Dance review: Michael Clark: The Barrowlands Project

A large-scale community dance project has been staged at Glasgow's Barrowlands ballroom as a finale to the London 2012 cultural programme.''The event was specially created by Scottish choreographer Michael Clark.''The Barrowlands Project featured local people as performers alongside professional dancers from Scotland and members of Mr Clark's dance company.''The participants in the project have recorded their experiences of working on it on a dedicated website.
A large-scale community dance project has been staged at Glasgow's Barrowlands ballroom as a finale to the London 2012 cultural programme.''The event was specially created by Scottish choreographer Michael Clark.''The Barrowlands Project featured local people as performers alongside professional dancers from Scotland and members of Mr Clark's dance company.''The participants in the project have recorded their experiences of working on it on a dedicated website.
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This was always going to be special. The closing weekend of London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad needed to reflect the success of the games as a whole, and go out with a bang. Which could easily have been a big performance, shouting loud but saying little.

Michael Clark: The Barrowlands Project

Barrowland, Glasgow

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Instead, they asked Michael Clark to take on the challenge, resulting in a refined, technically stunning and intelligent piece of dance, layered with joyful community involvement.

Opening with almost 50 local performers – some of whom had never danced before – Barrowland’s wooden floor was once again home to a sea of dancing feet. Dressed in stylish black kilts, they delivered Clark’s complex but enjoyable choreography, the concentration visible on their faces.

Yet this was no reflection of their amateur status – when Clark’s own dancers replaced them on stage, the need for focus shone in their eyes, too.

Nothing Clark creates demands anything less than complete commitment, which is why his movement is so endlessly fascinating to watch. Every twist of the hand, lift of the arm, stretch of the leg compels you to see where he’s going next. Not just with his eight hugely talented professional dancers, but with the show’s overall concept.

Each corner of this legendary space was carefully considered and beautifully used. While time and again, the ever-changing lighting and costume design took us somewhere new. Until finally, we were left with an empty stage flanked by eight bagpipe players.

A fitting finale not just to the work, but the entire London 2012 Festival.