|Evan McKie and Tanya Howard in Wayne McGregor's Genus. (Photo: Aleksandar Antonijevic)|
Science and art perform an intriguing pas de deux in the work of Wayne McGregor, the British-born choreographer for whom dance provides a malleable framework for ongoing investigations into the mind-body relationship. Known for his angular and precisely articulated movement vocabulary, the 47-year-old trailblazer, who early on trained in modern dance in New York, has collaborated with cognitive scientists, cardiologists, polar explorers and robotics specialists to create visually exhilarating work.
His principal laboratory is his London-based Company Wayne McGregor (formerly Random Dance), which travels the world, disseminating McGregor's inquisitive and experimental approach to ballet and making him one of the world's most in-demand choreographers. His kinetic intelligence has brought him recognition from top academic institutions, including Cambridge, which in 2004 gave him a year-long residency as a research fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology, and Plymouth University, which in 2013 bestowed upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree. Appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2011, McGregor is also something of a hero among dancers.
News that he would be returning this season to the National Ballet of Canada to stage Genus, his 2007 meditation on the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin, had company members sharing their unadulterated glee through Facebook and Instagram during the rehearsal period earlier this winter. Dancers love McGregor because he offers them a brave new world of physical expression, combining extreme athleticism with lyricism, drama and emotional vulnerability. Weaned on 19th-century depictions of grace and elegance, they devour his dangerously off-kilter pieces whole.