Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance company – “Entity” – Sadler’s Wells


I admit it: I’m stumped. I did not get this performance at all. Worse, the people I brought with me apparently DID. Quote: “It’s a show best appreciated by bisexual math geeks.” I will attempt to explain what this means, but for non-math geeks I recommend buying the program – which I did not do – in hopes of clarification. The Sadler’s Wells website unfortunately doesn’t help. After my take on the show, I’ll include their take (in my inadequate words), to hopefully present both sides.

I have been convinced Wayne McGregor is a genius since I saw “Chroma” – and if he’s managed to get a friend of mine to like modern dance, via a piece I did not get at all – then there’s really got to be something to the man – and to the show. I went specifically because I wanted to see what he was up to as a choreographer, and this was the first offering I was aware of since “Chroma.”

And I think I still do think highly of him, but I wasn’t getting any of the “whole new language of dance” impression I took away from “Chroma.” (Maybe that was just a new language for ballet, and with the freedom of modern dance he wasn’t obliged to create new vocabularies and conjunctions, or ones that seemed so new.) What I saw were bodies in motion in a series of about 12 scenes performed in front of three curved baffles, which at various times were raised, projected on, and/or left dark. The dancers were a gorgeous company of ten or so of a mysterious yet very fine pedigree; limber athletes well served by their t-shirt/black boy short costumes. What I saw read to me like about half a show of sexual aggression, frequently played out man on man (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man stand with his hips thrust against another man’s ass in a mainstage dance work), but also man/men on women. Some of their walking movements looked like bizarre animation – images tickling at my memory somehow. Why was it so familiar to me?

Later the shirts came off both genders (women with bras still) and the pace slowed down; the video projections kicked in and there were scenes of snow that (God help me) made the prone female dancers looking like baby seals on ice floes. This switched to a light projection on the floor that looked like a Mondrian painting in outline; then later there were some geometric outlines that the dancers played with a little, but they did not mean anything to me and I was unable to put a pattern to the dancers’ movements. It was just chaos, chaos, chaos, finally getting to section where seeing five dancers performing in unison was a bit of a shock after so much profoundly individual movement, and then it was over. Wah. I tried the entire hour to put some kind of sense to what was going on and utterly failed; the comments I wrote never were anything more than the basest of descriptions.

My companions, meanwhile, saw the thing as a series of mathematical and other jokes. The green projection they saw as the color of an old computer terminal; the Mondrian light projection was about the creation of squares (???) and the movement of the dancers reflected …. something about that (I didn’t understand, something about moving from one square to another); the audio at one point was a joke on the old BBC computers (???) and the background screens were the wings of the Angel of the North. And also the other projections on the floor made sense to them – one of a circle and a square was likened to the DaVinci proportions drawing. Jason was amazed by the lighting design. But I didn’t see any of what they noticed. (Wechsler has tried to explain it to me here, so do read his take on it and see if it makes more sense to you than what I just said.)

At any rate, I think this was a challenging bit of dance done by a top-notch group of artist/athletes with some really great music, and if you like modern dance, you’d probably do yourself a favor by going. There are half priced tickets available through an offer that was in the Metro (I think you need to say something like “Metro offer” when you call) but even the full priced tickets weren’t all that much. One more night to make up your mind …

(This review was for a performance on Friday, April 11th, 2008.)

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2 Responses to “Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance company – “Entity” – Sadler’s Wells”

  1. Wayne McGregor’s Entity « FLAILBOX Says:

    […] what a shame that Entity was a total let down in its shadow. Or was it? As Webcowgirl says, other people thought it was genius. One of my non-dance friends was gripped by it, for the […]

  2. cinzia Says:

    ho visto per la prima voltail lavoro di macgregor a venezia, pochi giorni fa. Entity è uno spettacolo in cui la belleza del corpo sembra arrivare al culmine della sua massima espressione. è di una estenuante perfezione. gli incastri nei passaggi dai soli ai duetti o trii o quartetti t lasciano senza respiro fino al termine dello spettacolo. mi piacerebbe sapere qual’è il suo processo creativo, di quali strumenti compositivi si avvale per risolvere e compiere una sua piece. A cosa è finalizzato il suo lavoro?

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