to a simple rock’n’roll … song premiered in 2016 at the Barbican, where Clark is Artistic Associate, but has been extended and reworked for this new outing. It has lost none of its appeal - in fact, quite the opposite.
The evening kicks off with Satie Suds/Ogives Composite. Set to the crystalline piano notes of Eric Satie’s music, this slow piece is all about that core element of all dance: control. Indebted to Clark’s balletic training (he’s a product of the Royal Ballet School), as well as giants of contemporary dance such as Merce Cunningham, this is a profoundly elegant work where the eight dancers of his company negotiate impossibly slow and drawn out balances, creating limpid lines and patterns.
The purity of this piece dazzles.
A child of the punk rock era, Clark returns to its sentiments with the second piece of the evening, Land, which uses music by Patti Smith. The mood changes radically as the dancers’ sport black leather flares and the highly energetic choreography involves sexual hip thrusts, kicks and turns. All this takes place against the backdrop of a mesmerising black and white video installation of swirling numbers by artist, film-maker and former videographer for Merce Cunningham, Charles Atlas. In a truly remarkable feat, Clark manages to convey the anarchic nature of punk through choreography that is as rigorous and detailed as the previous piece.
The same goes for the final work of the evening, my mother, my dog and CLOWNS! which takes music from David Bowie's early and most experimental days.
Michael Clark Company, to a simple rock'n'roll... song, photo Hugo Glendinning
Here the dancers come clad in full body stockings that at first appear to be a metallic silver and at times make them look like robots or space creatures. In Black Star, former dancer and Associate Director of Michael Clark Company, Kate Coyne, has a cameo role as a mysterious figure in black robes progressing solo through the stage as if embodying a section of Bowie’s lyrics.
And then a veritable coup de theatre: the stage is suddenly bathed in bright red light and the dancers’ costumes miraculously shift from metallic grey to gold and orange. Now they look like golden idols, the colour painted on, not worn. The eye marvels.
Again, Clark juxtaposes choreography curated to the smallest detail with the raging mayhem of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, and somehow it works: the two become one. The evening ends in a fierce explosion of energy, the audience entirely in its thrall.
Clark has assembled a cast of remarkable dancers. He demands a lot of them both individually and collectively but they respond absolutely. With striking lighting design from Charles Atlas and costumes by Stevie Stewart and Clark himself, this is a highly polished production, one that’s sure to send you out into the night with soaring heart and a spring in your step.
Age guidance; 12+ (contains loud music)
|What||Michael Clark Company Review|
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
18 Oct 17 – 28 Oct 17, 20:00
|Price||£16-£45 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book via the Barbican website|