Wayne McGregor on Why He Isn't Keeping His New Studios to Himself
Candoco Dance Compnay is one group Wayne McGregor has chosen to participate in FreeSpace. Photo by Pedro Machado, Courtesy Studio Wayne McGregor.
Wayne McGregor has a new home, and he intends to share it. In March, the British choreographer and his company moved into Studio Wayne McGregor, a new, state-of-the-art venue in London. They have since announced two ambitious initiatives: FreeSpace, a program gifting studio time to other artists, and PEER, a mentorship program for final-year dance students and recent graduates.
Studio Wayne McGregor was one of the organizations selected to move into the repurposed Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; its other tenants include tech companies, local universities and an innovation hub. "Connectivity was very important to us, as well as the human capital," says McGregor. "We'll have access to diverse thinkers." The facilities include three large studios and a series of smaller collaborative spaces, as well as cross-training facilities and open areas throughout the building that double as gallery space.
Meeting room at Studio Wayne McGregor. Photo by Richard Davies, Courtesy Studio Wayne McGregor.
The innovative FreeSpace and PEER programs were born out of McGregor's desire to share the facilities with the wider dance community at a difficult time in the UK, with repeated government funding cuts. "It's easy to talk about the issues facing the dance sector, but I thought we had to do something," McGregor says, citing the cost ("around £2,000 per week," or over $2,500) of renting a studio in London.
As part of FreeSpace, 5,000 hours of studio time will be gifted to 25 artists over one year. In exchange, for each week spent in the Studio they are asked to devote one day to outreach projects. Candoco Dance Company and Didy Veldman are part of the first cohort selected by McGregor, who curates FreeSpace directly rather than through an application process. "I select the companies based on work I've been interested in, and the entrepreneurial vision of the director," he explains.
Didy Veldman. Photo by Stephen Wright, Courtesy Studio Wayne McGregor.
PEER, meanwhile, is a little different from standard apprentice schemes. A yearlong program for final-year dance students and recent graduates, it isn't based on "dancing ability," says McGregor, but is instead tailored to budding choreographers or future leaders. "The business of making choreography is about many things besides talent. A lot of it is presentation, or having time with professional dancers," he says.
With that in mind, McGregor has devised a program combining company class with his dancers, creative labs, mentoring and professional development sessions. PEER participants (there are currently six) must be UK-based and are selected through application and interview.
For McGregor, it is a step on the way to turning the "raw space" of the new Studio into an open hub for dancers and artists: "We want to have an engaged artistic community."
Pacific Northwest Ballet principals Rachel Foster and Jonathan Porretta took their final curtain call on June 9, 2019. Photo by Lindsay Thomas, Courtesy PNB
We all know dance careers are temporary. But this season, it feels like we're saying goodbye to more stars than usual.
Many have turned to social media to share their last curtain calls, thoughts on what it feels like to say farewell to performing, and insights into the ways that dancing has made them who they are. After years of dedicating your life to the studio and stage, the decision to stop dancing is always an emotional one. Each dancer handles it in their own way—whether that means cheekily admitting to having an existential crisis, or simply leaving with no regrets about what you did for love.
We will miss these dancers' performances, but can't wait to see what awaits each in their next chapters.
A previous lab cycle. Photo by Evan Zimmerman/MurphyMade, Courtesy RRR Creative
Choreographic incubator Broadway Dance Lab has recently been rechristened Dance Lab New York. "I found the nomenclature of 'Broadway' was actually a type of glass ceiling to the organization," says choreographer Josh Prince, who founded the nonprofit in 2012.