In this piece, Michael Clark buddies up with Jarvis Cocker, bringing to the Barbican a company of dancers to present and explore his experimental, spontaneous imagination. Clark uses the simplicity of the first half as an introduction to the explosive second, showing the sincere skill, control and elegance each dancer posesses.
Throughout the first half, the staging is sparse as the audience watch moves that are universally recognised, accompanied by lyrically enchanting songs from Scritti Politti’s album White Bread Black Beer. The emptiness of the space means the entire focus is on what are essentially basic moves – but they are perfectly pulled off.
The audience is mesmerized by the end of the first act, and intrigued to watch the second. The same signature fluidity appears, this time with a rockier, jagged anthem sung live by an electrifying Jarvis Cocker. Decorated as a zombie, he interacts with both dancers and audience, intensifying the piece and bringing passion to the show. Cocker fronts the electro band Relaxed Muscle, playing his alter ego Darren Spooner. The second half is much busier – using strobe, all-in-one retro patterned leotards, and reflective stools – but the company don’t lose their cool or grace, and remain driven and powerful. Julie Cunningham, with her shaven head and slender body, shines through particularly.
The asexual costumes and call-and-response interactions make the piece surprisingly easy to relate to, and very human. Charles Clark’s flawless lighting design sets off the piece well, and the whole production team seems to run like clockwork. Michael Clark maintains his identity as a choreographer – and we feel he has chosen music he genuinely likes – whilst still appealing to and moving with his audience. The piece is modern, chic and a feast to watch, a spectacle that’s not to be missed.
Michael Clark: New Work 2012 is playing at the Barbican Theatre until 27 October. For more information and tickets, see the Barbican website.