Wayne McGregor

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For those of a similar name, see Wayne MacGregor (disambiguation).
Wayne McGregor
Wayne McGregor (Random Dance Company) (2545447164).jpg
McGregor in 2008
Born 1970 (age 45–46)
Stockport, England
Occupation Choreographer

Wayne McGregor CBE (born 1970) is a British choreographer of contemporary modern dance. His work is known for its particular vocabulary of movement, for its integration of dance with film and visual art, and for its incorporation of computer technology and biological science.[1] He is the Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor formerly Wayne McGregor Random Dance,[2] Resident Company at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London and the Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, appointed 2006;[3] He is Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance [4] and holds an honorary doctor of science degree from Plymouth University. He was the government’s first Youth Dance Champion, appointed 2008.[5] In 2004 McGregor was a Research Fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge. His work continues to explore the relationship between movement and brain science.[6]

McGregor has created new work for international companies including La Scala Theatre Ballet of Milan; Paris Opera Ballet; Nederlands Dans Theatre; San Francisco Ballet; Stuttgart Ballet; New York City Ballet; The Australian Ballet; and English National Ballet of London. He served as Movement Director for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and choreographed music videos for Radiohead ("Lotus Flower") and Atoms for Peace ("Ingenue"). Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet was his first full-length piece for the company, drawing on the writings of Virginia Woolf with music by Max Richter. McGregor premiered Tree of Codes, a new contemporary ballet created in collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson and producer/composer Jamie xx at the Manchester International Festival (which commissioned the work) on Friday 3 July 2015. Inspired by the Jonathan Safran Foer artwork of the same name, Tree of Codes featured dancers from his own company with soloists from the Paris Opera Ballet.


McGregor was born in Stockport, England, in 1970. He studied dance at Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds and at the José Limon School in New York. In 1992 he was appointed Choreographer-in-Residence at The Place, London, and in the same year he founded his own company, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance. McGregor evolved what was to become his distinctive choreographic style on Random.

His choreography is an extrapolation of his own movement vocabulary: "[It] had its origins in McGregor’s own long, lean and supple physique and in his body’s ability to register movement with peculiar sharpness and speed; at one extreme McGregor’s dancing was a jangle of tiny fractured angles, at the other it was a whirl of seemingly boneless fluidity."[7]

It was during his major trilogy The Millennarium (1997), Sulphur 16 (1998) and Aeon (2000) that the company became known for its radical approach to new technology – incorporating animation, digital film, 3D architecture, electronic sound and virtual dancers into the live choreography. Collaborations with leading multi-disciplinary artists helped to form the company’s futurist aesthetic. In 2001 it was invited to be the first resident company at the new Sadler’s Wells. McGregor was named one of "25 to Watch" in 2001 by Dance Magazine.[8]

His career to date has also included choreographing for films such as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", creating site-specific installations for Southbank Centre’s The Hayward, The Saatchi Gallery, the Houses of Parliament and for the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Collaborations with artists outside of the dance field have included composers Sir John Tavener, Scanner, Plaid and Joby Talbot/The White Stripes, animatronics experts, Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop and neuroscientists and heart-imaging specialists. McGregor was the first to curate, in September 2008, the three-day-long new festival for the Royal Opera House, Deloitte Ignite. This came 18 months after his Royal Opera House production "Chroma" (2006).

McGregor was appointed Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet in December 2006. His productions for The Royal Ballet include the award-winning Infra (2008), Limen (2009), Live Fire Exercise (2011), Carbon Life (2012), Machina for Metamorphosis: Titian 2012 (2012), "Raven Girl" with author Audrey Niffenegger (2013), and most recently "Tetractys - The Art of Fugue" (2014) with designs by Tauba Auerbach, set to the music of J.S. Bach. In 2009 he presented a new staging of his La Scala production of the opera Dido and Aeneas, alongside Acis and Galatea (this marked McGregor’s Royal Opera debut). He also directed Sum for The Royal Opera (2012).

Recently McGregor has created "Atomos" (2013), UNDANCE (2011) and "FAR" (2010) for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, as well new work for San Francisco Ballet, Australian Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, New York City Ballet and Paris Opera Ballet.

McGregor was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to dance.[9]

In 2013 McGregor was given an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Plymouth University.[10]

In March 2014 he was appointed Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance [4]



A new work for Zürich Ballet, to Max Richter's "Vivaldi Recomposed", with design by Idris Khan. It premiered at Zürich Opera House on 24 April 2014.

The Art of Fugue[edit]

A contemporary ballet set to the music of J.S. Bach, with design by artist Tauba Auerbach. It premiered at The Royal Opera House on 7 February 2014.


McGregor's most recent piece for his company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance. With original music by A Winged Victory for the Sullen, costumes by Studio XO, and lighting and film by long-term collaborators Lucy Carter and Ravi Deepres. It premiered at Sadler's Wells, London, on 9 October 2013 and is currently touring internationally.

Raven Girl[edit]

An innovative modern fairytale by McGregor, in collaboration with writer Audrey Niffenegger and composer Gabriel Yared, for The Royal Ballet. It premiered at The Royal Opera House on 24 May 2013.


McGregor's first commission for San Francisco Ballet, taking influence from the paintings of artist Josef Albers, with music by Joel Cadbury and Paul Stoney. It premiered on 29 January 2013.


McGregor's piece, with choreographer Kim Brandstrup, composer Nico Muhly and artist Conrad Shawcross, for The Royal Ballet's Metamorphosis: Titian 2012. It premiered at The Royal Opera House on 14 July 2012.

Big Dance Trafalgar Square 2012[edit]

A large-scale 40 minute performance by 1000 participants from 30 groups around London, performed in Trafalgar Square on 14 July 2012, as part of "Big Dance 2012".[11]

Carbon Life[edit]

With pop and fashion as the theme, McGregor joined forces with Gareth Pugh, Mark Ronson and guest artists, in a work for The Royal Ballet, which premiered on 5 April 2012.


A collaboration with composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and visual artist Mark Wallinger, UNDANCE for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance was inspired by American sculptor Richard Serra’s List of Verbs and the work of photographer Eadweard J. Muybridge. It premiered at Sadler's Wells, London, on 1 December 2011.

L'Anatomie de la Sensation, pour Francis Bacon[edit]

McGregor's first full-length piece for the Paris Opera Ballet. The premiere was at Bastille on 2 July 2011 (postponed from the original date of 29 June due to strikes). Inspired by the paintings of Francis Bacon, to music by British composer Mark Antony-Turnage, with a set by Chroma designer John Pawson, lighting design by Lucy Carter and costume design by Moritz Junge.

Live Fire Exercise[edit]

A collaboration with the visual artist John Gerrard, a creator of ‘real-time virtual worlds’, and composer Michael Tippett, for The Royal Ballet. It premiered at The Royal Opera House on 13 May 2011.

Radiohead and Atoms For Peace[edit]

A video for the song Lotus Flower (song) by Radiohead, featured the band's lead singer Thom Yorke; whose dancing was choreographed by Wayne McGregor. The video was made available on the band's YouTube channel on 18 February 2011 and has since received about 26 million views; it has also inspired almost 100 'copycat' videos. In addition, Yorke's solo band, "Atoms For Peace" released a video for their song "Ingenue" from their album "AMOK"; which featured Thom Yorke and dancer Fukiko Takase dancing to the choreography of McGregor. Ingenue was made available on XL Recordings' YouTube channel on 28 February 2013, and hit 1 million views within the first five days.


Currently touring the UK and internationally, FAR is a full-length piece by McGregor for his own company, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance. It has music by Brian Eno collaborator Ben Frost, lighting by Lucy Carter, costumes by Moritz Junge and set design by the art and design collective rAndom International.


McGregor's third work for Stuttgart Ballet - following Nautilus (2003) and EDEN|EDEN (2005). Music by Esa-Pekka Salonen.


McGregor's debut for New York City Ballet, with music by British composer Thomas Ades. It premiered at the Lincoln Center on 14 May 2010


Entity [12] is an hour-long dance piece for Wayne McGregor | Random Dance featuring 10 dancers and soundscape created by Jon Hopkins (Coldplay and Massive Attack collaborator) and award-winning composer Joby Talbot. Entity premiered at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, London in April 2008. In December 2010, Entity became the first full length dance performance available on Apple's iTunes video download service.

Dyad 1909[edit]

One of two ballets that McGregor created to celebrate the centenary of the Ballets Russes; the other is Dyad 1929, for The Australian Ballet. Dyad 1909, for Wayne McGregor Random Dance, is inspired by Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition to the South Pole in 1909, the year that the Ballets Russes was founded. The creative team includes the acclaimed artists and filmmakers Jane and Louise Wilson, longstanding lighting designer Lucy Carter and costume designer Moritz Junge. Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds provides a newly commissioned score combining piano, strings and electronics.


Limen, for The Royal Ballet, premiered at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in November 2009. It uses the classical vocabulary of 15 dancers, including Edward Watson, Leanne Benjamin, Steven McRae, Sarah Lamb and Eric Underwood. The women dance en pointe lending the work a more classical air than McGregor's previous Royal Ballet commissions. Its centrepiece is an ethereal pas de deux, danced in bright spotlight against a black backdrop set to a futuristically raw sounds of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. McGregor says that Limen - a word that relates to ideas of limits and thresholds - is a meditation on ‘thresholds of life and death, darkness and light, reality and fantasy’.[citation needed] Such borderline territory is akin to that of the work of Japanese contemporary conceptual artist Tatsuo Miyajima, with whom McGregor has collaborated on the sets.

Dido and Aeneas / Acis and Galatea[edit]

A double bill of Purcell and Handel, conceived, directed and choreographed by McGregor. The production uniquely combined the forces of both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet companies. McGregor’s Dido and Aeneas is based on his production at La Scala, Milan, in 2006. Here it is paired with Handel’s pastoral masque Acis and Galatea. Lead singers include Sarah Connolly (Dido) and Danielle de Niese (Galatea), making her Covent Garden debut. For Acis, the dancers include Edward Watson, Lauren Cuthbertson and Eric Underwood. Set designs are by Hildegard Bechtler; costume designs are by Fotini Dimou and lighting design is by Lucy Carter; The Orchestra of The Age Of Enlightenment is conducted by Christopher Hogwood. Visual animation of a horse, representing the journey of Dido and Aeneas into the underworld, was produced by Mark Hatchard of Hotbox Studios.[13]


Infra created for The Royal Ballet and premiered in November 2008 at the Royal Opera House. The set for the show included an 18-metre LCD display with animations by British artist Julian Opie who also designed the set. The music for the show was by composer Max Richter. The show had a cast of 12 dancers from the Royal Ballet and also a number of extras with short non-dancing roles.

The BBC aired a special one-hour feature which documented the making of Infra, and also showed the work in full.[14]


Chroma is McGregor’s 2006 award-winning dance piece for The Royal Ballet. The score, drawn from compositions and arrangements by Joby Talbot and his arrangements of music by The White Stripes, is paired with stark minimalist designs by architect John Pawson.


Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2016 Critics' Circle National Dance Award Best classical choreography Woolf Works (The Royal Ballet) Won
2014 Evening Standard Power 1000 (Most Influential Londoners) The Arts - Dance Won
2014 Helpmann Award Best Ballet or Dance Work Chroma (Australian Ballet) Won
2014 Taglioni European Ballet Award Best Production Raven Girl Nominated
2013 Huading Award, China Global Best Dance Actor Wayne McGregor Nominated
2013 Sky Arts South Bank Show Award Best Choreography Atomos Nominated
2013 Evening Standard 1000 Most Influential Londoners The Arts - Dance Won
2012 Evening Standard 1000 Most Influential Londoners The Arts - Dance Won
2012 Isadora Duncan Award Outstanding Achievement in Restaging / Revival / Reconstruction Antoine Vereecken - restaging of Chroma (San Francisco Ballet) Won
2012 London Award for Art & Performance Dance Wayne McGregor Nominated
2012 Dance on Camera, New York Wayne McGregor - Going Somewhere by Catherine Maximoff Won
2012 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Choreography Chroma (National Ballet of Canada) Nominated
2012 Grammy Award Best Music Video Lotus Flower by Radiohead, choreography by Wayne McGregor Nominated
2012 Golden Mask Award Critics’ Prize Chroma (Bolshoi Ballet) Won
2012 Golden Mask Award Best Dancer Svetlana Lunkina, dancing in Chroma (Bolshoi Ballet) Nominated
2011 Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) For services to dance Wayne McGregor Won
2011 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Sound Design / Composition Chroma (Joby Talbot) Won
2011 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Production Chroma Nominated
2011 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Performance Chroma- National Ballet of Canada Nominated
2011 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding Choreography Chroma- National Ballet of Canada Nominated
2010 South Bank Show Award Dance Limen Nominated
2010 Globe de Cristal Musical Kirikou et Karaba Nominated
2010 Globe de Cristal Opera or Dance Genus Nominated
2010 Helpmann Award Best Choreography Dyad 1929 Nominated
2010 Helpmann Award Best Ballet or Dance Work Dyad 1929 Nominated
2009 Olivier Award Outstanding Achievement in Dance Infra Nominated
2009 Olivier Award New Dance Production Infra Nominated
2009 Critics' Circle Award Best Classical Choreography Infra Won
2009 Movimentos Award Entity Won
2009 Prix Benois de la Danse Infra Won
2009 Ballet Tanz Choreographer of the Year Wayne McGregor Won
2009 International Theatre Institute Excellence in International Dance Wayne McGregor Won
2009 South Bank Show Award Dance Entity and Infra Won
2008 Green Room Award Design Dyad 1929 Nominated
2008 Green Room Award Betty Pounder Award for Choreography Dyad 1929 Nominated
2008 Green Room Award Dance Ensemble Dyad 1929 - Australian Ballet Nominated
2008 Dance Week Festival, Zagreb Audience Award Entity Won
2007 Olivier Award Outstanding Achievement in Dance Chroma Nominated
2007 Olivier Award Best New Dance Production Chroma Won
2007 Critics' Circle Award Best Classical Choreography Chroma Won
2007 South Bank Show Award Dance Royal Ballet triple bill featuring Chroma Won
2006 Critics' Circle Award Best Modern Choreography Amu Won
2005 Critics' Circle Award Best Modern Choreography AtaXia Nominated
2005 South Bank Show Award Dance AtaXia Nominated
2004 Critics' Circle Award Outstanding Achievement in Dance 2Human Won
2002 IMZ Dance Screen Award Chrysalis Won
2002 Time Out Award Outstanding Choreography PreSentient Won
2002 Critics' Circle Award Best Modern Choreography Nemesis Nominated
2001 Time Out Award Outstanding Choreography Symbiont(s) Won
2001 Critics' Circle Award Best Classical Choreography Symbiont(s) Nominated
2001 Critics' Circle Award Best Modern Choreography The Trilogy Nominated
2001 South Bank Show Award Dance Aeon Nominated
2000 Critics' Circle Award Best Modern Choreography Aeon Nominated
1996 Olivier Award Best Theatre Choreographer A Little Night Music Nominated

Choreographic style[edit]

McGregor’s choreography is characterised by dynamic, sharp, often fragmented and often sinuously fluid movement. This movement vocabulary has its origins in McGregor’s own long, lean and supple physique and in his body’s ability to register movement with peculiar sharpness and speed.[citation needed]

Fascination with technology and science[edit]

McGregor started playing with computers when he was seven and it was natural for him to incorporate the cyber world into his own choreography[citation needed]. Collaborating with state-of-the-art designers, he experimented with projecting computer generated images onto the stage. In Sulphur 16 (1998) his dancers were dwarfed by the presence of a shimmering virtual giant and danced with a company of digital figures who wove and shimmered among them. In Aeon (2000) digitally created landscapes transported the dancers to what seemed like other dimensions and other worlds.

On specific occasions McGregor has used technology to alter the conditions under which his work is viewed. 53 Bytes (1997) was created for simultaneous performance by two sets of dancers in Berlin and Canada and it was watched by audiences in both countries by live satellite link. In 2000 McGregor aimed for a wider global public by transmitting a live performance of his Trilogy Installation over the internet.

Wayne McGregor Random Dance has been the vehicle for McGregor’s ongoing fascination with the mechanisms of the human body. In Amu (2005) he explored the functions and the symbolism of the heart, in Ataxia (2004) the connection between brain and body movement and in Entity (2008) the links between artificial intelligence and choreography.

During Entity rehearsals, he and the dancers worked alongside six international cognitive scientists and technologists from esteemed institutes including University College London, University of Cambridge, University of California, San Diego and Imperial College London. In January 2009 they traveled to University of California, San Diego and created a new piece of work under ‘lab’ conditions, Dyad 1909; fueling the search for new creative decisions on the part of McGregor and new findings in the brain/body relationship for the scientists.[citation needed]



  1. ^ [1] www.randomdance.org >Wayne McGregor >About
  2. ^ [2] David Hutchison, "Plans unveiled for Studio Wayne McGregor in Olympic Park", 17 February 2016, thestage.co.uk
  3. ^ [3] Norman Lebrecht, "How Wayne will change the Royal Ballet," 5 December 2006, scena.org.
  4. ^ a b [4] Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (6 March 2014)
  5. ^ British Government Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Media Release "Award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor appointed country's first ‘Dance Champion’ for young people by Margaret Hodge"
  6. ^ [5] Conversation with Matt Chafee at University of Minnesota
  7. ^ [6] www.randomdance.org >Wayne McGregor >Biography
  8. ^ "25 to Watch - notable dancers, companies and choreographers". Dance Magazine. January 2001. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59647. p. 8. 31 December 2010.
  10. ^ http://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/graduation/honorarydegrees/honoraries2013/Pages/Wayne-McGregor%20CBE.aspx
  11. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120801101356/http://www.bigdance2012.com/trafalgar_square.php. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 3 August 2012.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Random Dance: Entity
  13. ^ Dominic McHugh (1 April 2009). "Purcell: Dido and Aeneas; Handel: Acis and Galatea". Musicalcriticism.com
  14. ^ Debra, Craine (17 November 2008). "Infra at Covent Garden". The Times

External links[edit]

Media related to Wayne McGregor at Wikimedia Commons