Arts: He of the beautiful feet

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The Independent Culture
EVERYBODY LOVES Michael Clark, the beautiful, wayward child of the Royal Ballet whose avant-garde creativity in the mid-Eighties sank into a mire of drugs and excess.

A triumphant comeback in 1992 with Mmm (Michael's Modern Masterpieces) and in 1994 with O gave high hopes of a permanent return to form, both as choreographer and dancer, but a doomed collaboration with the Royal Ballet in 1994 heralded a long period in the wilderness.

Four years later, off methadone, fresh from recuperation in the Scottish village where he grew up, Clark is back on tour with current/SEE.

Any good? Well it may not be vintage stuff, but Clark himself is always a pleasure to watch and the choreography displays his characteristic fusion of ballet training and anarchic modernism.

Clark is joined on stage by Lorena Randi, Dominik Schoetschelthe and the superb ex-London Contemporary and Rambert dancer, Kate Coyne. The company are all taught by Richard Glasstone, veteran choreographer and former Royal Ballet teacher, and this is apparent in their clean lines and careful footwork. Clark, now 36, can still use his beautiful feet with extraordinary eloquence as they skip nimbly through steps harnessed unsettlingly to the furious pulse of the drum.

The music is supplied by Susan Stenger's Big Bottom, a strangely pleasing line-up of drum-kit and five bass guitars that blasts inane riffs in a conscious parody of the heavy metal wall of sound.

The style can stretch from the intense, percussive blast of the surf- rockers to a surly minimalist monotone. At one point during the first half of the programme Clark lay prone before a speaker and was slowly kicked into life by a blast of sound - like Mary Shelley's monster being zapped with lightning.

By the end of the show the audience know the feeling: the five speakers form a mini-Stonehenge create amplification that gives you a fuzzy feeling in your chest as your ribcage reverberates to the acoustic assault; a whole-body response to welcome back the fallen angel of the dance.

Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (01227 787787) and touring

Louise Levene