Dance Magazine Award Spotlight: Martha Clarke

December 5, 2013

Two years ago, choreographer Martha Clarke compared her career to an Advent calendar. “For each project I try and open a new door,” she said. “Any time I get a chance to try something that I’ve never done before, that’s the only reason I’ll do it.” For more than three decades, Clarke has been pushing the envelope with her visionary dance-theater works. She was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow in 1990, and she has received two Drama Desk Awards as well as the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement in 2010. On Monday December 9, Clarke will be one of five distinguished artists to receive a 2013 Dance Magazine Award. Charles Reinhart, ADF’s former director, will present the award.


It’s a big week for Clarke—her newest work, Chéri (now in previews), opens Tuesday December 10. Based on the stories by French author Colette, the piece stars Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo. Chéri will run through December 29 at The Signature Theater in New York City, where Clarke is an artist in residence. Here’s a video about the making of the work:



Clarke may be best known for her 1984 work Garden of Earthly Delights, based on the classic triptych painting by Hieronymous Bosch. She revived the piece in 2008 at ADF, and it subsequently ran off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theater for five months. Take a look at the short trailer below:



Over the years, ADF has commissioned many works from Clarke, including her evening-length work Angel Reapers (2011), a collaboration with Academy Award-winner Alfred Uhry. In the video below, the two talk about their process. You can see clips of the piece, based on the Shaker movement, in this video—a promotional trailer for its Joyce Theater premiere.



Clarke has also worked with dancers and actors internationally, creating and setting work on companies including Nederlands Dans Theater, The Royal National Theatre in London, the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Rambert. Click here to watch a short video that follows Clarke in the early stages of creating a new piece at ADF—and see her setting the finished product, L’altra metà del cielo, on two dancers of La Scala Opera in Milan, Italy (below).




The 2013 Dance Magazine Awards, which will also honor Philip Glass, Martha Clarke, Mats Ek, Patricia Wilde and Yuan Yuan Tan, will be held December 9 at the  The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC. The ceremony is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or [email protected].

La Scala in Ital