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V&A Dundee launches exhibition honouring legendary ‘ballet punk’ dancer and choreographer Michael Clark

Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, dubbed the ‘David Bowie of dance’, is the star of a new exhibition at the V&A Dundee.

The museum will host an exhibit spanning Clark’s 40-year career in performing arts.

Aberdeen-born Clark is an icon of post-punk art performance, creating transgressive dance pieces since the early 1980s.

Visitors view images of dancers. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Visitors view images of dancers. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Expressive dance images. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Expressive dance images. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

The CBE honouree joined the Royal Ballet School in London at only 13 years old and set up his own, eponymous dance company at 22.

Clark’s work incorporated the aesthetics of post-punk, classical ballet, club culture and visual art.

Detail from the Leigh Bowery BodyMap Stevie Stewart costumes room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Detail from the Leigh Bowery BodyMap Stevie Stewart costumes room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Costume design displayed in the Leigh Bowery BodyMap Stevie Stewart costumes room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Costume design displayed in the Leigh Bowery BodyMap Stevie Stewart costumes room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
The exhibition continues in the Trojan The Fall Cerith Wyn Evans room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
The exhibition continues in the Trojan The Fall Cerith Wyn Evans room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

The new installation will feature key performances from Clark’s career, including Because We Must (1987) and I Am Curious, Orange (1988).

The exhibition is a multimedia project taking in Clark’s work across dance, film, fashion, design and sculpture, along with rare archival footage of Clark’s interviews and performances.

Throughout his career, Clark has collaborated with David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker, club kid artist Leigh Bowery, avant-garde filmmaker Peter Greenaway and Russian ballet icon Mikhail Baryshnikov.

The exhibition includes dance photography. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
The exhibition includes dance photography. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Staff wear hoodies for the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Staff wear hoodies for the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Artwork from the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Artwork from the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

The exhibit is organised by the Barbican, London, and will run from March 5 until September 4.

Students from Dundee and Angus College and Glasgow Clyde College will be holding new dance workshops around the museum.

The workshops will be led by Matthew Hawkins and Dawn Hartley, former dancers at Clark’s dance company.

Andi Brogan, a student dancer from Dundee and Angus College, dances by the Charles Atlas multi-screen film installation. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Andi Brogan, a student dancer from Dundee and Angus College, dances by the Charles Atlas multi-screen film installation. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Andi Brogan at the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Andi Brogan at the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

The exhibit is also being run in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, and will hold workshops for people living with or caring for those affected by the disease.

Leonie Bell, director of the V&A, said: “Michael Clark remains hugely relevant today, challenging convention and reflecting the energy of the world around him, with ideas around gender and sexuality explored in breathtakingly beautiful performances.

“For me, Michael Clark is the David Bowie of dance, an inventor who with grace and energy has found new ways for us all to enjoy and be inspired by dance.”

Visitors view the exhibits in the Sarah Lucas room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Visitors view the exhibits in the Sarah Lucas room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Artworks by Sarah Lucas. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Artworks by Sarah Lucas. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Dance photographs from the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Dance photographs from the Michael Clark exhibition. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Digital displays in the Charles Atlas room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.
Digital displays in the Charles Atlas room. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

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