The themes of pop and fashion fuse in Wayne McGregor’s latest ballet, Carbon Life, in what promises to be a first for the Royal Opera House in London. Always one to push the boundaries of dance, McGregor is known for his left-field collaborations; in the case of this new work, he teams up with music producer Mark Ronson, singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt and fashion designer Gareth Pugh.
Ronson, best known for producing Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black album, has written nine love songs that explore Jungian notions of the masculine and feminine. Together with Wyatt, guest performers – including Alison Mosshart of The Kills and Jonathan Pierce of indie band The Drums – will sing and rap onstage alongside the dancers. “The songs are edgy and expressive,” says McGregor. “It will be like a pop concert on stage.”
Cutting-edge British designer Pugh has a long association with performance art. He started at 14 as a costume designer for English National Youth Theatre, and has recently dressed Lady Gaga and Kylie Minogue on her Showgirl tours. Famous for his avant-garde, sculptural clothes, he comes to Covent Garden fresh from the Paris fashion shows.
In London, audiences have learnt to expect dazzling contemporary ballets from McGregor, the Royal Ballet’s resident choreographer. His trademark is dynamic, sharp, sinuous movement that stretches dancers to their utmost, often set against vivid imagery and mesmeric scores. For Carbon Life, McGregor has picked 18 dancers, including the cream of the Royal Ballet’s talent – Steven McRae, Edward Watson, Marianela Núñez, Sarah Lamb and Lauren Cuthbertson.
Carbon Life shows in a triple bill with Liam Scarlett’s new work and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia (pictured: Limen from last October’s triple bill).