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Enfant terrible or elder statesman? MICHAEL CLARK returns with a new show and tales of a life in self-imposed exile.
Words: Donald Hutera
There used to be two Michael Clarks. The first was one of the dreamiest movers Britain has produced. an Aberdonian angel with a facility for dance to die for. The second was a Royal Ballet school drop-out. the bad-boy wonder whom conservative types accused of squandering his gifts via loud. gimmick laden productions. ‘lt was easier to talk about the costumes than the dance content.‘ he once remarked. Never mind that shows such as New Puritans and I Am Curious Orange drew in a new. clamourously enthusiastic young dance audience.
For Clark the 80s were hedonistic. halcyon days. as he churned out choreography while indulging a taste for club culture. ‘Things kind of snowballed.‘ he now admits. ‘but it was good to be doing tons of stuff without really having time to digest it.‘
Even our most brilliant. audacious Peter Pans have to grow up eventually — don‘t they? On an overcast Saturday in an east London café. across the table sits yet a third Clark: Michael the mature artist. the one who started to emerge via 1992‘s Modern Masterpiece and. two years later. the marvellously
I disciplined 0. This month. after four years oI
personal and artistic regeneration. this ex-wunderkind (37 in June) will be showing Scottish audiences his latest production. Set to the tribal thrash of Susan
Stenger‘s bass guitar ensemble Big Bottom.
Czu-rsz/Slilf is a carefully- crafted hunk of stripped down. envelope pushing classicism in which Clark. as dancer and dance-maker. excels.
He’s still cherubically full-lipped. if more sleepy- eyed than usual. even a tad ropey looking. (discretion prevents any queries about what he may have been up to the night before). He speaks in a slow. slightly slurred rhythm. studded with the sort of thoughtful pauses a convoy of lorries could drive through. Still. Clark waxes eloquent about the past half-decade. ‘For a long time everything I did was a reaction against something external or internal. I felt that I really didn‘t have anything to contribute to the cultural landscape. I needed to remind myself why I had to dance in the first place.‘
Clark dropped out of the dance world — and
54 THE usr 13:27 May I999
'Being a dancer wasn't something I was going to boast about to the fishermen of Fraserburgh.’ Michael Clark
Spark life: Michael Clark's Current/SEE
society — in the mid 90s. An abortive attempt to create a piece for the Royal Ballet. a knee injury and struggles with addiction helped prompt the self-
imposed exile. His spiritual ‘cure‘ consisted of
spending ‘two years up in the wilderness of Scotland. looking at the moon. the sun and the sea. I sound like a hippie!‘
‘People in the north east of Scotland are. very self- contained.‘ he continues. before adding with a knowing smile ‘some might say repressed. Being a dancer wasn‘t something I was going to boast about to the fishermen of Fraserburgh. The ones I did tell. they‘d be - "What? You get paid to dance?” It was very healthy to be in an environment where l was just nobody. ‘
Apart from touring CurrenI/Slz'lz'. Clark has filmed a BBCZ documentary based round the production. A notorious perfectionist. he also hopes to establish a studio for informal
; THIRTEEN LUCKY ORGANISATIONS
Re: treading the boards
have been awarded Scotland Onstage grants by the SAC. Among the beneficiaries are Gerry Mulgrew's New Communicado company, who will receive a fairly whopping £13,000 to commission and develop the script of Brave, which tells the life story of John Ross, the half Scottish chief of the Cherokee Indians. The Arches will receive more than £35,000 towards a medieval players style production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Citizens’ celebrate Noel Coward’s centenary with more than £40,000 going towards their show, i Cavalcade. The relatively new but rapidly rising company Vanishing | Point, whose Last Stand is I previewed in the next issue of The : List, will pocket £23,000 for their i next show, City. i I
CALLING HOOFERS, WARBLERS AND THESPS: A new musical based on the _
2 life and work of Art legend and 3
; celebrated self mutilator Vincent
. for the amateur production of
more information. SUCH WAS THE SUCCESS of 7:84
1 election campaign that the team 3 behind it are planning to re-unite
roadshow, featuring actors Sally Howitt, Billy Boyd, Jill Riddiford and
Van Gogh needs you. Open auditions are being held on Thu 13 May at the Argyle Centre, Stirling,
Vincent: The Flame Burns Bright. Go along, or call 01877 376 338 for
Theatre Company's alternative
just in time to commemorate the opening of Parliament. The satire i
Grant Smeaton, written by Stephen Greenhorn and directed by Graham
the somewhat moribund events on ; the bustings. A definite highlight i was the inspired tribute to SSP
; leader Tommy Sheridan, entitled i
; Eatough and Iain Reekie, spiced up i
9 ‘Major Tom' and borrowing heavily
showings of works-in-progress. He'd like to give the
word ‘comeback‘ a wide berth. however. ‘If the emphasis is on coming back or having been
something before. it kind of defeats the point of
returning.‘ he says. ‘l‘m trying to enjoy the freedom of not having all that baggage. What I’m trying to do now is communicate. and the less of me that gets in the way. the better.’
Current/SEE is at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 21 8: Sat 22 May.
from Bowie's ’Space Oddity'.
TRON THEATRE BAR is the venue for an exhibition looking at the art, i craft and technology of theatrical 3 design. Get along for a behind the scenes insight with your designer
‘ .. s. A “4’
Whoops, bit of politics: Grant Smeaton