Atomos stretches the realms of contemporary dance

Atomos is coming to The New Theatre Royal
Atomos is coming to The New Theatre Royal
Sarah Earnshaw as Betty and Joe Pasquale as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do 'Av 'Em. Picture by Scott Rylander

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Atomising bodies, movement, film, sound and light into miniature shards of intense sensation, Atomos is a work by cutting-edge contemporary choreographer Wayne McGregor.

Known for his unique, tenacious questioning across the interface of art and science and through the body and mind, McGregor has remained at the forefront of contemporary arts for the past 20 years.

Ten incredible dancers perform McGregor’s unique style – sculptural, rigorous, jarring and hauntingly beautiful.

Louis McMiller who has been part of McGregor's company for more than seven years, was part of the original troupe to perform the piece when it debuted in 2013.

'I think we’re all committed to the work Wayne does, and because you get so involved and it’s so interesting, you do it for a long time. There’s still six of us from that original line-up in it.

'It’s pretty much the same piece as it was then, along the way we’ve had people leaving and joining, but we’re pretty much back to the path it’s taken. At first it was five boys and five girls, and now it’s six boys and four girls, so there are slight adaptations.'

The show doesn't have a narrative, and makes extensive use of multi-media – the audience is asked to wear 3D glasses for part of the performance.

'Wayne’s work is very abstract, there's no real narrative to it, but he uses a lot of things to stimulate the tasks we’re going to do. Atomos is a lot about scavenging and taking from something else.

'It does take a while to get used to. It’s a really specific way of working, and Wayne is very particular in the way he works, but that’s how he gets the results.

For me, with all of the collaborations, it make its more interesting and you’re finding things from all of these different resources, but once you get used to it that’s your normal.

Louis originally came from a ballet background. Did he find it hard adapting to Wayne's way of working?

'It was a big shock, but I was 19. Coming from a ballet school is one thing, and being young is another. I kind of had to learn everything from scratch, but Wayne took me under his wing and I learnt from the master, so I can’t complain about that!'

After seven years, though, he adds: 'It becomes like your second language. I think if I was ever to work for a dancer in another company, it would seem so slow. He works so fast. I obviously don’t know how he thinks exactly, but I know what he wants and what he doesn’t want. And how to make the thing right. There’s a little bit of mind-reading involved!

'I have no desire to work for anyone else, so I’ll be here as long as Wayne will have me.'

New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Friday, February 9