Students step up for trailblazing performance workshop

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Students enjoyed the opportunity to experience trailblazing innovations in performance created by an award-winning choreographer, director and University honorary graduate with one of the world’s most familiar names in technology.

The Wayne McGregor company photographed by Andrej Uspenski
The Wayne McGregor company photographed by Andrej Uspenski

Dance and Performing Arts degree students enjoyed an “amazing” and “exciting” state-of-the-art workshop with Studio Wayne McGregor in May.

The workshop was live-streamed to the University studios at the Creative Campus Kingsway where students learned repertory from the company’s newest work, Living Archive, and explored the Artificial Intelligence choreographic tools developed by Wayne with Google.

Google Arts & Culture Lab collaborated with Wayne to turn his archive into the creative tool, Living Archive, using machine learning to map almost half a million moments of movement from his 25-year archive, and organise them by visual similarity.

Now, anyone, anywhere, can take inspiration from Wayne’s body of work, choose a selection of poses and connect them together to create their own piece of choreography.

Wayne is a multi-award winning British choreographer and director, internationally renowned for curating innovations in performance and the modern dance era by incorporating dance, scientific disciplines and technological interventions.

His work and repertoire spans across the world and has been performed by Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Bayerisches Staatsballett Munich, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and many more.

In 2019 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Chester and he has been taught by Dr Evelyn Jamieson, Head of MA Dance and Drama at the University.

Wayne’s work has earned him a multitude of awards including four Critics’ Circle Awards, two Time Out Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, two Olivier Awards, a prix Benois de la Danse and two Golden Mask awards. In 2011 Wayne was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance and in 2021 was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Prix de Lausanne.

Here students describe what it was like to work with Studio Wayne McGregor and Living Archive:

“The Wayne McGregor workshop was a very useful and entertaining way to expand our dance fluency as students. Personally, I really enjoyed being taught by a company member who specifically works with contemporary practice, which is the style we are learning at the University.

“It was fun to challenge ourselves and learn a choreography that was created by an online tool instead of a human being. In my judgement, this helped us put into our bodies movements that we would hardly ever think of. The whole workshop was very exciting and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to get to know the Wayne McGregor company a lot better through this workshop.”

First year BA Dance student Danai Charalampidou

“I loved the workshop with studio Wayne McGregor. I found it challenging but so much fun. It gave me ideas of different methods to use when starting to create my own choreography.”

First year BA Dance student Liv Leah

“It was extremely interesting, having researched the Artificial Intelligence tool through my own studies, to then interact and create from it, and connect all of the theoretical side to the practical elements – which was very valuable to myself as a research dance artist.

“Experiencing the work and creations of Wayne was an amazing opportunity that I feel very grateful to have been a part of. It has sparked many enquiries within my research and I want to thank the Wayne McGregor company for that and the University for providing us with this opportunity.”

MA Dance student Eli Williams

“It was such a treat to get to experience the company’s creative process, especially working with the Artificial Intelligence tool. Following the shapes on the screen and trying to interpret the structures into movement phrases was really challenging and also pushed me creatively. I felt pushed in the workshop both physically and mentally.”

BA Performing Arts and MA Dance graduate and Learning Facilitator Connor Elliman

“The Studio Wayne McGregor workshop was really great. I liked it very much because we were able to get a feel of what a company class at Studio Wayne McGregor would be like. I also liked the addition of learning repertoire from Living Archive.”

First year BA Dance student Nicole Froneman Gerber

“I really enjoyed the workshop – it was interesting to work with a new way of being creative and forming my own material. Learning some of the company’s repertory was also good as it helped me to see new ways that I could move in.”

First year BA Dance student Rachel Ambler