Famed “punk” ballerino and choreographer Michael Clark presented his new ballet program inspired by and including music from David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed last month for Venice’s Dance Biennale; he and his company will also perform in Edinburgh, Stockholm, Paris and London in coming months.
Interestingly, for those of us more attuned to the music world rather than the dance sphere, Clark has a long history of incorporating his favorite music into dance: “I remember playing the Sex Pistols to my ballet teacher, he said: ‘But it’s so …’ – what’s the opposite of subtle – ‘blatant’. And I remember saying, ‘Yes, but it was meant to be direct’. I think my work’s probably more subtle now.” And if you know anything about Clark’s previous work (onstage sex, incorporating chainsaws, dildos and toilet seats into his performances, among other things), you’d probably agree.
Clark compares the three musical legends to equally legendary danseurs: “This is a similar trilogy for me, Lou Reed, Bowie and Iggy Pop. I guess Iggy Pop would be [Vaslav] Nijinsky, Lou Reed might be [Bronislava] Nijinska. Would Bowie be [George] Balanchine? No, I think not. Anyway. It was, you know, that idea. I’m actually wholeheartedly enjoying working with this music, I’m thrilled that I’ve been given permission to.”
So what songs did these guys permit for use in Clark’s rock ballet? His last installment, Thank U Ma’am (the titles change week-to-week), included Pop and Bowie’s “Mass Production” from The Idiot, the Bowie/Eno hit “Heroes,” Bowie’s “The Jean Genie,” Diamond Dogs spoken word opening track “Future Legend,” Diamond Dogs closer “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family,” and more.
Oh, just a couple throwaways from Berlin in the late 70s. I kid.