ENTITY choreographed and directed by Wayne McGregor (Random Dance/World Stage). At the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). To March 3 at 8 pm. $45, seniors $36. 416-973-4000. See listing. Rating: NNNNN
Toronto audiences got a taste of U.K. choreographer Wayne McGregor's aesthetic last season, when the National Ballet of Canada presented the precise and architectural wonder called Chroma as part of a mixed program.
It was so successful it's been scheduled for an encore this summer.
Now McGregor's own company, the 10-member Random Dance, hits the Fleck Dance Theatre for a handful of performances of the brilliant Entity. If you're a lover of pure dance, watching bodies in motion, you won't want to miss this thrilling hour-long show, a highlight of the World Stage season.
The opening image is the projection of an old movie of a running greyhound, one of the scientific studies by Eadweard Muybridge (whom you might remember from Canadian Stage's Studies In Motion). That image, echoed again at the end, establishes the tone and content: rigorous and scientific, with an urgency and sense of purpose. This is a show with an unrelenting momentum.
Against a backdrop that's bare except for a narrow screen, the dancers, initially clad in white tank tops and black briefs, embark on a series of duets, solos and ensembles, where they seem to test the limits of human anatomy: spines and joints appear ultra flexible, limbs get extended to near impossible angles.
Occasionally, the performers seem to engage in skirmishes, hinting at petty resentments or power struggles as they try to establish their individuality in the group, but there's no discernible narrative. That doesn't mean there's a lack of emotional connection, however, as Lucy Carter's lighting and Patrick Burnier's set morph, and the string sounds by composer Joey Talbot bleed into the more cacophonous sounds of Coldplay collaborator Jon Hopkins, providing different contexts for the non-stop flow of movement.
There's a scientific feel to the human configurations. Are the dancers atoms bouncing around? Are they demonstrating some law of physics? McGregor and his video designer Ravi Deepres play with that idea by projecting a series of geometric shapes onto the floor.
But we never lose sight of the fact that we're watching humans - albeit magnificent specimens - as they pivot, turn and thrust themselves straight through to Entity's exciting, inevitable conclusion.