Dance is hard to see *

In the new issue of Kaleidoscope I came across an article on the new work of the dancer Michael Clark & his company and trying to find out more … just discovered these elder ones ..

It is in attitude quite close to traditional ballet, though refreshingly breaking down boundaries … crossing into and playing in and with the field of popular culture. These movies are already a bit elder or/and highly edited, but still real fun to watch and worth knowing:

Shivering Man / Coreography Michael Clark

(excerpted) ….. Early on, Clark’s work made visible, often satirically, the clash of worlds between the refined space of the ballet academy (he trained with the Royal Ballet) and his ordinary life outside of ballet, crossing over into the post-punk 1980s scene. The Charles Atlas fantasydocumentary, Hail the New Puritans (1984–85), splices footage of Clark’s choreography, featuring dancers in cheeky butt-cheek-revealing leotards and face paint, with Michael and friends (notably, Leigh Bowery) attired in outlandish costumes, dancing in a club or walking London’s grimy streets. In the film, London’s Chisenhale Dance Studio is re-cast as Michael’s loft apartment, and through Atlas’s playful vision, we see him practically dance his way out of bed before joining in a group routine.

“Copped It” by The Fall / Coreography Michael Clark

Such an idea of the blurring of art and life was a playful one—and one that Clark, too, has drawn upon in his choreography—but the film’s irreverent subcultural exterior masked Clark’s truly alternative approach to the notion of art’s embeddedness in the everyday. Although the studio connotes a sense of remove from the outside world, from everyday life—whether from the ordinary movements of walking or running or carrying things that Steve Paxton, Rainer, or Simone Forti put on stage in the 1960s, or indeed from the dance moves of the 1980s nightclub scene—practice accumulates as a facility that becomes rooted in the practitioner’s body; as a manner of being. While Rainer conceptualized the mind as a muscle in deadpan terms, attempting to submerge the anxiety of analytic thought in straightforward physical activity, Clark’s dance practice is grounded in a ritual that pushes the movements it incorporates into a space that precedes thinking.

The Fall and Michael Clark

For the artist, this means that the daily repetition of the studio is taken for granted prior to thinking about what to do and what to make. In other words, creative process follows from physical training and physical capacity. Such pre-conscious immersion in a discipline is the opposite of Baldessari’s self-aware and witty video showing himself assuming a series of different positions, I am making art (1971), or indeed from Ryan McNamara’s recent work, Make Ryan a Dancer, in which McNamara “tried on” a wide variety of dance styles, from hip-hop to salsa to striptease, throughout a three-month period. The practice of going through the same motions repeatedly lends the practitioner a different form of art-into-life: formal fluency. For Clark and his dancers, the discipline of dance is assimilated through their bodies to such a degree that the learned forms and movements are a part of the dancers as a latent, organic capacity, even when they are walking down the street. ….. (>>>> continue reading)

* Yvonne Rainer
.. more to watch on youtube/Michael Clark

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