It’s not very often that anyone shared a stage with David Bowie and found themselves becoming the main focus of attention. But this did happen in 1988 when Bowie collaborated with Québec based contemporary dance group La La La Human Steps and performed with their lead dancer Louise Lecavalier, before launching into Look Back in Anger and being replaced on dancing duties by another member of the troupe, Donald Weikert.

Lithe, surprisingly strong and with striking bleached white hair, Lecavalier specialised in hurling her body around the stage, flinging herself against – and on top of – her dance partners, and regularly showcasing her trademark sideways barrel jumps. Chris Roberts in Melody Maker, called her as ‘the most tragically brilliant dancer alive today.’

Bowie was making some dreadful artistic decisions around this time, but this pairing up was one of his better ideas. Image-wise, this is a far from high-definition video but it is an essential watch:

When La La La Human Steps announced that they were coming to Glasgow to play the rather posh Theatre Royal, I snapped up a ticket. Until then my only encounter with modern dance was seeing Michael Clark doing his thang once with The Fall but it’s good to get out your comfort zone once in a while and I ended up transfixed by their brand of highly physical dance. I’m pretty sure I even must have gasped in amazement more than once during their frenetic, fearless and gravity defying routines. They all must have woken up the next morning bruised, exhausted and with aching bones.

I bet they all have dodgy knees and hips nowadays.

After seeing La La La Human Steps’ Human Sex duo no 1 in 1987, Bowie wanted them to be part of his Glass Spider tour though scheduling conflicts didn’t permit this but in 1990, he coaxed the company’s choreographer Édouard Lock to act as the artistic director on his Sound+Vision tour. Throughout the 100+ dates, video recordings of Louise Lecavalier in action were screened behind the band. Some shows, such as the one staged at the Montreal Forum, also saw members of La La La Human Steps joining Bowie onstage.

‘You’ve never seen anything like them before,’ he enthused to Elle. ‘It’s where punk and ballet clash with each other.’

Lecavalier also appeared in the video for Fame ’90, shot by Gus Van Sant hot on the heels of his success with Drugstore Cowboy.

Fame ’90, it would have to be admitted, was an entirely unnecessary reworking of a song that was never going to be improved upon, another of those poor artistic choices mentioned earlier. This substandard incarnation of the classic also appeared on the Pretty Woman soundtrack. Oh dear.

Good video, though.

For more on Louise Lecavalier, click here.