Dancing your DNA

Entity; Wayne McGregor / Random Dance; Snape Maltings; November 21. So fantastic I wanted to swear! That was what Wayne McGregor's latest offering, Entity, left me feeling last weekend at Snape Maltings.

Entity; Wayne McGregor / Random Dance; Snape Maltings; November 21.

So fantastic I wanted to swear! That was what Wayne McGregor's latest offering, Entity, left me feeling last weekend at Snape Maltings. This was truly a 21st-century collaboration between choreographer, dancers, video-maker, lighting designer, costume makers, and, it turns out, scientists - the latter of whom influenced the making of this truly innovative, engaging, amazing work of art.

I sheepishly confess that having watched Michael Clarke's Mmm… at the Maltings a fortnight earlier, I feared this performance would not enthral me as much, as after all, how could anyone beat Clarke for such skill and originality? But how utterly wrong I was.

Far from losing my attention, I became more and more engrossed in the piece as it progressed, and in the end, didn't want it to stop! Ten dancers, with physiques to die for and not an ounce of fat between them, wore black pants and tight white T-shirts with DNA sequences scrawled across them. The music, a hybrid of classical by Joby Talbot, and electronica by Jon Hopkins, perfectly fitted the frenzied, lightening-fast choreography; at times all ten dancers were on stage together, moving completely differently to one another so you just didn't know who to watch, as they were all excellent.


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In one slower section, the men paired up and duetted together in what at times appeared graceful and sensuous, and at others seemed strained and conflicted - as if reflecting the tensions in relationships. The seemingly random (no pun intended) movements and creative way the bodies came together, interacted, entwined and then separated, seemed to me to represent cells in the body darting around, bumping in to each other and either joining up or repelling one another. Unusual movements of the hands and arms - like fish flapping frantically out of water - reminded me of sperm under a microscope, or, as was probably more accurate in this case, information jumping across synapses in the brain.

McGregor has always had a scientific mind, and for Entity he brought together neuroscientists, psychologists and brain researchers to discuss kinaesthetic intelligence, culminating in his exploration of the connection between brain and body. McGregor's other recent works have also explored this theme, and Entity went on to further his findings. Collaborating with digital video designer Ravi Deepres, whose work was projected onto three huge screens that created a stage within a stage, we saw what appeared to be close-ups of cells - blood, skin - and at other times mathematical equations such as the Fibonacci sequence amongst others. Shells and spirals were also prominent, illustrating the interconnectedness of nature with mathematics, and what looked like sacred geometric patterns were shone down onto the floor.

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The lighting was used to sculpt every muscle and movement of these strong, athletic bodies; legs lifted above heads as if no effort was even required, and dancers darted across the stage with speed and energy. Half way through, the DNA vests were discarded - the men now bare-chested and the women wearing black, racer-back tops - which led to faster-paced, more intense performances. Pumping, electro music reminiscent of The Chemical Brothers' Back With Another One of Those Block Rockin' Beats, made me want to stand up and dance. And stand up I did, at the end, to applaud this fantastic performance. Apart from a few minutes of aural pain during one of the string sections (I wanted to run into the pit and muffle the mics on the violins), this was an hour of pure dance pleasure. By far McGregor's best piece to date. Bl**dy marvellous!

Katy Evans

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