The Boys are back in Town at The Barbican Theatre, Plymouth
THERE is a touch of a touch of macho rock'n'roll to dance season The Boys Are Back In Town – shades of Thin Lizzy and all that.
As you would expect from a series of productions from male dancer makers there is a lot of energy and strength on show.
However for the man whose work opens the season, both the individual piece and the collection title have a quieter and more personal connection.
Theo Clinkard really is back in town. He grew up in Calstock and he made his big-stage debut at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, one of the city venues for the season, and was an audience regular at another, the Barbican Theatre, when he was young.
His work Ordinary Courage is inspired both by his home and how the community reacted to the death of his mother, Robin.
"She died two and a half years ago and that is partly why I came to this work," says Theo about the piece, which comes to the Barbican Theatre on Friday next week .
"The whole village turned out for her funeral." Robin was a well-known and popular figure in the waterside village who ran a shop and helped set up the Calstock Festival.
"It's a very important reason to come back and bringing a piece of work somewhere where there is a connection is very special," he adds.
Ordinary Courage is Theo's first group work as a choreographer after 17 years as a dancer and designer, working with some of Britain's leading dance makers.
The project he leads – he says he "doesn't feel right" putting his name to the company – has a mixed line-up of performers who have similarly impressive CVs. They and Theo perform accompanied by live piano music.
He was previously in Plymouth at the Theatre Royal in Matthew Bourne's Play Without Words in 2004.
When he was growing up, Theo was regularly in the audience at the Barbican Theatre to see Matthew Bourne productions when the now internationally renowned choreographer was starting out.
Theo's debut was made across town in panto. "I was a 'babe' aged eight in Dick Whittington which starred Anita Harris," he recalls fondly.
"It is great to be coming back now with my first group piece and to have such support from Plymouth Dance." The city organisation that promotes dance is the body behind The Boys Are Back In Town season, which comprises eight shows across four venues and through March.
City and UK companies are taking part, in styles that take in a wide range of contemporary dance, including hip-hop. The internationally acclaimed Hofesh Shechter Company closes the season at the Theatre Royal on March 26 and 27 with two works, Uprising and The Art of Not Looking Back.
Theo's Ordinary Courage is in the middle of a 13-venue UK tour. He has a second South West date at The Performance Centre, Falmouth, on February 9.
After that he is off to the Republic of Ireland for the premiere of his next work, Bow And Arrow, for the Chrysalis company at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, on March 8.
Then it will be back to Sweden where he teaches dance and is a designer for Skanes Dansteater in Malmo.
But his heart is back in Cornwall where, despite a career that has taken in Broadway and the National Theatre London, both with Matthew Bourne. He has never forgotten where his dance journey began.
"I started learning with Brigid Albrechtsen, a ballet teacher in Luckett (near Gunnislake)," he says.
"This was back in the early 1980s, before Billy Elliot – and she had 12 young lads dancing. She was brilliant. It used to be £1 a class – the parents used to try to try to pay her more but she refused."