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  • Miles Hedley


World-famous choreographer Wayne McGregor has spent 25 years probing the mysteries of the human soul. His new work, Autobiography, takes a new turn and investigates the genetic make-up of our bodies and how that affects our psyches. The result is a work that challenges the limits of our understanding yet is never less than thrilling. Proof of that came at his company’s two performances of Autobiography at Laban Theatre. Both were sold out and both ended with some of the most sustained ovations I have ever witnessed. McGregor, who is a professor at Trinity Laban, set about creating the show by having his own genome sequenced. He then used the 23 pairs of chromosomes it revealed to inspire 23 chapters with headings such as avatar, memory, sleep, ageing and choosing. He also had the sequence converted into a computer algorithm to pick the order the chapters are performed in so that no two shows are the same. Far from wrecking the work’s natural rhythm, however, this uncertainty gave it a tremendous edginess which was brilliantly enhanced by Ben Cullen Williams’ minimalist set, Lucy Carter’s steely lighting and a score by Jlin that ranged from the baroque to industrial noise artists like Merzbow. But best of all were the dancers themselves. Rebecca Bassett-Graham, Jordan James Bridge, Travis Clauses-Knight, Louis McMiller, Daniela Neugebauer, Jacob O’Connell, James Pett, Fukiko Takase and Jessica Wright managed to combine eye-watering flexibility with heart-warming grace and heart-breaking emotion to give life and meaning to McGregor’s genetic code. They were extraordinary – just like the work they were interpreting.


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