A potent compound of contemporary collaborators rock the Royal Opera House.
Gareth Pugh x Wayne McGregor x The Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House.
Text by Michael Peter Johnson
A stellar line up: The Royal Ballet and musical cast of Carbon Life image by Bill Cooper
In Carbon Life like many of Wayne McGregor's works as asscoiate choroegrapher of the Royal Ballet, his choreography collides with a holy trinity of collaborators. Blending pop music from music producer Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, lighting by Lucy Carter and clothing by fashion designer Gareth Pugh, Carbon Life is a compound mixture of contemporary artistic visionaries. The outcome of such a highly charged team of collaborators is a ballet work that is both subversive and electrifying. Playing live across the back of the stage as figures in the set, nine tracks of pop music build to create a loud rock sound. Accompanied by Lucy Carter’s bold lighting; blood red and bottle green rays of light glows upon the dancers bare skin.
As an under layer, the dancers are styled in micro black pants and nude tops, as the work progresses occasional gothic Bauhaus shapes are strapped to the dancers limbs. Strutting out in spiky jet black pointe shoes, a male dancer morphs and bends into dynamic positions. Fashion designer, Gareth Pugh’s bold reinventions of the classical ballet dress also include obelisk fused headpieces and pyramid punk tutus.
In Carbon Life, Pugh’s trademark aesthetics of exaggeration, volume and form are fearlessly shown. Using black geometric shapes positioned on the lower legs and arms like turbo fins. Subverting the traditional ballet costumes into wearable sculptures, Pugh's designs challenge the dancer's bodies and create athletic cybermen like silhouettes.
No aspect of McGregor's creative process is treated secondary. Translated through every dancers move and emotions, his agile and sharp mind cuts and obliterates the usual codes of neoclassical choreographic conduct. With Carbon Life he and his collaborators literally rocked the institution. Not only smashing the mould of modern classical dance, he manages to reseal the obliterated pieces into a completely new pattern - provoking the viewer to see the infinite potential of human bodies in space and time. McGregor works across art forms which circulate in different spheres, when these artistic concepts (design, music, set and costume) overlap, his productions emit new shock waves. Long may this uber-modern tradition continue to challenge audiences. Rock on!
All images by Bill Cooper, courtesy of The Royal Ballet