A gift of sound and vision Bowie would applaud
To a simple, rock ’n’ roll . . . song. Michael Clarke Company, Warwick Arts Centre, March 6 only.
It wasn’t a good start to the evening; half of Coventry and Warwickshire had travelled to Warwick Art Centre to listen to Ben Fogle talk and the traffic jam snaked its way slowly along the winding road to the car parks.
Parking was tight and in the end I and a small group of others arrived at the venue a few minutes too late to see ACT 1 -Satie Studs. We had to wait until the first dance was finished before we could join the audience, so we were immediately thrust into ‘Horses’ . This, routine based on Patti Smith’s album, displayed an extraordinary display of strength and balance. Senses were engaged not only through the mesmerising dance movements ; Patti Smith’s anarchic sound track and a visually compelling video installation of swirling numbers jumping before your eyes added to the vigorous, thrusting movements of the choreography. The last part of the trilogy is a celebration of David Bowie, starting with Blackstar, recorded shortly before his death. The whole feel of the performance had an underlying reverence as the dancers dressed in silver moved against a sombre backdrop. Although, as an audience, you couldn’t escape the sadness behind the performance, it succeeded in creating a thoughtful piece that didn’t tip into sentimentality through the rigour and often beauty of the choreography. Next, the mood changed as the stage was flooded with bright red and orange light. Dancing to Aladdin Sane, rebellion and defiance came across with a mix of more conventional ballet movements set against contempory choreography.
There was a feeling of controlled anarchy as the dancers used the stage to pull apart and then come together, all to a sometimes dissonant musical arrangement. Finally, a joyous arrangment of Jean Genie, Bowie’s tribute to gay French icon, the author Jean Genet. The dancers, dressed somewhat camply in striped blazers, moved in more playful, extrovert ways, and with still some rebellious defiance of conventions, and left the audience wanting more of Michael Clarke's extraordinary choreography.