Michael Clark Company (Salford)
Joanna Ing is impressed by the latest dance piece by the Michael Clark Company at the Lowry.
Michael Clark entertains audiences once again with an extended version of his double bill of new work that was shown in 2012. These works, set to an excellent soundtrack, demonstrate technical prowess with a sense of fun.
Clark's dancers are androgynous and doll-like in their appearance. In the first half, accompanied by the swooning pop of Scritti Politti, one foot appears from above until gradually dancer Julie Cunningham is lowered down like a mannequin. The shaven Cunningham is then met by male dancer Harry Alexander, identically dressed in a simple black skirt and top outfit. It plays on perception and gender, as Cunningham appears a smaller version of Alexander.
There are rarely (if ever) all six dancers on stage, which actually gives the impression that there are more. The dancers interact with each other physically but their expressions remain blank throughout, and because of the precision of their movements they don't look quite human.
The excellent soundtrack of Scritti Politti, Sex Pistols, Pulp and Jarvis Cocker's electro duo formed with Jason Buckle, Relaxed Muscle, gives the impression of being in an 80s electronic music video. Costumes from Stevie Stewart, formally of 80s label body map, in the second half adds to this. The dancers change from silver to black as they turn in two-tone bodysuits, or writhe on the floor in black and white stripes.
All the dancers in the company are incredibly adept and there are some complicated interactions that are so fluid that they cause a sharp intake of breath from the audience. Clark mixes contemporary style with pure ballet, and at times you could strip away the costumes and the music and get some extremely advanced ballet exercises.
Even if you managed to catch the Michael Clark Company in 2012, a new dance to the music of the Sex Pistols is an excellent excuse to try and see these exhilarating works again.
- Joanna Ing