate 10 dancers, men and women, who walk on to the stage wearing minimum clothing. As the soundtrack turns visceral and haunting, the dancers twist and contort their bodies to perform complex, sensual movements with a blink-and-you-miss-it sense of urgency, but never once missing the beat. As the lights turn red, they split up into pairs, and create a number of anatomy-defying formations. This 60-minute power-packed performance will greet you tonight at the Indian premiere of FAR, a contemporary dance piece directed by Wayne McGregor, presented in collaboration with the British Council.

The dancers belong to Studio Wayne McGregor, founded by the multiple award-winning British choreographer, who is known for his cutting-edge work in a career spanning over two decades, which also includes choreographing for films like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The age of reason
With its global premiere back in 2010, FAR's title is an abbreviation of Flesh in the Age of Reason, a book by Roy Porter, which explores the controversial Age of Enlightenment and the 18th century thought concerning the relationship between the mind and body. "However, you don't have to know about the book or the Age of Enlightenment to appreciate the piece. It's simply dancers performing incredible moves, something you have not seen before," McGregor says over the phone before his maiden trip to the city. He adds that over time, FAR has evolved due to the influx of new dancers, who've joined those that have been part of the performance since inception. "They interpret the music differently, and the physicality of the performance changes. However, the choreography doesn't. It's a collection of decisions that you make at one time, and I don't like to keep updating them. I'd rather make a new piece," says McGregor.

He roped in Australian composer Ben Frost, known for producing minimalist, experimental sounds, to score original music for the piece. "His music is physical and energetic, which excites your body. We worked on a parallel plane, creating music and dance sketches based on ideas from the book that appealed to us. We also spent a lot of time together in my studio, and the music and dance came together organically," he adds.

Wayne McGregor. Pic courtesy/Nick Mead
Wayne McGregor. Pic courtesy/Nick Mead

For your senses
The addition of visual art and technology makes the piece a multisensory experience. "The lights work on a series of algorithms. So, it looks like they're alive with the dance, and actually thinking for themselves." So, what's his take on the Indian contemporary dance scene? "While we have some amazing dancers such as Akram Khan in the UK, I would definitely like to see more contemporary dance performances by Indian artistes." On Saturday, the group will also conduct a workshop for dancers with over four years of experience at Future School of Performing Arts in Santacruz. They will share creative techniques that can be used in the dance form.

ON: Tonight, December 1, 7.30 pm
AT: NCPA, Nariman Point.
COST: Rs 300 onwards

Do a digital dance
Wayne McGregor was also invited to direct for Mix The Body, a digital dance experience in collaboration with Attakkalari Dance Company. Launched in September, the website invites you to choreograph an online contemporary dance piece by choosing a pair of dancers and creating different movements using gestures (like making a curve or circle with a cursor or hand depending on the device) to match with pre-loaded video clips. You can also add a musical score to the video. "The process of working with technology for dance was interesting," he adds.
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First Published: 30 November, 2017 10:10 IST

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