Rain Room – Wayne McGregor I Random Dance: The Curve, The Barbican, 2 December 2012

If you like pina coladas

One of the most talked about art installations in London at the moment is rAndom International’s Rain Room at The Barbican’s Curve gallery. It’s a remarkable space where, through a clever use of sensors, you can walk through falling rain without getting wet.

Into the downpour have been added (on selected days) members of  Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance company. The dancers drift in and out of the monsoon in flesh coloured smalls, flexing their limbs in langrous stretches and poses to the gentle hum of Max Richter’s New Age spa music. They neither acknowledge the rain or work against it, instead preferring to let the spotlight at the far end of the installation create the physical harmony with the rain.

It’s a wonderful experience and, beyond even the visuals, the great joy of it lies in the proximity of the dancers. As a spectator you are literally in the midst of the performance; the dancers move before, around and behind you, and you likewise around them. When a dancer approaches you from behind a crystalline sheet of water and you find yourself sharing the same rainless space it feels immediately intimate and personal.

Equally, though, there’s a voyeuristic element to it all – rarely do you have the license to stare so boldly at a stranger’s flesh from such close quarters. The wall of rain around you adds a veil of secrecy but its transparency also lets in the inquisitive eyes of other spectators in the room. Everyone’s a performer in the Rain Room.

Rain Room is free to enter (although it’s recommended that you bring something/someone with you to keep you occupied in the queue) and runs at the Barbican until 3 March 2013. Random Dance will be dodging the raindrops again on Sunday 18 January 2013 and Sunday 24 February 2013 (11am – 5pm, also free).

Also, on the weekend of 23/24 February 2013, Wayne McGregor is running a creative lab using the Rain Room exhibition as inspiration. It’s a hands-on set of workshops that utilises Random Dance performers and is open to choreographers of all levels over the age of 18 and costs £50. The Barbican website has more details.

Gerard Davis

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