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August 17, 2006

R.I.P Clark Reid

The first item a few days ago in the links section at Ballet Talk was one I really did not want to see – Clark Reid’s obituary in the Louisville Courier-Journal - the city where he had a long career as a principal dancer in the Louisville Ballet. There is a second obituary with a photo, guest book, and condolences in the Salt Lake Tribune; he had danced with Ballet West before going to Kentucky.

Clark and I knew each other informally as occasional ‘net buddies way back when on alt.arts.ballet and he invited me to participate in the Choreographer’s Showcase at Louisville Ballet in 2002. He was a decent man who kept his word, honest and passionate to a fault. He treated me very fairly, and assembled a cast of dancers for me that was better than the one I could have picked myself.

I think I only saw Clark dance once, back in 1990 when I was dancing in Lexington and went to Louisville to see their company. He danced in Antony Tudor’s Echoing of Trumpets, playing the resistance fighter who gets hanged. When I mentioned it to him, he wrote back,

When I thought I had done just about everything on stage, I get bound, hung upside down and shot. And then dragged around in a pas de deux.
Typical Clark.

Clark’s great role was Billy the Kid. I asked to see the ballet while I was in Louisville, all they had was an archive tape shot in wide angle, but I got to see it. Clark excelled in character parts from a vanishing repertory, Billy or Mac in Filling Station.

Clark posted infrequently on Ballet Talk, but once when I asked him he wrote about Billy (look for the post by "cerky") and his approach to the role. He jokes about not being much of a writer, but you can see his understanding was the deep instinct of a performer – he didn’t analyze a role; he experienced and lived it.

He was a beloved teacher but there was so much he could have taught. 51 was way too young to go.

Posted by Leigh Witchel at August 17, 2006 11:21 PM

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I am not a dancer but i knew Clark from my wife who worked with him at the Lousiville Ballet. She was the stage manager and i saw and talked to Clark a lot back then. He was an awsome dancer and an awsomely nice person. I remember once when the ballet went on the road to owensboro KY. It rained a record amount and the program was cancelled on-stage because the roof was leaking very badly. Roads began to close around us and the company was put up in the hotel for the night. i was there and had a really bad attack of asthma. i had forgotten to bring my inhaler and was feeling pretty badly. Clark knew what was going on and offered me to use his. Not many people are that observant and nice. I know there's lots cooler things people will have to say so i'll shut up for now but he really was a very very nice person and died way to soon.

Posted by: kevin at August 24, 2006 4:21 PM

I'm glad to hear more about Clark. I also felt a bit silly posting because I didn't know him as well as others. When someone is gone, though, every recollection is precious. Thanks.

Posted by: Leigh Witchel at August 25, 2006 11:15 PM

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