Alexander Whitley: Pattern Recognition review – dancing into the light fantastic

Platform theatre, London
Lights respond to the dancer’s movements in Whitley’s intriguing work, fuelling an interaction where the shifting beams seem to acquire minds of their own

Alexander Whitley makes choreography with an engineer’s instinct for system and structure. In a recent work, Frames, he tasked his dancers with the challenge of assembling architectural shapes out of metal rods as they moved around the stage. In his new duet, Pattern Recognition, he works with motion-sensitive lighting, creating systems of movement for himself and the excellent Natalie Allen, which “teach” the lights to respond to human activity.

At first, the set-up on stage looks familiar. The lights (orchestrated by digital artist Memo Akten) throw up powerful white beams that strobe, slice and sculpt the space. The two dancers, meanwhile, appear quietly intent on executing the cantilevered leans, twists and rolls of their own choreography. As the duet progresses, however, the eight lights (neatly squat, black objects) start to trundle more experimentally around the stage; and as their swivelling glass “eyes” react to what the dancers are doing, they seem to interact with them on more equal terms, assuming an alert, enquiring intelligence that’s almost human.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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