Review: Michael Clark Company New Work 2012 @ Barbican

Melissa Hetherington and Benjamin Warbis / photo by Hugo Glendinning

Waiting behind the anodyne title of this new work from Michael Clark is a proper spectacle that could have you beaming and bouncing around in your seat by curtain call.

Lately, Michael Clark has excelled at bending his core disciplines of ballet and contemporary dance around rock and pop music. In the first half it’s a sextet of Scritti Politti tracks that the demurely clad cast describe, with Clark’s choreography stretching out and over-emphasising the simplest of moves, so that the merest tendu (leg extension) appears a super-human feat from a super-honed human body. Throw into the mix unusual angles (arse on to the audience isn’t the most flattering perspective but it works here), running spurts, amazing balance and control, changing pairings of dancers, mesmerising sequences of repetitive shapes and you have a spectacle that is gripping, graspable and aesthetically appealing, whether you know dance stuff or not. At intervals there are also the expected cameos from Clark himself to spice things up (or baffle you).

If you feel you don’t get it, there’s pleasing pop music to listen to, incredible bodies to watch and it’s short, so you can get off to the bar pronto to ask your mates what the heck it was all about.

But do come back for the second half, or you’ll miss a zombiefied pop star attempt to upstage this exceptionally talented, straight-faced cast who come back in catsuits to get under the skin of Pulp’s F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E. and rock out with stools to the live antics of Relaxed Muscle.

Michael Clark Company present New Work 2012 is at Barbican Theatre tonight, Saturday 20 October, then Tuesday 23 until Saturday 27 October at 7.45pm. Tickets £16-£34.

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