For most college-graduated urbanites, the age of 22 was a time to kick back and wash away the memories of academic rigor with beer. For Wayne McGregor, the age of 22 was a time to start an internationally renowned dance company. In 1992 the young Brit, fresh off a stint at the Jose Limon School in New York, founded Random Dance in London, an ensemble that rose to prominence with breathtaking speed.
In the early '90s the world was set to explode into the Internet Age, an unprecedented era of technological innovation, and McGregor's fearless weavings of human movement and digital science struck a chord with audiences hungry for the Future. He was a pioneer in the now-common practice of projecting computer-generated images onto a stage with live performers, becoming so proficient in it he went on to teach classes on the subject at Britain's National Film and Television School. McGregor has broadcast pieces over the Internet (2000's Trilogy), linked simultaneous works in Berlin and Canada via satellite (1997's Aeon), and for a more recent dance, Nemesis, attached prosthetic limbs to his dancers' bodies, adding a discomforting robotic element to the evening's proceedings.
More than just a creator of technical gimmicky, however, McGregor's choreography explores the limits of the human body in a time dominated by machines. In the first section of Nemesis (shown at this weekend's performances, but stopping, sadly, before the mechanical arms come into play), the fluidity of classically trained dancers is painfully disrupted by some unknown energy current. Each individual movement becomes many movements as the characters fight their way through an endless stream of jagged twirls and leaps, seeking the effortless grace they've been deprived of.
McGregor himself will follow Nemesis with a rare solo performance that will also showcase his love for computer animation, digitalized insectile creatures swimming all around him as he moves through a minimalist light design. The evening will culminate with the full-company work Polar Sequences, in which McGregor's ongoing disjointed struggle endures a journey from luscious opera into blistering, cacophonic beats. This is beauty that will make you squirm.