The New Alexandra Theatre


The Birmingham International Dance Festival started its tenth celebration in roaring style. The city was so eager to kick things off that festivities started at 7 am with commuters and early birds treated to a dance in Centenary Square outside the council house.

The Birmingham International Dance festival is heading towards exciting times. The closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast this year handed over to Birmingham with a beautiful display.

It put the city on the world stage as it used the total magic and power of dance. As the start of the highly celebrated festival opened we can look forward to an exciting festival.

Wayne McGregor is a leading choreographer within contemporary dance and his wonderfully talented company showcased their piece Atomos.

It is a bold fusion of dance and technology which displays an innovative style, linking classical physicality with our growing digital world.

The concept is as exciting as it is thought provoking. The company do well not to give too much away, hinting at the unknown and making way for brave surprises.

The fusion between modern technology and classical dance is delicately linked within Atomos. Perhaps it is a comment on our relationship within the modern technology today. McGregor makes use of bold and bright strobe lighting to enhance the effect.

The dancers flow freely as one fluid company and yet we can the individual talent that each artist brings to the overall piece. Sometimes we are faced with bright and jarring sequences, illuminated by a white glow and at others, the lights are dimmed and movements are softer, amplifying the incredible artistry of the company.

The performance looks at our relationship between physical life and virtual reality with fantastic gems of technical visual effects.

The stage has subtle geometric shapes that blend into the jarring and clear cut choreography of the overall piece.

As the performance unfolds, we can see screens above the stage. They frequently show vivid colours and images in a 3D effect. Each sequence of dance takes a new theme and the imagery used on the screens reflect each change with heavy themes of technology, the environment and the natural world.

The experience of wearing 3D glasses allows our senses to enjoy the pulsating dancers in greater depth.

The incredibly strong and disciplined company display a classical and balletic style which makes for beautiful relationships during ensemble sequences as well as seeing fascinating individual moments.

They all have an effortless ability to take the classical style and make it stand alone. There are wonderful moments which showcase two or three dancers at a time and we are then treated to a fluid vision when the company come together.

They represent McGregor’s stunning vision with innovative ideas that link to the world around us.

The result is a beautiful interpretation with strong contemporary movement. The company are a force of nature and Atomos is a great way to start the Birmingham International Dance Festival.

Elizabeth Halpin


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