Michael Clark Company presented a three act cool pop tribute to his mentors past and present set to the sensational sounds from Patti Smith, David Bowie and Erik Satie. The minimal complexity of Clark’s choreography created a punk inspired performance loved by the audience who responded with a standing ovation.
Act I – Satie Studs / Ogives Composite tribute to Erik Satie (on the 150th anniversary of his birth) opened the evening with the eight extraordinary dancers dressed in shiny catsuits dipped half black and half white making the dancers look like a physical representation of the piano keys from Erik Satie’s dramatic and unrelenting score that provided the musical backdrop to the angular, emotionless and repetitive choreography.
The piece opens with the dancers set out in a grid moving slowly in sequence, their pulsating movements rapidly increasing in speed and complexity, they slide legs along the ground with legs turned in, they roll, bend, purist positions are attacked and reshaped creating a pattern that becomes more erratic as a frenzy builds.
Although the choreography appeared simple, each movement comprised small punchy details creating a punk music video feel to the work. Clark’s piece showcased the dancer’s individually and collectively, particularly with Harry Alexander’s commanding performance and Benjamin Warbis’ impressive solo.
Act II : Land set to Patti Smith presented the choreography pared down further with vacancy between the movement, the dancers and the dark stage set against a video installation by Charles Atlas. A short rock n roll piece with dancer’s continuing the theme of angular, popping, hip swirls and head rolls filled with raunch and debauchery, enhanced by the sleek catsuits that added a pop culture-esq mechanical element to the dancers’ movements.
Act III : my mother, my dog and CLOWNS! finished the evening with blaring music by David Bowie, a brilliant tribute set on a brilliant orange backdrop that illuminated the dancers dressed this time in metallic orange catsuits with their faces muted by face paint that made them appear even more robotic and devoid of emotions. The climatic finale wowed the audience as the movement appeared almost as if a computer glitch sent the dancers into a joyful and liberating moment of body rolls, hip swirls, backbends, twisted duos and ecstasy filled moments that were an hypnotic and electrifying end to a pulsating punk filled programme that continues to set the Barbican Associate artist Clark as a pop and popular choreographer.
Reviewed by the Barbican on 20 October 2017.