AI Artist Spotlight: Wayne McGregor

Wayne McGregor, Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), is a choreographer who fills the role of the Resident Choreographer of The Royal Ballet and the Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor.

He is now known for his project Living AI, an AI tool that generates original dance movements based on McGregor’s past choreography. This work has helped McGregor to rise to the levels of other AI and text-to-image artists, including Kyle McDonald and David Cope.

Biography

McGregor was born in Stockport, United Kingdom, on the 12th of March, 1970. He originally studied dance at the Bretton Hall College of the University of Leed and the José Limon School in New York. In 1992, he was appointed Choreographer-in-Residence at The Place, London. That year, he founded a company named Random Dance—a company we know today as Studio Wayne McGregor.

McGregor has been commissioned by a breadth of companies. Some of the most notable examples include the Paris Opera Ballet, ABT, Bolshoi, the National Ballet of Canada, Mariinsky, Bayerische Staatsoper, the Dutch National Ballet, the Australian Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet.

Additionally, McGregor is a Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and was appointed a CBE in 2011. He is also the Vice President of the Roundhouse, a Trustee of Aerowaves, and Patron of The Place and the Lisa Ullman Travel Scholarship. In 2017, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the British Science Association; later, he topped the Dance category for The Progress 1000 list of London’s most influential people of 2018.

Living Archive

This project represents an experiment created in collaboration between numerous entities, including Studio Wayne McGregor and Google Arts and Culture Lab.

Living Archive is an AI tool that generates original movements inspired by McGregor’s archive of twenty-five years of content. The tool can create a live dialogue between the dancers and specialises in analysing how their bodies move and work.

The goal of this project is that, through the analysis of thousands of hours of video footage, the tool can learn McGregor’s style and replicate it down to the most subtle movements.

Why McGregor Loves AI

Wayne McGregor stated that one of the main reasons he chose this technology is that it can learn and recreate a specific style that a dancer might implement. Similarly to how motion capture might work, it can go a long way in capturing the creative identity surrounding dances. 

Living Archive will be utilised in real-time for future work, during which dancers will show their screens while reproductions occur on stage regarding the sequences delivered by the algorithm. 

The Future of Dance

McGregor aims to utilise AI to explore what it means to choreograph dance movements. Because the tool is constantly learning and giving feedback, the latest version can offer information surrounding new possibilities that could not have previously been imagined.