There are few more awe-inspiring images than the glimpses scientists have given us of space – from a pinwheel of stars suffusing light into the darkness, to the molten, roiling surface of the sun. 8 Minutes at The Lowry, a new piece from emerging choreographer Alexander Whitley, uses the spectacular forces at work in the universe as both inspiration and a visual backdrop, with dancers performing in front of an installation of astonishing high-definition imagery created by BAFTA award-winning visual artist Tal Rosner. Named after the time it takes for light from the sun to reach earth, the work explores the complex relationship humans have with the star that gives us life.
This Sadler’s Wells’ commission, co-commissioned with DanceEast, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and in association with Manchester Science Festival (of which it will be part), was created by Whitley in partnership with scientists from STFC RAL Space, a world-class facility currently involved in over 210 space missions. 8 Minutes uses data and images from the lab’s STEREO Mission and Solar Dynamics Observatory, with choreography set to a celestial, industrial score by electroacoustic innovator Daniel Wohl. “It is the artist’s unique perspective on the scientist’s objective analysis that is the most powerful aspect of this project,” says Dr Hugh Mortimer of STFC RAL Space, who advised Whitley on how to incorporate solar physics into the piece. Opening to critical acclaim earlier this year, 8 Minutes is a stunning addition to The Lowry’s programme in October.