His heart still dances among the stars


     Have you ever wondered whatever happened to that little boy on a favorite TV commercial or the nine-year old girl that could sing soprano like a nightingale? Tony Clark was one of these gifted youngsters that danced his way into hearts of many on a grand scale. Born to cultured Norwegian parents, Tony learned at a very early age the significance of visual and performing arts.  It is a life that has embraced him for more than four decades and created a master of dance, choreography, music and visual arts.

     Raised in Montecito, California, Clark accompanied his parents to classical music concerts and ballet. His mother was a financial ambassador to Russia and his father, the owner of a centuries-old family transportation business of importing and exporting ships. The family’s focus on life was the beauty found in all segments of the fine arts and not on the framework of immediate material gratification so often found in America. Tony attributes his upbringing to his love of being an educator to children. He began the first Arts Program for the Unified School District of Irvine, California and has conducted many classes for kids at the Barnsdall Art Park and Theater.

     “I think I love working with children because their minds are so formative. I want them to be exposed to the arts and to love them as I did.  I started dancing and performing at three years old. “At four, I did my first commercial and I also won a national prize for a fairly large watercolor that I created,” said Clark. “When I curate, I always try to include some art that children can relate too also.”

     Clark serves on the Board of Trustees of the Hollywood Arts Council that helps keep Barnsdall Art Park alive as well as S.O.A.R., a program that brings the arts to the children in the Hollywood area.

     One of his favorite memories of interacting with children is his relationship with Alexandra Nechita, a child prodigy known as “Young Mozart with a paintbrush.”  He met young nine-year-old Alexandra while serving as the Executive Director of the Severin Wunderman Museum in Irvine.  By the time she was 14, Clark had curated and organized a museum tour of her work. “She (Alexandra) is 23 now. Still beautiful with a great heart and talent and she is finishing her Master of Fine Arts program at Pepperdine,” boasts Clark.

     For several years, Tony was educated by and performed for many, including Eugene Loring, Irina Bronislava, his Godmother Tamara Toumanova, Merce Cunningham, Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris, but it was with Maurice Bejart in Bruxelles where music was a requirement in learning art. He learned piano and music composition and how to become the music.  Paris offered a variety of musicians, dancers, singers and artists countless evenings together discussing the arts and exchanging ideas. 

     Like the respected artist, Jean Cocteau, Tony wanted to do it all. He became a choreographer, director and producer of plays, films and theater.  As a curator of French exhibitions earned Clark the award of knighthood as Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for helping to keep the French arts alive.

     Tony credits Bejart and Cocteau for having a profound influence on his career.  After seeing l’Ange Heurtebise in Bruxelles with Marais reciting a famous poem by Cocteau while Jorge Dunn danced as Angel, dressed in a military camouflaged parachute, he was hooked.  Tony and Marais became good friends and he spent many years reconstructing and choreographing the roles of Vaslav Nijinsky. 

     “Cocteau did it all.  If he did not do it himself, he produced it.  He is the person that deserves the credit for bringing visual and performing arts together.  Most people only know him as a writer or a filmmaker.  He saw all his talents as Poesie Plastique.  I live in this tradition,” said Clark.

     During 2006, Clark curated a retrospective of Cocteau’s work throughout Japan and organized an exhibition for the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. This led him to be appointed to the board of directors of a new museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau in 2011 and named Jean Cocteau Collection de Severin Wunderman in Musee Menton, located in the south of France.

     Today the ‘child prodigy’ serves on a dozen boards of art organizations and museums and lectures at seminars and universities in the US and abroad.  He is also an appraiser through The Arts of the Theatre Gallery that he started in 1979 and is considered an expert on French art.

     Clark’s latest project is a presentation entitled, “Celebrations of the Equinox” that combines music, visual art and theatrical performances, which together forms a united multi-discipline ‘Sight-Sound Path of Life’ platform, but as the ‘Clark Expedition’ looks beyond its Gold Coast roots to new US locations to stage his many programs and to celebrate its artistic and educational missions, the Chevalier ‘dances’ to the words from “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost: “Do not follow where the path may lead… Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

By Kate Garton/AAPJ


For the 4-page print design of this feature:


Published by on December 2012. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Centerstage Section, Cover Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

32 Comments for “His heart still dances among the stars”

  1. Wow! What an endearing read about a person’s life as well as both visual layouts – online and the print view at Scribd.

  2. Randall Oldrieve

    My Man Tony! Storybook background for a multifaceted enricher of many lives throughout the World. Keep on Dancin’!

  3. Kate,

    Thank you for your style and in depth study of a question that many have asked and many that just did not understand why. I feel a bit the scrim has been removed, but I hope it inspires others to follow their hearts and enjoy all the arts. Labels are for test tubes. May the spirit of Jean Cocteau live in all of us.

  4. Bravo to the works and (tireless) efforts of Tony Clark and for the Art-to-Art Palette Journal and Kate Garton for providing this insightful perspective on a dear friend.

  5. Your “path” continues and the “trail” you leave behind inspires all who have accompanied you on various aspects of your journey – a luminous quest of all the arts. http://www.orphanos.com

  6. Great to hear your story, Tony. Now I know your inspiration. http://www.danpyleartist.com

  7. John Harrington

    I have known Tony for a long time and he never told me any of the above information. WOW! I know a celebrity!

  8. You’ve had a very rich and fulfilling life, Tony,and you are about others as well.
    David Wall

  9. Gary Mortimer

    Beautifully written story about a multi-talented man. Tony has indeed done many great things in helping promote art and artists from the youngest, “most impressionable”, to more seasoned individuals who probably benefited from Tony’s direction and help.
    I hope to see LOTS of Mr. Clark’s work in all forms!

  10. I’ve known you for years, and yet you still amaze me with what I don’t know. You are truly a man of many many talents and accomplishments. What will you do next?

    Editor’s note: His ‘assignment’ is to follow my wishes – please re-read the last paragraph in regards to “Celebrations of the Equinox” – I can see these stages at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Akron Art Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art etc – all the ‘boy’ has to do is what Neil Armstrong did in 1969 – “One step for man, one giant leap for mankind?”

  11. Marcia Aerni

    You are a facinating person and this explains a portion of why. My favorite poem too, Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. A perfect mantra for a person who does not accept the bonds of the average, you’ve lived that path not taken. A great philosophy to teach the young as well. Bravo and bravissimo!!!!!!
    You are a treasure.

  12. John Sarley

    Thank you for a very inspirational and enlightening piece. Tony is the embodiment of a true renaissance man.

  13. Thanks for the great story on this driving artistic force. It’s inspiring to learn about the creative people in our midst.

  14. Mark Oppenheimer

    How fortunate you are to have been exposed to Art’s lure at so young an age. You embody all that you learned and you possess and maintain that original fascination for Art you had as a child. That is the best part don’t you think? Yes!!!

  15. I loved reading about you and getting some insight about who you are. Fascinating! Your heart is so big and I am blessed to know you. Wonderful pictures of you :)) – so handsome. xoxoxo – http://www.michelleoppenheimer.com

  16. enjoyed this reading this and to know more about you. a great embodiment of a contemporary gesamtkunstwerk. hope to see more of your work.

  17. Dror Kolton


    You have always been a very special, fabulous handsome man….Lots of love….

  18. Clayton Stang

    You are a marvel to me, Tony. I’ve always found you fascinating, but in actuality, you’re AMAZING! I had no idea of all of the wonderful things you’ve done and do.
    Truly amazing.

  19. Michael Chill

    It’s fascinating when you read the background information on someone and realize how important it is to expose children to the arts at a young age. With all the talk in politics of reducing funding for the arts in schools, Mr. Clark’s upbringing shows us how important it is to nurture the creative side, which may reside in all of us, if only we had the opportunity.
    And, thank you for the reminder of the need to “give back;” Mr. Clark embodies something that too many have forgotten.

  20. Bill Haugse

    A wonderful background story. I especially like the association with Cocteau, but so many aspects of Tony’s career are fascinating. It will be so interesting to see where he goes with all this.

  21. Hena Wunderman

    Dear Tony,
    You are amazing and I have known you for so many years. You are unbelievable, but I love you for the human being you are and I love you for for the person you are. Je t’aime beacoups Helene

  22. Great profile! While I know what a fine curator Tony is, some of his ‘history’ was not know by me or many of the artists Tony works with. What a kind, generous man, with a keen eye!

  23. This truly gives more insight into what made Tony who he is. Excellent article.

  24. Dr. Monty Hill

    While it is impossible to distill the essence of anyone’s life into a few paragraphs, Mon Chevalier has obviously had a vast and refined exposure to life. It is an honor to know him and be inspired by his enthusiasm.

  25. What a pleasure to read about you, Tony, and all of the many things you have done throughout your life. Thank you for sharing your world with us in so many different forms. Giving to others and educating children through the arts is a great gift and one that keeps giving. I am happy to know you and I enjoy seeing all of the energy you put out to so many people in the world. Continue your inspired journey! http://www.susanlawrence.net

  26. Tony, It was lovely to hear your story. Especially loved the gold glittery Geni costume! You are amazing. Anita – http://www.anitarosenberg.com

  27. Melinda Travis

    I read the insightful article with delight. It’s an honor and pleasure to know you. Thank you for your contributions.

  28. Our friendship through the arts has lasted for more years than either of us will admit. What a wonderful article and delightful to learn even more about you. You are a valued trustee of the Hollywood Arts Council. Your commitment to the arts and your nurturing loving spirit has always been an inspiration. http://www.hollywoodartscouncil.org

  29. Nicely written and informative! Max – http://www.ohiosilver.com

  30. WOW! What a wonderful tribute to an inspirational man, dancer, choreographer, teacher and true artist. Reading this gave me a kundalini and inspires me to greater depth as an artist myself. I feel humble next to him. With love, Jeffrey – http://www.jeffreycougler.com

  31. Ken Henry - Oslo, Norway

    Very interesting reading, and nice to get to know a little better, Tony!

  32. What a fabulous life Tony leads. He is a man of great taste and his involvement in preserving the arts for youth is inspirational. I’m grateful that I have been able to share my work with him. http://www.walkerbuntingphotography.com

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