What could account for the extraordinary run on tickets for the British dance group Michael Clark & Company at the Brooklyn Academy’s Next Wave Festival? Partly it’s that they were booked into BAM’s intimate Lepercq Space; but mostly it was the media blitz that preceded them. Clark, whose style is often described in the press as “post-punk,” is a publicist’s dream. His shaved head, blackened lips, and tutu-clad body enliven the pages of countless glossy magazines—most startlingly in an ad for another British import, Rose’s lime juice, where he can be seen reclining, odalisque-fashion, at the feet (more precisely, between the legs) of pre-punk danseuse Ann Miller.

Watching Clark’s ninety-minute offering, No Fire Escape in Hell, I was struck by how difficult it is to be outrageous today, when...


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