Michael Clark was born in Scotland and trained at the Royal Ballet School in London (1975 -1979). In 1979 joined Ballet Rambert, working primarily with Richard Alston. Later, attending a summer school with Merce Cunningham and John Cage led him to work with Karole Armitage, through whom he met Charles Atlas.
The first concert of his own choreography was in 1982 at London’s Riverside Studios, where he became resident choreographer. By 1984 Clark had made 16 original pieces.
Michael Clark and Company was launched in 1984. The company was an immediate success and toured internationally. During this time Clark collaborated with fashion designers Bodymap, artists Leigh Bowery and Trojan, as well as The Fall, Laibach, and Wire.
Clark’s commissions for major dance companies include the G.R.C.O.P., The Paris Opera, Scottish Ballet, London Festival Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Phoenix Dance Company and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Clark has produced considerable work for film and video, including Hail the New Puritan (1984) and Because We Must (1989) with Charles Atlas. He also choreographed and danced the role of Caliban in Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books (1991).
After three years of commissions and solo work he created the original version of Mmm… (1992) and O (1994). In 1998 he presented a new full-length work, current/SEE, in collaboration with Susan Stenger, Simon Pearson, Big Bottom, and Hussein Chalayan which became the subject of a BBC documentary directed by Sophie Fiennes, The Late Michael Clark.
Before and After: The Fall (2001) was Clark’s first major collaboration with the visual artist Sarah Lucas. In 2003 Clark created the first Satie Stud for William Trevitt of George Piper Dances, produced an evening entitled Would, Should, Can, Did, for the Barbican Theatre in London, and choreographed a solo for Mikhail Baryshnikov. In the same year, OH MY GODDESS opened London Dance Umbrella’s 25th anniversary season. In 2004 Rambert Dance Company revived SWAMP, which received the Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production.
In 2005 Michael Clark became an Artistic Associate of the Barbican Centre, London, and embarked on the Stravinsky Project, a three-year project to produce a trilogy of works to seminal dance scores by Igor Stravinsky. He radically reworked O and Mmm… for this project, and in 2007 he premiered the final part of the trilogy, I Do. The Stravinsky Project had its US premiere at the Lincoln Center, New York in June 2008. In June 2009 Clark premiered 'come, been and gone' at La Biennale di Venezia. This work has toured nationally and internationally for the past five years to great critical acclaim including to Edinburgh International Festival, the Barbican, London, Melbourne International Arts Festival and the legendary Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 2015. In 2012 a new theatrical work premiered at the Barbican, London amongst other international venues, and in 2013 this work was extended into the triple bill ‘animal / vegetable / mineral’ and has been presented at The Lowry, again at the Barbican, and Norfolk & Norwich Festival in England. The show has also toured to Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Italy and Brazil.
Clark has also undertaken several large-scale projects in non-theatre spaces including museums and galleries. In 2010 the company spent the summer in residence at Tate Modern, London in preparation a new, large-scale performance commission for the Turbine Hall. The production th premiered in June 2011, and in 2012 Michael Clark presented WHO’S ZOO? a specially commissioned piece for the Whitney Biennial in New York as well as The Barrowlands Project in Glasgow, part of the London 2012 Festival.
In 2011 Robert Gordon University Aberdeen conferred on Michael Clark an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts (Hon DArt) in recognition of his distinguished career in the field of choreography and dance, and the first monograph on Michael Clark, celebrating the whole of his career to date, from the late 70s to the present was published by Violette Editions. Clark was awarded a CBE for services to Dance in the Queen’s birthday honours in June 2014.