Saturday, January 29, 2011

David Byrne: Ride, Rise, Roar. The Michael Clark Company: come, been and gone.

Two very different dance productions came to Manchester this month. On Thursday 20th January we went to see ‘Ride, Rise, Roar’. This was a film about David Byrne’s tour a couple of years ago and was different in that he had three dancers animating his songs during each concert. Unfortunately, the showing at the Imax in Manchester was very badly advertised and only a handful of people turned up to watch it. Besides the Byrne classics there was some newer material which was very different and exciting. The dancers made a huge difference to the performance. At the end of the film we were ushered to a different screen in the complex for a live satellite link-up where we watched a question and answer session with David Byrne and Stuart McClunie. This was much shorter than we were told it would be by the cinema staff and McClunie only let one member of the audience in London ask one question while he asked loads. He seemed ill at ease with the whole interview and was disappointing. David Byrne, looking as youthful as ever despite the white hair, was much more amenable, probably because he had nothing to prove.

The second event was the Michael Clark Company’s ‘come, been and gone’ at The Lowri on Friday 28th January. This was an amazing show. The first dance under the heading ‘gone’ was from ‘Swamp’ a revival from the 1990s set to pulsating, electronic music by Wire and Bruce Gilbert. This was perhaps my favourite section of the night. The four other sections were set to music by Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Kraftwerk and above all David Bowie. Of course,the interpretation of Bowie’s more popular numbers such as Heroes and The Jean Genie went down a storm. The costumes were mostly by Stevie Stewart. The dancers were Kate Coyn, Melissa Hetherington, (both of whom teach for the Company) Oxana Panchenko, Brooke Smiley, Harry Alexander, Simon Williams and Benjamin Warbis.
This was the kind of performance you could watch many times and experience something different each time. With up to seven dancers on stage, plus the music and sometimes back projection, there is so much to take in that a very enjoyable sensory overload occurs. It was uplifting, it was fabulous. From androgynous costumes to complement Bowie’s music, to a figure stuck with hypodermics while Lou Reed sang about heroin, there was a very powerful connection between costumes and movement and sound.
The dancers rightly received several long curtain calls from the packed house. A whole new performance will premier in London in June. Not to be missed.