Random Dance, Sadler’s Wells
Paradoxical as it might sound, ballet’s rebirth is happening thanks to (and within) modern and postmodern choreography. Over the past 20 years, classical dance, considered by many to be a dead art, has attracted the interest of many non-classical dance-makers. While some have successfully revised and reinterpreted the narratives of the classical repertoire, others have opted to tackle more directly the classical vocabulary, which remains a fertile and apparently inexhaustible source of inspiration and choreographic material. The British dance rebel Wayne McGregor belongs to the latter category, even though both his approach to and uses of the classical idiom differ greatly from those of William Forsythe — allegedly the first to challenge and revisit ballet’s vocabulary and syntax — and his numerous followers.
McGregor does not quote the principles of the classical techniques; neither does he develop his own distinctive vocabulary from an adaptation of ballet’s tenets. In his most recent choreography, ballet seems to be both a point of departure and a point of arrival for many of its splendidly non-balletically conceived choreographic phrases. Indeed, such a treatment of classical dance was one of the winning ingredients of Chroma, the mesmerising 2006 creation for the Royal Ballet — for which he is now resident choreographer.
In Entity, his newest creation for Random Dance, presented at Sadler’s Wells last week, the utilisation of classical canons is even more evident, though never in an intrusive, trite way. So is what could be referred to as the ‘cyclical’ structuring of his dance phrases, which begin at a classical starting point and conclude with another classical pose.