John Clarke of Redland Dance in Cleveland is choreographer to Matilda

By Linda MullerNovember 30 2016 

Redland Dance director John Clarke returns home this week, bringing with him his Matilda family and a labour of love.

Mr Clarke is the resident choreographer for Matilda, a position which has seen him living in Melbourne since July.

Matilda will be staged at QPAC until February 12.

“All the dancers come under my umbrella. It is my job to uphold the integrity of the original choreography. It also needs to be safe on stage so the dancers have to do their warm ups and be communicating freely about their physical health,” he said.

Mr Clarke was headhunted for the job after working with the show’s director Louise Withers on We Will Rock You in 2003.

It was this show that brought him and his wife Rebecca to Australia which they would ultimately make their home.

Both have an impressive international resume, having met in the West End production of Saturday Night Fever. John Clarke has also starred in Evita on West End with Rebecca dancing at the Lido in Paris.

The Clarke’s moved to the Redlands to be closer to the water and good schools. They ultimately purchased the Redland Dance school at Cleveland from dancing colleague and friend Boris Bivona.

“We had a kinship through dance. My daughter learned there and when I told her that Boris would no longer be her teacher, she suggested we buy it. Boris was chuffed that his school would go to someone who would value it as much as he,” Mr Clarke said.

Mr Clarke said that working on a show again was like “a comfy pair of slippers”.

“I love theatre. I love it that everyone works with the common purpose of making the best show they can for an audience and they pour their work into seeing that happen on a daily basis. I like being part of that team and serving the story we are telling,” he said.

Mr Clarke said he had been approached often to choreograph shows.

“I wouldn’t have left my family for just any show. This one is quite special,” he said.

The show involves working with a cast of 29 children in each State.

“The work these children do is just breathtaking. This is a show that everyone should come and see.  It’s inspiring,” he said.

To that end, he has organised a Redland Dance excursion to see Matilda.

“It is good for the dancers to see the level you can reach if you put in the ridiculous amount of work that these children do.  It really is quite impressive,” he said.

Former Redland Dance student Dani Bilios, formerly of Redland Bay is also in the show as girl ensemble dance captain and swing.

This article was originally published in the Redland City Bulletin

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