Not every ballet features dancers forming constellations, gramophone-shaped mirrors creating kaleidoscopic visuals, refractive and reflective surfaces making it appear as though performers are overlapping, and choreography created for every leaf in a 134-page text — but, not every ballet is Tree of Codes. Stemming from a dream team of creative forces, the production is currently wowing crowds in London, and for good reason.
Music, dance, art and literature fans, hold on to your hats: Tree of Codes is a collaboration between Jamie xx, Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. First previewing in Manchester in 2016, it's named after and based on the latter's book-based artwork of the same name. Also described as a "sculptural object", the printed work took Bruno Schulz's Street of Crocodiles, cut out the majority of words and fashioned what remained into a new post-apocalyptic story.
So, how do you turn that into a ballet? Foer's "blurred and disorientating worlds provide a powerful point of departure for our collaboration on stage — where constellations of light, shadows, bodies, objects and sound dance at the edges of darkness," says McGregor. "Lights panning over the audience cause its spectral image to appear on the stage's reflective, coloured scrims, integrating the viewers with the activity on the stage," states Eliasson's website, while Jamie xx created an algorithm to vocalise words from the book, transforming them into melodies. Tree of Codes' season at London's Sadler's Wells ended on March 11, and we'll keep our fingers and toes crossed that it turns up on our shores.