Ballet and science are not the most obvious bedfellows. However, the two are getting up close and personal in the latest Sadler’s Wells production, thanks to a new collaboration between multi award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregorand a team of cognitive scientists.
Intrigued to see the results, I went along to the Wellcome Collection, where a free exhibition goes behind the scenes of the rehearsal process ahead of the ballet premiering at Sadler’s Wells on Wednesday.
Drawing inspiration from science is nothing new for McGregor; for the past 13 years he’s led his company Random Dance through a series of collaborations, fascinated by the ways in which theories form other disciplines can stimulate new ways to make and teach dance. ‘I never felt there had to be a distinction between working with someone in an artistic way or a scientific way,’ McGregor explains in a video at the beginning of the exhibition.
This time round the focus is cognitive science and kinaesthetic intelligence. For David Kirsch, a Professor at the University of California, and theoretical cognitive scientist Phil Barnard the ballet workshops supplied a prime example of collaborative creativity not readily observable in everyday life. Dancers, it turns out, make particularly fascinating subjects for scientists to study thanks to the unique set of motor skills that they possess.
So, what do you get when you mix a cutting-edge choreographer, a team of cognitive scientists, a few digital artists and a troupe of lithe ballet dancers?
Nizuni: Thoughtful Japanese Cooking
Chinese may be the nation’s favourite cuisine, so the surveys say, but among London foodies the focus is decidedly further east.
Japanese (along with Korean) food is definitely having a moment. While Chinese brings to mind monosodium glutamate-laced take-aways and naff fortune cookies, Japanese is the sleeker, lighter, more devout alternative – think delicately flavoured, reassuringly expensive morsels in minimalist Zen surroundings.
At the glitzy end of the scale you’ve got Yashin Sushi, Dinings and Zuma’s little sister Roka, while hipsters get their fill of hirata buns at Flesh and Buns, and no-frills ramen bars now seem almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks in the West End.
Nizuni, one of Charlotte Street’s many restaurants and sharing the same owners as nearby Koba, is somewhere in the middle of the range; it’s the sort of place office workers will pack into at lunch time for bento boxes and noodles, but come evening its lights dim and candles are lit to become an atmospheric, low key date venue, replete with dark wood fittings, black banquettes and paper lanterns.
London Design Festival: Foodie Highlights
If it’s food rather than furniture that stirs your heart, you’ll be pleased to hear that London’s annual design extravaganza has plenty of gastronomic delights in store, too. Here’s a sneak peak…
Bar Chocolat (11-16 September)
Form an orderly queue. Baileys is running a week-long multi-sensory, immersive experience inspired by the pleasures of eating chocolate.
With some of the most coveted names in both the food and entertainment industries, the Covent Garden pop-up promises to be a theatrical feast for the senses. Picture an elaborate set by Petra Storrs – art director for Lady Gaga and Paloma Faith’s shows – beneath a large-scale edible art installation created by Artisan chocolatier Amelia Rope.
Add a soundtrack of a musical score from Lou Hayter and scent supplied by ‘architectural foodsmiths’ Bompas & Parr. Death by chocolate never looked/smelt/sounded so good. To attend you need to pre-book a ticket via www.barchocolatlondon.com, or reserve your place on one of the supper clubs (£17.50 for lunch and £25 for dinner). Over 18s only.
The Gourmand at KK (12 – 28 September)
Food and culture journal The Gourmand is taking up residency at KK Outlet in Hoxton Square to serve up a series of events celebrating the synergies between food and creativity. Line your stomach at the bakery and tea shop run by The Black Isle Bakery or one of the supper clubs, feast your eyes on an exhibition of views from kitchen windows around the world, and take a slice of the action home from a design and book shop curated by The Gourmand’s editors.
The Good Cheese Guide to London
There’s no need to wait for holidays to France and Italy to get your fill of delicious cheeses; a surge of interest in artisanal produce has seen quality cheesemongers flourish in the capital. I’ve rounded up my ten favourites for the use of fellow fromage fans.
1. Vivat Bacchus
A walk-in glass-walled cheese pantry is the star attraction at this London Bridge restaurant. There are four set regional cheeseboards (British, Italian, French or Swiss) and seasonal specials, but I’d advise stepping inside the cheese ‘room’ to sample and select your own compilation. There’s also a branch in Farringdon.
2. Gordon’s Wine Bar
Good luck getting a seat at this rustic institution, the cosy cave-like space usually packed to the rafters but generous slabs of continental cheese, hunks of bread and pickle boards, plus an excellent selection of ports and convivial atmosphere, make it worthwhile getting slightly trampled.
The most niche of the bunch, Obika is a Mecca for mozzarella fans. Founded by Neapolitan native Silvio Ursini, the bar serves three varieties – classic buffalo, smoked or cream-infused burrata –accompanied by simple sides such as pesto, salami or grilled artichokes. Just this week it opened a fourth London location, on Charlotte Street.
Why £100m on ‘Floating Garden’ Bridge Is Worth It
They defy material convention: from a bridge that curls up into a ball like a recoiling caterpillar [Rolling Bridge, Paddington Basin] to a 20m high cube of fibre-optic spikes – basically picture a giant porcupine – that won Britain best in show at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai (Seed Cathedral). His work is all around us in the city already – particularly since his de-cluttered, greener revamp of the iconic London bus hit the streets.