Page last updated at 23:41 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 00:41 UK

Dance rebel inspired by 'Heroes'

By Nicola Stanbridge
BBC news

NEW WORK (dancer Simon Williams)
The new work is set to the music of David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop

Dancer and choreographer Michael Clark trained classically at the Royal Ballet school in the 70s but went on to create ground-breaking and controversial works of modern dance.

The Scottish dancer is performing at the Edinburgh International Festival, for the first time in 20 years, in a new work set to the music of David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, or the holy trinity as he describes them.

Costumes involve over-size hypodermic needles sticking out of body stockings and bright, revealing silver leggings.

Dancers open up against a projection of David Bowie in his 1977 video for Heroes.

Working chainsaws

"Bowie, black leather bomber-jacket, one light behind him. Iconic is the word I would use," said 47-year-old Clark.

"He has said himself that he feels like the work is only complete when there is a performance, because it seems to lend itself so well.

"I know that working with an amplified image projected is always going to be a struggle for the audience and their attention. That is why I took it on board."

Mr Clark's audiences are used to being challenged.

He has had ballet dancers teetering around on stage with working chainsaws and he clearly revelled in combining dance, ballet and the music of Mark E Smith's band The Fall on several occasions.

Now the Aberdeen-born dancer is honouring his holy trinity.

"Dance, for me, has helped me transcend things about my background," he said, adding: "The kind of transcendence I found in the performances of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie, in their music.

NEW WORK (dancers on pointe)
Clark's dancers combine classical ballet and contemporary dance

"I saw David Bowie on Top of the Pops. I saw him put his arm around Mick Ronson and I immediately thought, 'my goodness, man can have physical contact which is not violent'.

"That shocked and thrilled me."

He added: "It will be interesting for me to work with music from the Velvet Underground, from an earlier period, which definitely influenced Bowie.

"It is less accessible. Challenging in a different way."

Clark said he had never seen another performer move like Iggy Pop.

"I have tried myself, and hurt myself on many occasions trying," he said.

"I love to see that kind of abandon."

After studying with the Royal Ballet Clark joined the contemporary Rambert company, reinvigorating dance, bringing in fashion designers and artists.

He is also known for his portrayal of Caliban in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's books.

Michael Clark: New Work is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from Friday to Monday 31 August.

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