Susie Crow (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 16:51:50 -0700

I saw the Millenarium at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last autumn.  My curiosity was aroused by the marketing blurb about the use of new technologies, but I came away disappointed and rather cynical.  The lack of an overt presence of technology and gizmos wouldn't matter but I found the work uninteresting in its choreographic structure, and about twice as long as it need have been for the material.  It was hard to see where the interaction with technology could have occurred, or how it affected the choreographer's creative processes, since the piece, apart >from more expensive looking setting and costuming, looked pretty similar in dance content to the other piece on the programme accomplished without the aid of new technologies.  By comparison some of the work in progress shown at Riverside Studios at the end of Digital Dancing really began to show how a close relationship with technology might affect dance content and form in different ways.
Admittedly Wayne MacGregor is making work which has to tour and fulfill all sorts of commercial obligations, and he is also presenting in conventional theatrical settings, so that there are a lot of practical limitations which will restrict what he can do in this area.  However I felt that the publicity hype did on balance mislead as to the innovative use/influence of technology and also the status of MacGregor as a choreographer, so that one's expectations were disappointed on both fronts, and this I think does no-one any favours, including MacGregor himself, who is a remarkable idiosyncratic performer and had assembled a fine company of dancers for the project.  It did suggest a calculated attempt to court fashion, or perhaps to give sponsors the profile they wanted, regardless of the accuracy/validity of the description of the work.  Sadly, in the current funding situation promoters haven't much choice.  They are having both to attract a disengaged public and satisfy the funding bodies' fixation with the overtly new.
It would have been helpful in this case, given the claims made in the publicity, to have had a programme note explaining how the work was made.  But the work should be able to engage the audience and communicate something without reference to it beforehand.  For me it wasn't a very satisfactory work whatever the technologies used.
I also agree with Jeff's comments about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts in the relationship of the elements involved in a performance piece.