Once an enfant terrible, now more of a national treasure, we reveal choreographer Michael Clark’s colourful past in time for his latest show ‘New Work’ at the Barbican (until October 27)…
Time Out cover, 1984 (above)
The Royal Ballet’s star pupil becomes a punk, drops out of the ballet world and graces Time Out’s cover as a mere 22 year old, with his bum out (this was to become a theme).
‘Hail the New Puritan’, 1986
Mark E Smith of The Fall becomes a regular collaborator and Clark’s company appear dancing with the band on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ (with buttocks exposed, again). Smith then appears with Clark in Charles Atlas’s mock documentary about the dancer and his company, originally shown on Channel 4. We strongly recommend you seek out the clips on YouTube.
‘I am Curious, Orange’, 1988
With another Fall soundtrack, this show features ’80s club legend Leigh Bowery on stage, in typically restrained clobber. Bowery is a key influence on Clark and designs many of the costumes for the company’s shows.
Clark and his then boyfriend, dancer Stephen Petronio, perform what is essentially a live sex show in the Anthony D’Offay Gallery in Mayfair. Yes, those are penises coming out of the walls. Heroin and then methadone addiction leads to an enforced hiatus in Clark’s career and he absconds to the wilds of Aberdeenshire to recover.
‘Stravinsky Project’, 2005-7
Clark makes a stop-start return to dance in the late ’90s, but his Stravinsky trilogy – reworkings of earlier works set to glorious Stravinsky scores – is a triumph and shows that Clark’s choreography has lost none of the beauty, clarity, absurdity and provocation of the early days. Clark himself appears in a cameo, dressed as a toilet. Lyndsey Winship
All images from ‘Michael Clark’, edited by Suzanne Cotter and Robert Violette, published by Violette Editions. The book will be on sale at the Barbican shows, alongside limited edition prints.