Dancers in metallic orange cat suits, faces pressing to the floor, hips cocked, triangulated legs in static raises as David Bowie’s thrashing guitar rains down the ear-bleedingly loud final chord of The Jean Genie. Light cuts. And the audience, cheering, exuberantly applauds the end of Come, Been and Gone, Michael Clark’s newest work in front of a packed out Barbican last night. The dancers take their curtain calls. Clark himself is in the wings.
The punk ballet master’s absence is a reminder of the darkness we’d just seen before this explosive finale. Dancer Kate Coyne had only minutes before contorted, writhed and staggered in a remarkable body suit pierced with bouncing syringes accompanied by The Velvet Underground’s Heroin.
Clark’s own wrestling with drug addiction is well known. Were we watching biography? If so, Clark is in a much brighter place now, exuberantly reconnecting to his Puck-like self from the mid1980s. His own brief legato presence was muted and shadow-like. Yet Simon Williams and Nathan Cornwall with Clark’s jerky, juddering, stiff-armed choreography are baton bearers of his younger electrifying self.
In the row behind me were Jarvis Cocker, DJs Princess Julia and Jeffrey Hinton and Pop magazine editor, Ashley Heath. Clark’s showmanship and membership of the demimonde have always graced his shows with the best ballet audience in town. And if the music and dancing didn’t grab you urgently enough, those were Peter Doig paintings suspended over the screen at the back of the stage.