The Ballets Russes were citizens of the world. Born in Paris, they performed in countless countries, propelled by a fast-beating Russian heart. It makes perfect sense, then, that Wayne McGregor’s Dyad diptych, honoring the Ballets Russes, premiered in two cities about as far away as cities can be: Melbourne and London.
Dyad 1909, which recently opened at Sadler’s Wells, was in some ways a more literal realisation of McGregor’s Antarctic preoccupations. Two dancers, dramatically muzzled in Swarovski Crystal masks, appeared alongside the fur-wrapped figure of an explorer. What unfolded was a dense and invigorating work, video, movement and music colluding to disarm and intoxicate. The lush and appropriately chilly score was composed and conducted by Icelandic prodigy Olafur Arnalds (snake-hipped, floppy haired, wearing a natty burnt-orange cardigan), who presided over a five-piece ensemble from his keyboard, occasionally unleashing a computerised vocals in the ‘Fitter, happier, more productive’ vein. Conjuring shifting icebergs, cracking glaciers and, occasionally, oblivion, the music was both beautiful and terrifying, the perfect accompaniment to the shape-shifting videos and the thrusting, seeking movements of the seven dancers from Random Dance.
In the Spirit of Diaghilev
A Sadler’s Wells Production
Photography Hugo Glendinning