Company Wayne McGregor

80 minutes

Concept and Direction
Wayne McGregor

Wayne McGregor in collaboration with the dancers


Set Design and Projection
Ben Cullen Williams

Lighting Design
Lucy Carter

Costume Design
Aitor Throup

Uzma Hameed

Originally danced by
Rebecca Bassett-Graham, Jordan James Bridge, Travis Clausen-Knight, Louis McMiller, Daniela Neugebauer, Jacob O’Connell, James Pett, Fukiko Takase, Po-Lin Tung, Jessica Wright

Premiere date and venue
4 October 2017, Sadler's Wells, London

“..our ability to read out the sequence of our own genome has the makings of a philosophical paradox. Can an intelligent being comprehend the instructions to make itself?”
– 'The Common Thread' John Sulston & Georgina Ferry

What does it mean to write your own life-story? For twenty-five years, Wayne McGregor has been making choreography that interrogates life through the experience of the body, moving intelligently in space and time. His practice has been far-reaching and sought out collaborators from a diverse range of artistic and scientific fields to investigate the nature of embodied cognition.

Now McGregor turns his attention to the body as archive, as he embarks on a cycle of choreographic portraits illuminated by the sequencing of his own genome. The first of these studies, Autobiography, is an abstract meditation on aspects of self, life, writing, refracting both remembered pasts and speculative futures.

Palimpsesting McGregor’s choreographic imprint over personal memoir and genetic code in a continuous re-imagining, Autobiography unfolds uniquely for each and every performance. Life, writing itself anew.

“ is impossible to understand organismal and cellular biology or evolution – or human pathology, behaviour, temperament, illness, race, and identity or fate – without first reckoning on the concept of the gene.”
– '
The Gene, An Intimate History' Siddhartha Mukherjee

For Autobiography, McGregor’s creative team includes set design by Hackney-based artist and designer Ben Cullen Williams whose clients include Calvin Klein, Erdem and The Serpentine Gallery. 

Music is by electronic musician Jlin, a former steel mill worker from Gary, Indiana, credited with bringing a unique sound to the Chicago-born footwork genre. She began producing music in 2008, and her track Erotic Heat featured on the 2011 Planet Mu compilation Bangs and Works Vol. 2. The song was later used to accompany a 2014 Rick Owens fashion show, and her debut album, Dark Energy, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. Her long-awaited second album was released in May 2017. 

Lighting is by long-standing collaborator and award-winning lighting designer Lucy Carter. She won the Knight of Illumination Award for Dance for Chroma (2008) and Woolf Works (2015), McGregor’s works for The Royal Ballet, where he serves as Resident Choreographer. Most recently Carter designed the lighting for McGregor’s immersive art installation and dance performances +/- Human at the Roundhouse. 

Costumes have been created by artist and designer Aitor Throup, renowned for his work exploring the human anatomy through rich conceptual narratives. His debut runway show in 2016 for his own clothing label New Object Research received critical acclaim for breaking the boundaries of the standard catwalk format featuring life-size articulated puppets instead of models. In addition to running his own multi-disciplinary design house A.T. Studio, Throup is the executive creative director of G-Star RAW.

Dramaturgy is by writer and director Uzma Hameed, who has previously collaborated with McGregor as dramaturg on Woolf Works, Obsidian Tear and Multiverse, all for the Royal Ballet. Autobiography is her first collaboration with Company Wayne McGregor.

Ongoing science partners: 
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, EMBL – European Bioinformatics Institute, Connecting Science – Wellcome Genome Campus Public Engagement, Wellcome Genome Campus Society of Ethics Research, University Medical Centre Utrecht.

Music by Jlin in partnership with Unsound.

Co-produced by Studio Wayne McGregor; Sadler’s Wells, London, UK; Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg; Edinburgh International Festival, UK; Festspielhaus St Pölten, Austria; Carolina Performing Arts at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; Movimentos Festwochen der Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Co-commissioned by West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong; Festival Diaghilev. P.S., St Petersburg, Russia; Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Guimarães, Portugal; Seattle Theatre Group, USA (music); Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London, UK.

Additional music
Written & performed by Hildur Gudnadottir 
Published by Touch Music/Fairwood Music UK Ltd.

"Aging" by Zelienople.
Performed by Matt Christensen (Guitar & vocals), Brian Harding (Bass clarinet & synth), & Mike Weis (Percussion)

"Concerto grosso Op.6 no1 in D major (II. Largo)"
Written by Arcangelo Corelli
Performed by Ensemble 415, Chiara Banchini & Jesper Christensen
Courtesy of Harmonia Mundi / [PIAS]

Written by: Carsten Nicolai, Ryuichi Sakamoto
© Edition Carsten Nicolai
With kind permission of Budde Music UK, KAB America Inc & Sony/ATV Music Publishing Limited

"Space 21 (petrichor)” 
Written and performed by Max Richter
Published by Mute Song Limited
Courtesy of Deutsche Gramophone GmbH.

"Guantanamo" by Jlin.
Appears courtesy of Planet Mu Records.
Composed by Jerrilynn Patton.

Images: Ben Cullen Williams, Richard Davies, Andrej Uspenski.

Autobiography returns to Sadler's Wells July 2018. Trailer by Ravi Deepres, Luke Unsworth and Sadler's Wells.

Autobiography, Company Wayne McGregor. Music by Jlin. Video by Ben Cullen Williams & Andrej Uspenski

Autobiography, music by Jlin, photography and video by Ben Cullen Williams

Wayne and Company Wayne McGregor in rehearsal for Autobiography. David Stock/Sam Wong/New Scientist