'Oh My Goddess'
October 1, 2003 -- Sadler's Wells/London
To this day Michael Clark is described as an enfant terrible, despite the fact that he’s now in his forties. He’s come a long ways since the days when we regarded him as a beautiful youth in a corset, but he’s no less watchable. These days though there is far more choreographic input and less of Clark’s desire to shock.
“Oh My Goddess”, his new programme at Sadlers Wells, is full of inventiveness and ideas. Appearance and design remains a major element and “Dreams” made a feature of dancers in identical black wigs with the cast all flicking back their long raven locks dead on the beat. “Oh my Goddess”, started with the cast in costumes resembling underwear before switching to frocks (the men too). Clark’s naughtiness emerged in some curious male leotards, all black but with strategically placed red slashes emphasising the crotch in front and the bum behind. In the final work, “Submishmash” the costumes looked a real rag bag mix of outfits with a sly nod to one of Clark’s earlier incarnations with one of the dancers wearing over his trousers a torn tartan kilt.
The music was, with one exception, a trawl of the pop scene of the past 30 years or so from T.Rex to the Sex Pistols: the decibel level only just below the pain threshold. “Satie Studs” was the only non-pop item with some of Erik Satie’s starker piano pieces played on four grand pianos at the back of the stage.
The actual choreography impressed. Clark has created a number of highly inventive images and uses his dancers competently, whether in groups, duos or solos. “Satie Studs” included a wonderfully humorous moment with a girl tying her limbs into knots on the floor and instead of extricating herself, two male dancers lift her from the floor like a piece of furniture, removing her from the stage. The dancers are all good, some outstandingly so, fast and fluid in a work like “Oh My Goddess” and slowing down to legato in “Satie Studs. On the occasions when Clark himself appeared you could feel that special ripple run through the audience that only the finest of artists provoke.Michael Clark has been forced to re-invent himself over the years and his personal circumstances meant that he was at one time out of the frame completely. Now however, he is discovering another aspect of his talent – solid choreography without the sometimes outrageous gimmickry of the past.
Edited by Stuart Sweeney
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