Michael Clark Dance Company’s to a simple rock ‘n’ roll… songoffers a snapshot of the work of this renowned innovator of British dance in three short pieces: Satie Studs/Ogives Composite, Landand my mother, my dog and clowns.
In Satie Studs/Ogives Composite,Michael Clark gives us a highly technical piece, grounded in classical ballet yet defined by the rigid use of arms and upper body, and sudden, jerking leaps. The choreography, based upon prolonged balances and synchronised movement, demands exemplary strength and discipline. Although this exposes a few wobbles and inconsistent arm and headlines, on the whole the company is well drilled and highly impressive. The solo piano recording is very loud and often discordant, and the choreography shares little emotive connection with the music, so it’s hard to engage with this opening piece.
Michael Clark’s second offering, Land, set to a compilation of Patti Smith music, is still highly technical, yet allows the company freedom to luxuriate and relish in the choreography. Quick, fiddly ballet-inspired movement is made undeniably cool by slinky catwalks and low-key, relaxed arms. Here, Clark finds his emotive connection to the music, picking out lines of Patti Smith’s lyrics with sultry, symbolic gesture. The dancers throw themselves into this fast-paced piece in a winning combination of sheer technical brilliance and utter commitment. Critic’s Circle Award winner Harry Alexander stands out with lyrical, rippling use of his long limbs and a natural, commanding stage presence.
The evening concludes with my mother, my dog and clowns– a wonderful tribute to the work of David Bowie. Michael Clark rises to the occasion and provides the theatricality associated with this superstar’s rich back catalogue in elaborate patterns and expressive solo work. The company dominate the stage – leaping, spinning and rolling – in reflective one-pieces worthy of Ziggy Stardust. The gymnastic, virtuoso quality of their performance is breath-taking and offers a fresh perspective on Bowie’s iconic music.
The company pack a lot into this frenetic mixed bill, which is a joyful collision of classical technique, extreme athleticism and a cool punk attitude.