Continuing his commitment to collaboration, Wayne McGregor’s +/- Human not only brings together dancers from his own company with artists of the Royal Ballet, but also includes newly commissioned electronic music from Warp Records and a ‘Zoological’ art installation by Random International. During the day visitors can explore this installation and interact with its flying spheres as they react intelligently to their surroundings and the bodies in their environment. Pop- up performances from a range of young artists responding to the themes of the work complement McGregor’s dance piece performed in the evening.
During the evening performances a coronet of bright blue spotlights make the roundhouse look like the underbelly of a landing space ship. As white spherical drones glide across the cavernous turret, fifteen dancers stride onto the stage dressed in black underwear; plus and minus signs etched across their chests and stomachs. Under the fluttering drones following their every move and from behind a velvet rope separating audience and performer, the dancers’ nakedness seems particularly vulnerable in the darkness.
Wayne McGregor’s use of dance to explore human interaction with technology follows in the footsteps of Bauhaus Ballet and the modernist fascination with the boundary between machines and the human body. Random International’s drones are programmed using complex algorithms and motion sensors so that they react to their surroundings; McGregor’s dance work functions as both a response to these humming, hovering machines and questions the human by exploring possible relations and interactions with the non-human.
Full of expansive arm movements and weighted moves, McGregor’s new work is suffused with an unusual sense of calm restraint. While elements of McGregor’s characteristic rippling, angular movement vocabulary remains it is the dancers’ slow, lithe extensions that are emphasised. Their lengthened lines gesture towards the infinite darkness surrounding the stage. At moments, their serene movements and liquid limbs resemble skating. As they dance, drone shadows loom across the floor of the stage. At one moment a drone falls to the floor and a dancer lifts it gently skywards.