Dyad 1909 (In The Spirit Of Diaghilev) - 2009


Concept, Direction & Choreography: Wayne McGregor
Music: Olafur Arnalds
Set Design: Jane and Louise Wilson
Lighting Design: Lucy Carter
Costume Design: Moritz Junge
Make-up & Mask Design: Kabuki

Premiere: 13 October 2009, Sadler's Wells, London

Cast: 7 dancers

Commissioned by: Sadler's Wells

By now we are all familiar with the story of the maverick impresario and founder of the Ballet Russes, Sergey Diaghilev. Diaghilev's creative vision served to challenge the social norms of the day, scandalize Paris and quickly seduce the rest of the world with productions that not only redefined ballet but set a fresh agenda for the process of art making itself.

But the Ballet Russes was also very much a product of its time. From a scientific, social, political and technological perspective the period of 1909-1929 was rich in discovery and experimentation; the world was changing and fast.

For Dyad 1909, I have been inspired by a fascinating example of the period's rapid evolution, illustrated brilliantly in their pre-occupation with Antarctica: In January 1909, the Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton embarked upon his seminal Antarctic expedition the Nimrod, successfully reaching the magnetic South Pole, a first. By 1929, aviator Richard Evelyn Byrd the pioneering American polar explorer was the first to actually fly over the South Pole in a Ford Trimotor. In a mere twenty years the technological revolution had given man the enduring power of flight and with it a renewed energy for expedition. Literally now able to 'dis-cover' more of the globe it was a new dawn in possibility. Although Dyad 1909 is not a narrative 'about' Antarctica, the dance, design and music, richly contain its traces; traces that have been assimilated in the spirit of the Ballet Russes through collaboration and made visible for our time.

Dyad 1909 is dedicated to the memory of Merce Cunningham (1919-2009), a choreographer whose curiosity, sense of adventure and seamless collaboration knew no bounds.

- Wayne McGregor