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V&A Dundee will next year show the first ever major exhibition on Michael Clark, the groundbreaking Scottish dancer and choreographer, curated and organised by Barbican Centre, London. Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer will run from 30 October 2021 to 6 February 2022.

Michael Clark was born in Aberdeen in 1962 and began traditional Scottish dancing at the age of four. In 1975 he left home to study at the Royal Ballet School in London. As a young choreographer, Clark brought together his classical ballet training with London’s punk, fashion and club culture to establish himself as one of the most innovative artists working in contemporary dance.

Film, photography, and material from Clark’s practice will be presented alongside his legendary collaborations across visual arts, music, fashion and film presenting him as an innovator and defining cultural figure who has introduced contemporary dance to a wide audience.

Michael Clark is a truly remarkable creative force, who as a dancer and choreographer has challenged and redefined the limits of dance, its relationship to design and its place in contemporary culture.

Leonie Bell, incoming Director of V&A Dundee, said: “Michael Clark is a truly remarkable creative force, who as a dancer and choreographer has challenged and redefined the limits of dance, its relationship to design and its place in contemporary culture. “I am delighted to be looking forward to such a rich programme of major exhibitions at V&A Dundee, from Mary Quant to Night Fever and now Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer. This is an incredibly exciting time to be joining the team and having seen the joy of the museum recently reopening I can’t wait to get started.”

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts at Barbican, said: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with V&A Dundee to bring Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer to Scotland in October 2021, following the Barbican’s much-anticipated run from October 2020 to January 2021. “One of the UK’s most influential choreographers and performers, Scottish-born Clark became an Artistic Associate at the Barbican Centre in 2005.

“Embraced by audiences both in the UK and on tour around the world, Clark’s electrifying contribution to the worlds of art, music and fashion is explored and celebrated in this inspiring exhibition, including works by a range of his most important collaborators and never before seen material from Clark’s archive.”

This exhibition, one of the largest surveys ever dedicated to a living choreographer, presents a comprehensive story of Clark’s career to date and development as a pioneer of contemporary dance who challenged the furthest intersections of dance, life and art through a union of ballet technique and punk culture.

Films, sculptures, paintings and photographs by his collaborators across visual art, music and fashion are exhibited alongside rare archival material, placing Clark within the wider cultural context of his time.

The exhibition’s large selection of archival film documentation focuses on Clark’s work with filmmakers (Peter Greenaway, Derek Jarman), fashion designers (Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Gucci) and musicians (Scritti Politti, Laibach, Bruce Gilbert from Wire). The archive also displays a selection of interviews with Clark, as well as the documentary The Late Michael Clark (2001) by filmmaker Sophie Fiennes and the recent BBC recording of Clark’s to a simple, rock ‘n’ roll . . . song. (2016) set to the music of Erik Satie, Patti Smith and David Bowie.

Michael Clark: Cosmic Dancer is curated by Florence Ostende. It will be first shown at Barbican Art Gallery from 7 October 2020 to 3 January 2021. V&A Dundee’s Project Curator is Charlotte Hale. 

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