Everyone has had that one series or book that captivates their attention so much that the clock turns 2am before you know it. “Just one more episode… Just one more page…” That feeling of wanting more and being devastated when it ends is exactly my end result for Wayne McGregor’s tantalizing Autobiography.
Autobiography was a fusion of science and the human form, examining life through the body’s experience. McGregor created 23 sequences based on his own genome, and entailed personal memories, old writings, art and music in his choreography to translate his story. With collaborations involving award winning set design artist Ben Cullen Williams and avant-garde electronic musician Jlin, McGregor’s Autobiography came alive and enigmatic on stage, never having a moment taken for granted. One of the most titillating aspects of Autobiography is that McGregor uses a computer algorithm before each performance to determine the order of the 23 sequences, ensuring each show is unique and never repeated. Knowing this show would never be repeated to anyone else outside the Ahmanson Theatre had me sitting on the edge of my seat and grasped my attention every second.
The opening featured a misty stage with a male soloist. The music and his movement came from a deep guttural place setting an organic and mysterious atmosphere for the evening. With extreme virtuosity, the soloist remained grounded while his body moved as if something was bubbling up to the surface.
McGregor took us in and out of different worlds derived from his DNA, complimented with a constant moving geometric set by Williams. Pops of worlds that were playful with consistent swinging of weight weaved in and out of the sequence algorithm as performers moved through different levels with precise angles and rebound. Certain environments felt intangible because the dancers pushed the boundaries of the human body in unanticipated, fixating ways. Each sequence was heightened by the dynamic lighting design that unapologetically forced you to blink with blackouts and whiteouts.
Jlin’s composition throughout the whole performance was all-encompassing and voluminous with each sequence melding through classical excerpts, sounds of nature, high energy electronica, and deep pulsating beats. McGregor’s choreography and Jlin’s composition were a synergistic addition to the fusion of science and art that is Autobiography.
McGregor’s choreography was versatile in each sequence while maintaining his fluid, expansive physicality. Both male and female performers abilities were paralleled in technique and strength making Autobiography feel genderless to emphasize a community of living organisms without a distinct story. Each male duet was stunning and controlled as they paused in positions that seemed unreal and unpredictable. The performers also displayed an astounding power to fly across the floor while being grounded yet weightless. In groups, solos, or duets the performers morphed between a battle for individuality and symbiosis, all while taking moments to smile at each other adding another level of ingenuity.
McGregor highly succeeded with blending science and art through his own lens. It was mesmerizing, enrapturing, and addicting, so when the curtain finally closed my heart dropped. It was like the end of an enthralling series. Just one more page. Just one more episode. Just one more sequence.