Wayne McGregor may just be the most interesting choreographer nowadays. Sure, you may have remarkable -and popular- dancemakers like Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon, but whenever I read an article or a review of one of his dances, I’m sure I will end up fascinated.
McGregor is an artist that has gained notoriety thanks to his curiosity and his willingness to collaborate with talented people from seemingly disparate fields like visual arts, avant-garde music, technology and science. His mind seems to be as restless as many of the dances he has come to create.
The British choreographer’s talent may have also come at a proper time. Dance in general, at least until a few years ago, seemed to be stalled. That excitement dancers used to bring in the sixties and the seventies seemed to be long gone. Dance historian Jennifer Homans was harshly criticized for ending Apollo’s Angels, her fundamental book on the history of ballet, with some sort of an obituary for the art form. And even when her opinion might seemed a little bit over-the-top for some people, she definitely had a point: dance needed a striking resuscitation.
McGregor’s audacity has set foot on the stage of prestigious companies like La Scala, Paris Opera, San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet and English National Ballet. He’s also the Artistic Director of his own ensemble, Wayne McGregor Random Dance, and the Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, for which recently created Woolf’s works, a full-length production inspired by Virginia Woolf’s writings and with music written by Max Richter -a composer with whom McGregor has already worked with.
His other exciting recent project is entitled Tree of Codes, based on the book written by Jonathan Safran Foer scheduled to premiere at Manchester’s International Festival. The music is composed by Jamie xx, one of the members of The xx and who’s about to release his first album as a solo artist. The equally interesting visual artist Olafur Eliasson is also involved in the production taking care of a series of impressive light-based designs.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, McGregor confessed he feels obliged to break the limits of traditional choreography: “I think it’s the responsibly of major lyric theatres to challenge audiences, otherwise you’re just making work that suits the current taste, you’re not making it possible for the language to evolve.”
Everytime I hear from McGregor, I just sense some sort of an outstanding zeitgeitst, represented by his eagerness to be surrounded by people who has left their mark on these times. He has worked, just to cite a few names, with established, outstanding and cult musicians like Thom Yorke, Mark Ronson and Ben Frost.
On this regard, this is what he had to say in a recent Q&A he did with the Guardian: “I just think there are so many brilliant people out there. I love being inspired and in a room with them to see what we might be able to do together.”
And for now, there’s plenty of fascinating things he has been able to accomplish. The thing is, and I’m just speaking from my intuition, the road that McGregor has set out to take is just beginning. We’ll just wait, impatient and eagerly, to what he has yet to bring to the stage.