Wayne McGregor is an award-winning British choreographer who uses AI to expand the possibilities of human movement.
Wayne McGregor CBE is an award-winning British choreographer and director, whose innovations in performance have continually redefined dance for 25 years. Driven by a curiosity about movement and its creative potential, his experiments have led him into collaborative dialogue with an array of artistic forms, scientific disciplines, and technological interventions - including artificial intelligence.
Selected AI projects:
Living Archive is a world-first collaborative experiment between Studio Wayne McGregor and Google Arts and Culture Lab. Developed at the Lab in Paris, the AI tool generates original movement inspired by Wayne's 25-year archive, creating a live dialogue between dancers and his body of work.
By analyzing thousands of hours of his videos, the tool learned McGregor's style - from subtle nuances to intricate progressions. And his dancers are now collaborating with it in real-time to generate new movement.
McGregor explained: "I wanted to make use of this massive archive of work in an interesting way, so I asked Damien if he could use it to generate something new, It all goes down to the same question that is crucial in choreography: how do you keep creating fresh content?"
“One of the things that's run through all my practices been a relationship with technology,” McGregor continued. “I'm fascinated in how AI might actually develop the conversation around what is choreography? Who has to make choreography? What are the potentials of choreography?”
That's how he started to work with the Google Arts and Culture Lab, which brings together artists, curators, engineers and creative technologists to experiment the intersection of art and technology.
For McGregor, one of the most fascinating aspects of the technology is that it can learn and recreate the particular style of a dancer. Much like motion capture, it can go some way toward capturing their creative identity. “I choose certain dancers because of their physical signatures, because of the particular way they move,” he says. “The genius of this tool is that it captures something of that essence of performance.”
McGregor plans to use the tool in real-time for a future work, with each dancer having their own screen and reproducing on stage the sequences that the algorithm is delivering.
Born in 1970, Wayne McGregor CBE is a multi award winning British choreographer and director, internationally renowned for trailblazing innovations in performance that have radically redefined dance in the modern era.
In 1992 McGregor founded Random Dance, which has grown into Studio Wayne McGregor to encompass his extensive creative output in fields both beyond, and in dialogue with dance. Company Wayne McGregor, his ensemble of highly skilled dancers, was the original instrument through which McGregor evolved his distinctive visual style, revealing the movement possibilities of the body in ever more precise degrees of articulation. McGregor has made over thirty works for the company and today it continues to be his laboratory for ambitious and experimental new choreography, touring his work across the UK and around the world. Company Wayne McGregor is Resident Company at Sadler’s Wells, London.
Studio Wayne McGregor is the creative engine of McGregor’s life-long choreographic enquiry into thinking through and with the body. It encompasses his own touring company of dancers, Company Wayne McGregor; creative collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science; and highly specialized learning, engagement and research programmes. In March 2017 Studio Wayne McGregor moved into its own newly created studio space at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a shared space for making where the creative brains of the day can exchange knowledge and invent together.
Since 2006 McGregor has been Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet, the first choreographer from a contemporary dance background to be invited into the role. Here his productions are acclaimed for their daring reconfiguring of classical language. He has made 16 works for The Royal Ballet, from Chroma (2006) set to music by The White Stripes and Joby Talbot and winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production, to Woolf Works (2015), an "exhilarating and ravishingly expressive" (Guardian) full length ballet based on the life and writings of Virginia Woolf.
McGregor is regularly commissioned to make new work by and has works in the repertories of the most important ballet companies in the world including Paris Opera Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Bayerisches Staatsballett Munich, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, NDT1, Australian Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet. He is in demand as a choreographer for theatre (Old Vic, National Theatre, Royal Court), opera (La Scala/ROH Dido and Aeneas, Acis and Galatea), film (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Tarzan, Fantastic Beasts 1 & 2, Sing, Mary Queen of Scots), music videos (Radiohead, Atoms for Peace, The Chemical Brothers), fashion shows (Gareth Pugh at London Fashion Week 2017), and TV (Brit Awards opening performance 2016, Paloma Faith’s Brit Awards performance 2015). Some of the long list of artists who have partnered with McGregor through more than twenty years of collaborative multi-disciplinary work include John Tavener, Audrey Niffenegger, Jamie xx, Max Richter, Olafur Eliasson, Kaija Saariaho, Lucy Carter, Ben Frost, Jlin, Thom Yorke, Mark Wallinger, Random International, Jon Hopkins, John Pawson and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Wayne McGregor is Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has an Honorary Doctor of Science from Plymouth University and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from University of Leeds. He is part of the Circle of Cultural Fellows at King’s College London. He is Vice President of the Roundhouse, a Trustee of Aerowaves, and Patron of The Place and the Lisa Ullman Travel Scholarship. In 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association. McGregor topped the list for dance in The Progress 1000 celebration of London’s most influential people in 2018.
McGregor's work has earned him a multitude of awards including four Critics' Circle Awards, two Time Out Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, two Olivier Awards, a prix Benois de la Danse and two Golden Mask awards. In 2011 McGregor was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance.
McGregor on using artificial intelligence:
What questions are you exploring using AI as a choreographer?
“My deliberately untitled work, which premiered July 2019 at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in L.A., is a philosophical meditation on how a dance is made. It explores questions like: what does it mean to choreograph? And can interesting choreography be made with help from artificial intelligence?”
How has technology impacted your creative practice?
"Running through all my practice is my relationship with technology. I'm fascinated by how AI might explore the potential of choreography. Normally I ask my dancers to make iterative versions of an idea. This does is 400,000 iterations. The canvas is way bigger.”
How do you work with AI to generate new movement?
"What this tool allows us to do is say: I'm starting with this phrase, and I'd like the AI to invent the next phrase – but in the style of Jordan, or in the style of Jess. And then you can get combinations of those. It's learning all the time and feeding back, so this iterative version gives you all of these new possibilities you couldn't have imagined."