CULTURE

‘Technology’ of the human body explored through dance

British choreographer Wayne McGregor, an up-and-coming star not just in the UK but also on the international dance scene, will visit Greece for the first time to present his new work, «Ataxia,» which explores the state between total control and absolute collapse. His troupe, the Random Dance Company, will be at the Arts Center of Halandri Friday to Sunday. What is the story behind «Ataxia?» As a modern choreographer, I was always fascinated by the «technology» of the human body. My curiosity about human abilities led me to collaborations with a team of scientists, who changed the way I think about my work. We often describe dance as a non-verbal way of communication, but a great part of my job, both inside and outside the studio, is based on words. I started wondering how a group of people could work together without speaking… I attended a series of meetings with neurologists, psychologists and researchers of the human brain, to discuss this. Is it possible to communicate «neurologically?» Could the brains of different people become connected and work together without exchanging one word? I was interested in breaking up the natural relationship between the brain and the body. We conducted some experiments. One of them was to have somebody try to do two things at once, like dancing while counting backward from 400 skipping three numbers at a time… The person’s ability to dance was weakened and that reflected what is described as «ataxia,» where the brain can only concentrate on one activity at a time. In that case, it is very difficult for somebody to walk and then turn right away, for instance. What surprised me was how fascinated the scientists were with all these ideas. It was very refreshing. Research on the production made me change my process of choreographing. Most of all, it made me ask new questions about this form of art that I love so much. How does technology affect your choreographic work? New media, scientists and technology can create new ways to see the world. Personally, they help me discover new bits of information which challenge my perception of time, body and space. How do you choreograph? There is no pattern. It depends on the topic, finding a language that can describe it and the ways to structure it. Each piece is approached differently. In your opinion, what are ideal dancers like? They are independent, restless, open-minded, quick and have a good technique. Are educational dance and dance as part of the community an important part of your work? Dance is necessary for the evolution of a critically minded audience and for the work itself. It is also necessary to inspire others to seek the passion that all of us, who are involved with dance, feel. Would you create a performance for people with special needs, with old people or with children? I have done many pieces with people of different ages dancing together, or with people of very different dancing abilities. That is what is exciting about dance. Everything is possible and everyone can dance. Experiments and research Wayne McGregor was born in 1970 and started dancing at age 15. He founded his own dance company in 1992 and, in the same year, was appointed choreographer at London’s The Place. His work includes Internet-related choreographies as well as research projects with the Neurology Department of Cambridge University. In the 1998 choreography «Sulphur 16,» Random’s dancers danced with digital figures and in «Aeon» (2000), digital landscapes transferred them to a different world. McGregor’s experiments earned him a series of distinctions: an Art Foundation scholarship in 1998, Time Out Awards for Outstanding Achievement in 2001 and 2003 and an Olivier award in 2004 for «2Human.» In 2002, Random became the resident dance group at Sadler’s Wells; McGregor celebrated his new home with «Nemesis,» where he added mechanical limbs to his dancers’s arms. McGregor has done choreographies for film and television.