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Random Dance - photo: Ravi Deepres

Random Dance – 'AtaXia'

Random sings the body electric

by Julia Skene-Wenzel

June 3, 2004 – Sadler's Wells, London

Neon lights are flashing, limbs are cutting through space and moments of suspension are broken, by outbursts of flickering movements -- two bodies open the stage for “AtaXia”.

Deriving from the Greek word a taxis, meaning without order or in-co-ordination, it also refers to a medical dysfunction of muscular response. Following a six month research fellowship with the Cambridge University, Wayne McGregor and his company have explored the relationship between the brain and behaviour in dancers. Cognitive psychology and neuroscience have allowed McGregor to create a new language by examining the implications of states of dislocation and loss of control.

The result is a daring piece of choreography that challenges the highly skilled dance body, allowing chaos and disorder to interrupt sophisticated movement in mid-flow. Spiralling and propelling his dancers across the stage, McGregor is not holding back. From the opening scene to its final moment, patterns are shifting and changing, solos contest duets, duets are swept away by group sections and all are mounting into a physical and emotional marathon of relentless energy. Supported and confronted by Michael Gordon’s modernist score, formations and shapes are stretched, twisted and driven by an invisible force, pushing the ten dancers to their absolute limit.

Icebreaker’s delivery of ‘Trance’ is flawless and keeps the audience and the piece on a constant edge, while the collaboration of John Warwicker, Ursula Bombshell and Lucy Carter turns the stage into an out-of-world landscape -- colourful images of electric brainwaves are pulsing from mirrored walls, milky glass screens temporarily blur our perception and UV light allows bodies to disappear and illuminated shirts to dance. Combining neuroscience, virtual design, spatial architecture and computer programming, McGregor is following Random’s trademark of infusing dance with new technology; but by questioning, extending and pushing his movement vocabulary into new territories, he also defies its limitations.

”AtaXia” is overwhelming in its physicality and the eventual total exhaustion of the dancers underlines this spectacle with a painful reminder of reality. The beauty and significance of the design, together with the bold striving for new choreographic forms, elevate this piece to the cutting edge of today’s contemporary dance scene.

Edited by Jeff.

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