Dire dance, upbeat creator

Martha Clarke’s sinister “Sandman” creeps in to Phila. starting tomorrow.

By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

As the early-April closing of her New York hit Garden of Earthly Delights loomed, choreographer/director Martha Clarke was bringing a new work to life in Philadelphia with Jeanne Ruddy Dance.

Clarke’s Sandman is the last piece in Ruddy’s three-year guest-choreographer project (the others were by Jane Comfort and Suzanne Linke). Its sinister spareness will contrast starkly with Ruddy’s lighthearted Lark in the program that runs from tomorrow through April 26 at the Performance Garage, Ruddy’s dance space on Brandywine Street.

Clarke says emphatically that she based her imagining of Sandman on the dark photography of Diane Arbus – but visions of Marat/Sade or Ken Russell’s The Devils can just as easily invade a viewer’s mind. Her work restores the medieval through the surreal; she’s drawn to fairy tales and imaginative reveries.