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Garden of Earthly Delights

A Review by Barbara Mehlman and Geri Manus.

This exhausting one-hour program is choreographed to represent the famous three-paneled triptych painted by medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch in 1504, and takes us from Paradise to Hell, stopping in a prolonged purgatory along the way.

From scenes that depict the moment Adam and Eve succumb to temptation, to the Seven Deadly Sins that follow, to the hellish demons that are unleashed upon the world, this is a stunning, if sobering production. The dancers' abilities extend beyond their surreal onstage movements to contrivances of flying above the audience, mocking our existence and showing us the errors of our ways.

Accompanied by discordant musical phrasings, played by musicians dressed as unlikely monks, the dancers intertwine with several partners, indistinguishable from one another. Owing allegiance to none, they take on the symbolic essence of each piece of the painting. The ebb and flow of the dance is punctuated by occasional bursts of hysteria. The more controlled their movements, the more out of control the message becomes.

Barbara Mehlman & Geri Manus

What the press had to say.....

"This singular work of dance theater is without doubt one of the most eerily hypnotic spectacles of flesh in motion ever put on a New York stage." & "Festive it is not, although the work is shot through with moments of strange, startling beauty."
Charles Isherwood
New York Times

"Clarke delivers a seamless 60-minute spectacle that is at once beautiful and horrifying, elegant and vulgar." & "It's the soaring aerial ballets that truly give the evening a phantasmagoric quality you won't soon forget."
Frank Scheck
New York Post

"What impresses most is the work's seamless structure. Certainly Clarke has had much time to hone Garden � it was first performed nearly 25 years ago � but there's a breathtaking vitality to each lazzi. No vignette is stretched to the point where your interest might even begin to wane."
Adam R. Perlman
Back Stage

"The imagery is by turns dreamlike, nightmarish, or disturbingly violent, but always compelling." & "The entire company is exceptional, creating a sex-charged atmosphere of inevitable doom while steadily increasing the tension between themselves."
Jennifer Farrar
Associated Press

"A special thrill for auds famished for visual beauty."
Marilyn Stasio

Originally published on