Wayne McGregor's triple bill at the Royal Opera House celebrates his 10th year as Resident Choreographer of the Royal Ballet. His insatiable curiosity and driving creativity has brought challenge, change and occasionally controversy to the cornerstone of British ballet.
Against this backdrop the dancers seem to shrink, as if overwhelmed by the tide of images and shifting colours. In McGregor's Multiverse, our attention is pulled in different directions. We duck and dive between image, movement and sound, like dodging speeding juggernauts on a six lane highway. It is an engrossing experience. The movement pours out of the dancers in a relentless stream of consciousness. McGregor splices the vowels and consonant of ballet vocabulary with characteristic density and pace.
The stripped back aesthetic of Steve Reich's sound recording It's Gonna Rain and musical score Runner dovetails beautifully with McGregor's constant interruption of pattern and form. Both artists create with an extreme and fearless introspection, probing the guts of their respective disciplines.
McGregor describes himself as "evangelical" about creating dance that enables people to see the world differently. This new work certainly throws up a lot of issues: the fragmentation of political consensus, civil unrest and mass migration.
Alongside Multiverse McGregor revives Chroma and Carbon Life. To perform Chroma, the Royal Ballet welcomes guest artists from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in recognition of McGregor's international reach (the work entered AAADT's repertoire in 2013). It's an inspired idea, the dancers from both companies work seamlessly together in John Pawson's elegant and sparse set. They appear to turn their bodies inside out, their razor sharp limbs cut through the choreography with eye watering extensions. McGregor's movement language is like a mathematical equation, his algebraic signature is writ large across the dancers' bodies.
Music by Joby Talbot and Jack White is rich and vibrant with a filmic quality. I can hear explosions and car chases, helicopters and daredevil heros in Talbot's heady orchestration. First performed by the Royal Ballet in 2006, Chroma has not lost its dynamism or relevance. It is a piece of precision engineering, finely turned and well oiled.
Carbon Life draws the programme to a close. With music by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, and costumes by Garth Pugh, it is a roller coaster of sound and spectacle – a pulsating mix of pop and fashion.
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