There is little that is random about Random Dance. This marvelous ensemble from England is deliberate in its action, intention and ability to completely enthrall.
That’s what this company did in “Entity,” a high-energy creation that sparked imaginings that were as fanciful as the dance itself. Created by Wayne McGregor, the company’s artistic director, and seen on Friday night at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the piece was born of nature but waded through science fiction territory. “Entity” exuded a primal, animalistic feel. But it always felt like it teetered on a new discovery. The combination was fascinating.
The music, created by Joby Talbot and Jon Hopkins, set the tone with its low, grounded hum that was layered with emotive and mesmerizing strings.
The set was minimal, but served the dance superbly. Movable frames of fabric doubled as walls that surrounded the nine dancers and video screens upon which natural contours gave way to typed calculations.
Program notes indicate that McGregor was inspired by recent scientific research on neurology and psychology. This was not elaborated upon. But that was hardly necessary as the dance was a study in fabulous physiology.
These are some of the best dancers that have ever stepped on the EMPAC stage. (Usually, a dancer or dancers facility is not a top consideration for EMPAC curators. A choreographer’s willingness to incorporate and experiment with technology ranks much higher.)
Obviously ballet trained, these dancers came with the entire package — extensions that boggle matched with centers of steel — that had these dancers moving in ways that were both twisted and beautiful.
McGregor introduced each dancer, one by one. With their backs arched in an exaggerated manner, pressing their chests upwards, and their arms and shoulders pinned behind them, they appeared like contorted ballet swans. They struck these poses, bobbing their heads and then fanning out their legs. Then they would drop the affect and simply strut off stage.
At first, the nine remained remote from each other. As “Entity” progressed, they paired up, but in ways that were discomforting. As they squeezed through a partner’s leg or rolled around on the floor, they struggled to be free, but were compelled to be entwined.
There were two centerpiece duets, however, that altered the tone. The more the couples were drawn to each other, the more fluid and lovely their movement. These duets were both calming and exhilarating for their rawness and impulsiveness.
In between, the screens lifted and were illuminated by what looked like magnified microbes, pieces of coral and sections of wood grain. These images of nature shifted to stark mathematical calculations. The correlation between nature and science was sealed, but what about the nature of the human relationship.
Certainly, the science behind the art in “Entity” is nonessential. What is essential, is “Entity” itself. Go see it.
Random Dance will repeat Wayne McGregor’s “Entity” at 8 tonight at EMPAC, 110 Eighth Street, Troy.