BWW Review: A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson Theatre

BWW Review:  A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson Theatre

It is very difficult to write a review on well-respected British choreographer Wayne McGregor's Autobiography. The reason is simple: I loved it but I didn't one hundred percent like it; it was great but it was also exhausting to watch.

I watched the show on October 5th, 2018 at the LA Music Center Ahmanson Theatre. Four weeks later, when I wrote this review, the images of the stage were still as vivid as the night that I watched. Four more weeks later, when I rewrote it, I still recall the vibrant dance moves, eye-catching stage installation and lighting. Like a cup of water drawn from a running river in the wild, the highlight of clear water stayed on the top, while the un-preferred sands sank to the bottom.

The artistic level of the whole show was undoubtedly high. It was experimental, electric, and futuristic.

When the curtain opened, 28 flat lighting panels were seen hanging above the stage, aligned in an array of four rows by seven columns. Traces of elements consistent with the order of classical ballet were often found - even if only subtle. In accordance with the story, they transformed the lighting arrangements to conical shapes, moved them higher or lower - in one specific scene, these lights were so low that the dancers maneuvered about them like they were performing a limbo through a dangerous amazon forest.

BWW Review:  A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson Theatre

The choreography was world-class level. Something I would put into the You-Must-See category. I always believe that it is more difficult to choreograph a good contemporary dance show than a ballet and modern dance, given the fact that the best contemporary dances are about connotation of the message. Technique is important but it is merely a supporting tool.

The whole package was well created: the music was wonderfully demanding, with a bit of Eastern religious elements from India and Thailand, but urgent, the lighting feature was at a contemporary art gallery level creating a sophisticated and futuristic atmosphere.

The world didn't exist any more, except for this invisible box on the stage, which was the show itself. The ten dancers' body movements were emotionless, yet the story was sensitive and emotional. Each performance featured the mesmerizing electronic score performed live by critically-acclaimed producer Jlin. The music was fascinating!

The story of Autobiography should be clear, a portrait of Wayne McGregor's personal story; However, the way he told the story was bold and risky. He fused science and the human form into a sequencing of its own genome, creating 23 unique and compelling sequences that unfold in different ways at each performance. He uses a computer algorithm to determine the selection and order of the 23 sections prior to each performance, ensuring audiences experience a performance that will never be repeated.

BWW Review:  A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson TheatreBWW Review:  A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson TheatreI loved everything about the verve and the stunning show except for the experimental sequences.

The natural logic when reading any autobiography is that you always want to complete the story from young to old, from the beginning to the current or end, no matter how the story is being told. The 23 sections were like 23 chapters of a book. In the form of dance, a unidirectional art, it is quite challenging for the audience to figure out the logical path while everyone is busy watching the dance itself. There is no time to digest, to think, or to study during the ninety minute show.

Plus, contemporary dance is abstract, and without a traceable story plot, it was impossible for the audience to keep up with the timeline of the story. The clearest moment or sign of a "this-could-be-an-exciting-ending-section" appeared at the sixty minute mark, when each dancer came out and gave a solo improvisation. In my mind, and to my body, the show dragged on for another thirty minutes after that. Without the last thirty minutes, it would probably have been an even more wonderful show. Exhaustion was the only thing that we could feel during the last thirty minutes. As a sad result, many audience members felt like they were beaten - having failed a difficult challenge of endurance.

Over all, Autobiography is an absolutely gorgeous piece of contemporary dance. It is cool and cutting-edge. The image echoes within your brain long after.

BWW Review:  A FUTURISTIC EXPERIMENT. AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY COMPANY WAYNE MCGREGOR  At The LA Music Center Ahmanson Theatre

It seems that Wayne McGregor is a great choreographer having no boundary between classical ballet and contemporary dance. As a resident choreographer in The Royal Ballet, and regular guest choreographer for international companies, including La Scala Theatre Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet among others, he has done significant large-scale engagement projects, such as the 2012 London Olympics and LightLens for the Aarhus European City of Culture in 2017. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 2011 for Services to Dance, and at the same time, his own dance company remains dedicated to contemporary dance.

I strongly believe that Wayne McGregor's trailblazing innovations in performance have radically redefined dance in the modern era, and will help mark his name in history as another master.

PHOTO CREDIT: STUDIO WAYNE MCGREGOR

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