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The Michael Clark Company

Michael Clark Company

'Oh My Goddess'

by Rosella Simonari

October 4, 2003 -- Sadler's Wells, London

A huge sheet-like programme in a fluorescent orange served as my introduction into Michael Clark's underworld, a cheerful atmosphere to warm up the chilled souls and bodies of people coming into Sadler’s Wells, acknowledging the fact that summer is over on this side of the world. A quick beer and my curiosity is roused to see and discover the movements, the moments that will capture my attention giving me a sense of who and what Michael Clark is about.

I belong to those 'brave' folk who decided to go for the standing tickets.  It felt like a concert - very exciting, people of all ages sitting and waiting, waiting and chatting away. My friend and I found a suitable place in the middle and rested until a remarkably intense voice declared the start of the performance, not before reminding everybody of switching off their mobile phones (of course not everybody 'obeyed'!).

Somebody is chewing gum by my ear, lights go off and curtain is raised.  A world of irony invades the stage. The first part of this work is very enjoyable especially for the asymmetric black wig device of the group in 'Dreams' and for the dynamism of 'Can, Did'. Had 'Satie Studs' been a bit shorter, I believe I would have enjoyed it more. Nevertheless, the comic effect of the costumes and the slow pace of the dancers’ movements made it quite entertaining.

The second part of the performance (after an interval spent in finding a better spot as my height did not allow a relaxed laid back type of watching, ah!) was the one I preferred. 'To bring you my love' opens 'Oh my Goddess'. It is a beautiful song by P.J.Harvey, her raucous and steady voice perfect to introduce the piece. The costumes range from black leotards to pastel pink short dresses. The black leotards with a touch of acid green for women and of fluorescent pink for men, are placed within the pelvic area, going along the inside legs for the former, and upwards to the stomach for the latter. Humour does need small, but strategically placed spots, to work out! The pastel pink short dresses worn by men and women alike (one would say: what is 'man'? what is 'woman' in this realm?) and cut as to reveal part of the dancers' bottom (not bare but explicitly displayed under the stretching pastel pink texture!) underline the high paced rhythm of the choreography.

As for Michael Clark himself, he appears and disappears, engaging at times in articulated set of movements. In addition he is wearing a sparkling silver ring, which highlights, in flashy snapshots, the movements of his upper torso and arms.  The first choral piece of the performance presented the dancers dressed alike in black, robotically moving to a very 80s music. What produced an ironic and at the same time witty effect was an almost mechanical torso movement completed by a slapping action of their right-or-left (can't figure out at present) arm. The straight black a-symmetrical wig they all were wearing added the final touch to the bit, thus inscribing the piece in a perfect michaelclarkish mode of action.

By the end of the performance with the last piece in again a-symmetrically mis-assembled suits, I understood that slapping was not just a torso-right-or-left-arm mode of action but rather a politics of dance Michael Clark uses to fill his work. He used to shock his audience and he always employs a good portion of humour in his approach to space and movement, a quality dance needs and is hungry for. Therefore I say 'keep on slapping us Michael, keep it up...and thanks for the vibes!!!'

Edited by Stuart Sweeney

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