Yorkshire Life : 2020-10-01

50 : 50 : 50


Award-winning COAL is one of several shows Gary has choreograp­hed unlikely beginnings he’s become an award-winning dancer, choreograp­her and artistic director, whose work has been seen in some of the UK’s most prestigiou­s dance and theatre houses including The Barbican Centre, The Royal Opera House and The Southbank Centre. His CV is long and varied, but highlights include spending a decade with dance company The Cholmondel­eys & The Feathersto­nehaughs (led by maverick choreograp­her Lea Anderson), and touring the world with Matthew Bourne’s iconic allmale version of Swan Lake. As a choreograp­her Clarke has been massively in demand, working on production­s to commemorat­e the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – including The Opening Ceremony for the arrival of The Olympic Torch in Leeds – plus shows for Opera North, Sky Arts and Hull City of Culture 2017. He also created COAL, an award-winning large-scale touring show to mark the 30th anniversar­y of the end of the 1984/85 miners’ strike. His most recent project is with the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfie­ld, choreograp­hing one third of a digital dance triple bill called Locked down. Locked in. But living. It will be streamed online from September 28th. The Lawrence Batley has a special place in Clarke’s heart because it was here, aged 16, he saw contempora­ry dance for the first time, performed by an all-male dance troupe, The Feathersto­nehaughs. ‘That moment really stuck with me and inspired me,’ says Clarke. ‘After graduating from the Northern School of Contempora­ry Dance, I was lucky enough to join the Feathersto­nehaughs and perform with them at the Lawrence Batley Theatre. What’s more, it was that same piece that had inspired me as a teenager. It was like coming full circle.’ Not that Clarke simply breezed into his career. In his first year of formal training, the enormous discipline required to become a profession­al dancer nearly derailed him. ‘For me, dance was about He took notice and, by the second year, he was flying. ‘I feel very lucky that I had such amazing tutors, friends and colleagues to keep me on track,’ he says. ‘Because lots of my friends from Grimethorp­e didn’t stay on track. A lot of them are in prison, and some of them are dead because of crime and drugtaking.’ Dance and movement has offered Clarke incredible career opportunit­ies. More recently, he’s been working as a movement coach on big budget Hollywood blockbuste­rs with the likes of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise and Eddie Redmayne. ‘A friend of mine was a movement director on World War Z, a zombie film starring Brad Pitt, and asked me to come on board. The director wanted the zombies to have a high level of physicalit­y and didn’t want to use CGI or special effects. I worked ABOVE: Gary Clarke’s love of dance has seen him excel in his career If Gary Clarke sounds like the real Billy Elliot, that’s because he is. He’s become an award-winning dancer, choreograp­her and artistic director, whose work has been seen in some of the UK’s most prestigiou­s dance and theatre houses escapism, and emotion. It was a coping mechanism. It was about thrashing around, energy and a lack of control, not standing at a ballet barre and having a teacher tell you what to do. I was taken aside and it was explained to me that underneath it all there’s a technique and a skill that I’d have to learn if I wanted a career.’ 50 Yorkshire Life: October 2020 Š

© PressReader. All rights reserved.