Wayne McGregor: interview

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As Wayne McGregor returns to Sadler‘s Wells with ’Entity‘, he tells Time Out his vision for the future of dance

  • Wayne McGregor: interview

    'Entity' comes in two contrasting parts wrapped up as one (© Ravi Deepres)

  • Both smart beyond us normal mortals and also seriously bald, Wayne McGregor is, in every sense of the word, an egghead. He can motor-mouth his way through neurophysics or describe how he and a university in California are attempting to invent a computer that is going to be able to choreograph with a logic that will counter his own instinctive bent, to say nothing of the importance of Fibonacci numbers or many other arcane ideas. But, he insists, audiences don’t need to recognise any of that on the stage.

    His latest creation, ‘Entity’, is having its premiere at Sadler’s Wells this week. It’s for a cast of ten, only two of whom have danced with him before. ‘Yes,’ he says, as he slumps into a plastic chair in a bare room next to the top-floor studio at the Jerwood Space, just south of Tate Modern. ‘They’re new and they’re wonderful. We had 800 people sending in their CVs and I ended up auditioning 300.’ That’s not surprising; McGregor is currently one of the hottest dance properties on the globe with a schedule chock-a-block to 2012 and beyond.

    Since his last work for his own company, Random Dance, he has created an international touring show for kids. Based on African myth, ‘Kirkou & Karaba’ ran for many months in Paris, and will soon be seen in Beijing and many another locale. He’s also staged a work for San Francisco Ballet and created an hour-long piece for the Paris Opera Ballet. Both companies have already invited him back. On top of this, McGregor has been appointed the Royal Ballet’s first resident choreographer in virtually two decades.

    ‘Everyone is always telling me that I must be exhausted,’ he says, ‘but I’ve learned how to use my time well and that includes holidays to recharge. I always try to give myself big chunks of time to think about what the next project is going to be. I enjoy my work too much to force-feed myself with pressure.’

    A couple of years back he built himself an arts enclave on the idyllic island of Lamu just off the coast of Kenya, and it is not just for himself. McGregor wants to share it with the dance world at large. There really is something utterly generous and life-affirming about him, both as a
    person and an artist.

    McGregor, who turned 38 last month, is totally focused. ‘If you put yourself in a place where you’re having to work at understanding something then you keep yourself awake to all possible choices. How the body will look like in the future, the ethics of the body: those are questions that really fascinate me. Let’s get the dialogue going. Choreography and creativity – it’s my matrix, let’s see where we can move.’

    Random Dance in ‘Entity’ is at Sadler’s Wells Apr 9-12.

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