Another review from the Spring Loaded season of new contemporary dance at The Place
If you squashed Gary Clarke into a time capsule, buried it, and retrieved it in years to come, a heady reminder of the politically turbulent and poptastic 80’s and 90’s would leap out like a crazed jack-in-the-box. Not just a social one, but the zeitgeist of those decades in contemporary dance too.
The first dance in Ménage a Trois, and his latest work, Bagofti demonstrates his prowess as a choreographer in his own right. In the solo, Gavin Coward gives a gorgeously athletic and emotionally nimble performance, which draws on the life and work of Francis Bacon. The movement is as longingly stretched as the tights he slowly pulls off his head, evoking the distorted grimace of Bacon's Head series. The smokily subdued colour of the piece is illuminated by deft gestural work and imagery.
2 Men and a Michael, a deadpan take on the old-school British stand up of Morecambe and Wise, contains pleasingly sharp, intricate movement in unison, but is let down by its excessive repetition and loaded pauses.
Horsemeat, featuring Clarke himself, rides the wave of unexpected audience participation we also saw from Dave St-Pierre at Sadler’s Wells last Saturday, with Clarke resting his sweaty body on the audience’s laps, though probably better received here at The Place. To banging 80's and 90's pop tunes he lays the realities of sexuality, family, and the media bare in this powerful romp, at times singing, sighing, masturbating and writhing in his big black boots and y-fronts.
Ménage a Trois is an enjoyable collection of Clarke’s works; a nostalgic peek into a Pandora’s Box of contemporary dance and the complexities of modern life.