Hail the New Puritan

1985-86, 84:47 min, color, sound, 16 mm film on video

Exuberant and witty, Hail the New Puritan is a simulated day-in-the-life "docufantasy" starring the British dance celebrity Michael Clark. Atlas' fictive portrait of the charismatic choreographer serves as a vivid invocation of the studied decadence of the 1980s post-punk London subculture. Contriving a faux cinéma-vérité format in which to stage his stylized fiction, Atlas seamlessly integrates Clark's extraordinary dance performances into the docu-narrative flow. Focusing on Clark's flamboyantly postured eroticism and the artifice of his provocative balletic performances, Atlas posits the dance as a physical manifestation of Clark's psychology. From the surreal opening dream sequence to the final solo dance, Clark's milieu of fashion, clubs and music signifies for Atlas "a time capsule of a certain period and context in London that's now gone."

Director/Editor: Charles Atlas. Choreography: Michael Clark. Dancers: Gaby Agis, Leslie Bryant (Les Child), Michael Clark, Matthew Hawkins, Julie Hood, Ellen van Schuylenburch. With: Leigh Bowery, Nicola Bowery, Michael Clark, Anthony Doughty, Mark E. Smith, Brix Smith, Sue Tilley. Music: Glenn Branca, The Fall, Bruce Gilbert, Jeffrey Hinton. Camera: John Simmons. Producer: Jolyon Wimhurst. Special Thanks: Dave Baby, Chisenhale Dance Space, The Clarendon, R.K. Studios, Henry Stein.


This is a video transfer of a work initially shot on film. This is best shown as a projection, to reflect the original medium.
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