For more than a decade, Wayne McGregor has been performing fierce and thrilling experiments on ballet, taking it next-level with punk pecks and twitches, whip-lash spines, warp-speed leaps and hyper-stretched lines. As well as being The Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer, this wide-ranging creative has made movement for Radiohead and the Chemical Brothers, the Harry Potter movies and fashion designer Gareth Pugh. In his one-act worksChroma and Dyad 1929, McGregor strips back ballet and builds it anew.
Chroma, performed in architect John Pawson’s stark white box and driven by composer Joby Talbot’s take on songs by alt-rockers The White Stripes, places the dancers at the centre of a kinetic whirlwind. InDyad 1929 the dancers, sharply lit and set in a crisp background of black dots on white, seem to race Steve Reich’s full-tilt, Pulitzer-Prize-winning scoreDouble Sextet to the finish line.
Alice Topp, resident choreographer of The Australian Ballet, first worked with McGregor on the creation ofDyad 1929, and later performed in his Chroma and Infra. These experiences, she says, unlocked her confidence and creativity. “I’d spent years as one of 24 swans, trying to blend into a perfect line. Wayne freed me to find and believe in my own artistic voice – the greatest gift I’ve ever received.” Topp, who recently won acclaim for her Helpmann Award-winning workAurum at home and in New York, will continue her love affair with the music of Ludovico Einaudi and will team with long-time collaborator Jon Buswell to design the lighting and staging forLogos, a work about armouring ourselves against modern demons: “our predators, pressures, climate and, at times, ourselves.”
McGregor. Topp. Modern dance that turns it on.