Tate Modern Live: th by Michael Clark Company

Simon Williams by Jake Walters

The opening night of new commission th, live at Tate Modern last night rocked Bankside, fizzing with nervous energy and drama. Part new creation, part reworking of the best bits of ‘come, been, gone’ the piece is meant to respond to the architecture of the Turbine Hall.

Clark’s army of volunteers have been well drilled in their formation pieces and despite trademark straight faces for the performance, we are convinced they were getting as much of a kick out of the show as we did. The 48 untrained members of the public – of all ages, ethnicities, body shapes etc – complete impressively complex sequences in military style unity to Jarvis Cocker. They look striking, black clothed and moving in ranks in the brilliantly lit, cavernous space.

The actual company is bigger than usual, necessarily to fill the space. We didn’t envy the dancers their predicament. On top of the spectacular and demanding dancing we’re used to, they have to cover twice as much floorspace and play to a crowd on three sides. Plus the grandstand seating arrangement gives the audience a unique perspective. On a level, or raised slightly above and extremely close up at times, you can see every muscle, every wobble and appreciate the dancers life-sized. Unsurprisingly, first night nerves were in evidence – or was it just that we were close enough to discern them? Either way, it only added to the excitement. Even a tumble from one of the male dancers dashing north to leave the dance floor only underlined our glee at being present at the opening of such a special event.

It’s a treat watching the company do the most popular bits of ‘come, been, gone‘ – including Heroes, Aladdin Sane and Jean Genie – restaged and stretched to fill the extended dancefloor. A new section to Pulp’s Wickerman brought the expected cameo from Michael Clark himself. We were beside ourselves to see the marvellous Melissa Hetherington dance in a Bodymap catsuit, beautifully pregnant.

We knew this event was going to be a hot ticket but we had no idea how it would work or what the work would be. The first of this kind of event for Tate Modern, we’re delighted to say it works brilliantly and Michael Clark Company was an inspired choice for the new departure. Can’t wait for future Tate Modern Live events.

th is performed again tonight at 9.30pm, Friday and Saturday at 10.30pm and Sunday at 9.30pm. It’s about 90 mins with an interval. Don’t miss it. Get a ticket.

Disclaimer: We paid full price for our tickets. And we’d do it again.

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