Fusing an amalgamation of science and dance, Autobiography dips into the DNA of resident Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor to generate a unique anthology of performances.
In a production that centres around McGregor’s DNA analysis, Autobiography is shaped by the Genetics Clinic of the Future in the Netherlands who sequenced McGregor’s entire genome. The matchless and inventive choreography built around his whole genome sequencing allows the show to continuously transform the makeup of the production. Before each performance, a random algorithm creates the rules in which the structure of the show will take place, forcing the dancers, live musicians and designers to arrange the show in a new order for every performance.
The performances are constructed around McGregor’s genetic code, childhood, career and memories, with the sequencing centred around 23 sections of choreography that are fashioned by McGregor and his ten accompanying dancers. Knowing, Nature and Death all live within the world of Autobiography, but audiences may be surprised to find that a show shaped on the DNA of a dancer has little structure holding it together. Tethered by its titles, each performance name is placed on a screen above the stage, and the silent storytelling takes audiences on a spirited journey that moves its splintered performances at a crackling pace.
Set designer and projectionist, Ben Cullen Williams pins McGregor’s company against a pristine backdrop and floodlit stage, with a striking design that converts the Lowry set into a clinical open space. The structured chaos of its distinctive routines is playfully paired against the triangular white lights that lower onto its performers and sculpt new spaces alongside slashes of piercing projections that head outward into the crowd.
Venturing beyond the technology, the collated collection is rich in dramatic musical flair due to its boosted soundtrack by electronic musician and producer Jlin. The live score performed alongside the performances move the jarring sequences with an equally animated soundtrack that help the show push the boundaries of science and dance.
McGregor’ 80 minutes performance piece brings an advanced and technically exciting set that plays a collection of memorable visceral moments within its 23 sequences. As the show explores McGregor’s vulnerability, performances such as (Dis)equilibrium and Sleep offer captivating flashes of the companies stylish set and talented performers. Autobiography is a notably challenging production for its cast of dancers, and the distinctive show promises to offer audiences something new every time. However, its broken sequencing and harsher soundtrack will prove divisive to audiences looking for a firmer grasp of McGregor’s character.