Atomos, Oxford Playhouse, Tue March 3rd - Wed March 4th 2015
Choreographed by Wayne McGregor for Random Dance, Atomos mixes dance with stunning lighting, sound and video.
Since 2000 Random Dance have worked with researchers investigating creativity in dance, and whilst scientific concepts underpin this piece, they by no means explain it. The movement did bring to mind the changing states of atoms in solids, liquids and gas, cell movement, synapses, chromosomes and more; and just as quickly as the dance mutated, the impressions and images renewed themselves.
Starting off huddled in a box of light and burgeoning from thereon in, the troupe of ten dancers morphed into clusters, divided into pairs or spun solo. There were some patterns and discreet yet recognisable phrases, but the movement was so fluid it felt quite impalpable, like trying to capture sand sifting through your fingers.
The contemporary feel to the sound and visual design complimented the movement, with sonorous neo-classical music and minimalist sports-wear style costumes. The strongest design element was the lighting; much of the dance was cross-lit creating a dynamic, sculpted effect on the dancers bodies.
Atomos is the first piece of dance I've been to for which I had to wear 3D glasses. I'm not that into 3D in film and the inclusion in this show didn't particularly win me over to its use in live performance. Large screens descended and hovered above the dancers and both vied for my attention, but the 3D was ultimately underwhelming. The combination of film and dance did a disservice to the quality of the two mediums, as they didn't talk to, or argue with, each other enough. Animation, screen media and projection can be used to great effect in movement pieces, but the impact here was minimal.
Although Atomos is robust piece of dance with a clearly talented team on and off-stage and interesting concepts behind the movement, it lacked somewhat in narrative and emotional bearing.