“Astonishing” Wayne McGregor Random Dance : Atomos

“stunning components…cutting-edge design”

Posing questions of existence and bringing together science and art, Random Dance physicalises atoms and their infinite structures. Wayne McGregor choreographed Atomos in 2013 and it returns to Sadler’s Wells as astonishing as ever.

This production of stunning components utilises cutting-edge design, including a set that makes use of 3D technology by filmmaker Ravi Deepres.

Morphing images on screens that descend from the ceiling transforms the stage into an interactive world, displaying how atoms form the general make up of everything that we live and breathe. A sun rises over a cityscape, possibly representing the continuous cycle of life.

Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres
Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres

McGregor’s work can be compared to the basic formation of an atom, his dancers being central to the piece, or the nucleus of an atom. You then have the electromagnetic force of the live soundscore from duo Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran, also known as A Winged Victory for the Sullen, which commands a hypnotic ambience.

This force brings together the electrons and protons that layer on top of the nucleus, or in this analogy the lighting, costume and already mentioned set design.

Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres
Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres

In front of you can be seen a piece of science in itself that could be used as an educational resource and with the never-ending debate of the arts in education, I would highly recommend that politicians watch this work before slashing yet more funding.

Lucy Carter’s lighting patterns creates warmth and adds colourful shading to the dancers’ movement. The dancers were certainly not coy with their aesthetically pleasing performances, bounding through the air and being lifted with rippling lines. Amalgamating sequences and use of canon frames the illusion that the company are multiplying, similar to Deepres’s animations on the TVs.

Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres
Atomos : Photo by Ravi Deepres

Amongst the intricately crafted choreography were bursts of dubious fillers that could have been done without, such as the odd leap across the space and extension of the leg past the ear. But, this is of course magnificently McGregoresque and his subtle references towards classicism. Like Merce Cunningham, McGregor manages to dehumanise and immortalise his dancers at the same time. They appear as strong as each other, collectively delivering a resounding awe to how they master their bodies.

McGregor is an exemplary choreographer in British contemporary dance and his multi-disciplinary approach to constructing work paves the way for the future of this dance genre, with other artists needing to take heed.

Atomos sees all aspects of the piece working together, forging a synergy of beauty and communicating a compelling mystery of science and nature.

Reviewed at Sadler’s Wells, 13 February 2015

by Nick Kyprianou