Press Room

Wednesday April 20, 2016

New Cal Performances season puts focus on inclusion, innovation, immersion

At the core of the 111th Cal Performances season are what executive and artistic director Matías Tarnopolsky calls “three strands of artistic exploration”: inclusion, innovation and immersion. 
The inclusion theme kicks off with the season opening world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s “Layla and Majnun,” with music performed by The Silk Road Ensemble with the voices of Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, with sets and costumes by British artist Howard Hodgkin. 

Tuesday April 19, 2016

New Mark Morris dance piece to open Cal Performances' 2016-17 season

Cal Performances kicks off its 2016-17 season with a star-studded bang in late September with the world premiere of Mark Morris' evening-length dance "Layla and Majnun," performed by his company and featuring the Silk Road Ensemble as well as Azerbaijan mugham vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova. The work, drawn from the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi's story of forbidden love, plays Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall.

Wednesday April 06, 2016

Dido and Aeneas at the revamped Harris Theater

I was ready to be a little disappointed when I arrived at the Harris Theater for the Mark Morris Dance Group's performance of Dido and Aeneas last night. I knew that Morris himself had danced the piece's twin lead roles of Dido and the Sorceress at its premiere in 1989 and numerous times since, but had never seen it. And now that he wasn't taking the role himself anymore, I knew he had cast it with a woman. That sounded like it would be less interesting. I needn't have worried. There's nothing uninteresting about Laurel Lynch, who has both lead parts. 

Wednesday April 06, 2016

After 27 years, Mark Morris' 'Dido and Aeneas' only gains in force

Delight defines Mark Morris' "Dido and Aeneas." Delight in sex, in music, in pathos, in mischief and even evil. Delight despite the ancient tragic story of love betrayed, and despite the historic and political trappings the story has accumulated over the centuries. Running for the second time in Chicago, through Wednesday at the Harris, Morris' hourlong "Dido and Aeneas" carries some major baggage. Choreographed in 1989 for Brussels' Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, it's based in Virgil's "Aeneid," which emphasizes fate, the gods, the destined history of Rome. Henry Purcell's 1689 opera, set to Nahum Tate's libretto, provides not only the music and a political message about England's ascendancy but a different tack on the characters: Dido becomes stronger than Aeneas, and witches, not gods, direct the action.

Monday April 04, 2016

UW World Series announces new name, new season includes MMDG Northwest premiere

“Layla and Majnun,” based on a fifth-century Persian romantic poem, performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group with The Silk Road Ensemble. A Meany Center co-commission and Northwest premiere, it opens the season. (Oct. 6-8)

Friday April 01, 2016

Northrop staging of 'Dido' shows timeless mastery of Mark Morris

It’s not every day that you get to see an opera danced. That’s exactly what happened when the Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble brought the iconic 1989 work “Dido and Aeneas” to Northrop on Wednesday. The opera, written by Henry Purcell, was simultaneously sung from the orchestra pit and danced on stage, with intriguing if somewhat disconnected results. Because it was difficult for the audience to see the singers (who were quite good), it was a bit like watching a dubbed movie, in which the dialogue doesn’t exactly line up with the performer who is “speaking.” Still, the live music and singing made up a rich, essential part of the epic work.

Thursday March 31, 2016

Come see "Dido and Aeneas" – there's nothing like a live-danced opera

The baroque opera “Dido and Aeneas” comes at 8 p.m. to Elliott Hall this Saturday, brought to life through vocalists, dancers and a live chamber orchestra. The Mark Morris Dance Group will discuss the ins and outs of the aesthetics in a pre-show talk at 7 p.m. in the Mechanical Engineering Building, Room 1103. Below, Laurel Lynch, lead performer playing dual roles, Dido and the Sorceress, answers questions to give you a sense of what you’ll be able to take away from the show and pre-show.

Wednesday March 30, 2016

Tragedy told through dance & opera

If you talk to Mark Morris about his choreography, he often circles back to storytelling. For "Dido and Aeneas," Morris unites live instrumental, choral, vocal solo and dance forces, funneling the energy of each into a whole that unfolds English composer Henry Purcell's famous 1689 opera.
The story — at once real and heart-breaking — is based on Virgil's tale. Dido, the Queen of Carthage, and shipwrecked Trojan prince Aeneas fall in love, only to have their bond destroyed by the cruel Sorceress and Dido's own misgivings. And so Morris uses each movement, bow stroke and vocal nuance to present the piece's full meaning.

Tuesday March 29, 2016

Ancient legend, modern dance

Art rarely mashes up genres as disparate as modern dance, baroque opera and Roman epics. Yet the Mark Morris Dance Group has been pulling off the combo since 1989.  For their modern dance version of Purcell’s opera, “Dido and Aeneas,” at Northrop on Wednesday, the 12 dancers are collaborating with a live orchestra, chorus and solo vocalists.

“It’s one of the great pieces of music in the Western canon and [one of the first operas] in the English language,” said Morris. In addition to leading his eponymous group, he’s the piece’s choreographer and the orchestra’s conductor. 

Monday March 28, 2016

Doomed love affair makes 'irresistible' dance piece

Choreographer Mark Morris no longer dances in his company's show, "Dido and Aeneas," even though he wrote the piece for himself. But almost 30 years after the first performance, he'll still be quite visible when he brings "Dido" to the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
The decision to do "Dido and Aeneas" came easily, Morris explained, particularly when he heard Henry Purcell's opera, composed in English in the 1680s.
"It's a great ... masterpiece," he said. "And it's a perfect length, and it's a great scale, and it's an irresistible story."

Friday March 18, 2016

Mark Morris’ L’Allegro and Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering Rocket in to the Bay Area

Rather like El Niño’s oscillation between warm and cold in the Pacific, Morris’ monumental work cycles between two temperaments — the one irrepressibly gay (l’Allegro), the other pensive and introspective (il Penseroso). The poet Milton’s musings, richly ornamented by Handel, are brought to vivid life by Morris — though the cheeky choreographer doesn’t confine himself to any one method of word painting.

Tuesday March 15, 2016

Mark Morris’ dance work: ‘Most fantabulous — ever’

A couplet from the libretto of “L’Allegro” reads: “Come, and trip it as you go/On the light fantastic toe.” And truly fantastic it was. Two dozen barefooted members of the Mark Morris Dance Group — along with longtime Morris collaborators, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale — just gave the most fantabulous modern dance performance I’ve seen. Ever.

Friday March 11, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group to bring tale of 'Dido and Aeneas' to Purdue

The Mark Morris Dance Group on April 2 will bring Henry Purcell's famous baroque opera "Dido and Aeneas" to life with a live chamber orchestra, vocalists and dancers under the baton of choreographer Mark Morris at Elliott Hall of Music.

Friday March 04, 2016

Dance, music, and history: the Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble - Interview with Michelle Yard

Smile Politely: Mark Morris' choreography is often described in terms of its musicality, and the performances you're touring right now are paired with live, virtuosic classical music performances. Can you talk about what it's like as a dancer to have such an emphasis on music in your performances? 
Michelle Yard: I have danced for Mark for nearly 20 years and every work he creates begins with a piece of music, it is his inspiration and from that a dance is born. Every note in the score is accounted for and choreographed. As a dancer it's sometimes challenging to learn, what I call the DNA of each step. However, ultimately it makes the process very interesting and rewarding to learn and then perform.
Over the years, I have learned that even a piece of music that sounds simple and straightforward is never that, because of Mark's attention to detail and superb ear. His choreography brings the notes on the page to life. The music he begins with and the dance he creates becomes even more varied and complex. And then I can't imagine one without the other.

Friday March 04, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group returns to Krannert Center

The Mark Morris Dance Group returns to Krannert Center's Tryon Festival Theatre on the University of Illinois Urbana campus for performances Friday and Saturday evening.  Illinois Public Media's Brian Moline talked with Morris from his dance studio in New York.

Thursday March 03, 2016

Steppin' Up: Access/MMDG in Champaign-Urbana

As a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group since 2002, Noah Vinson has enjoyed touring the world. This time around, he won't be helping with the Mark Morris Dance Group's extensive community engagement efforts. He has in the past. Five of the 18 members of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based dance company arrived here earlier this week to lead 27 community engagement events — more than any other performing arts group that passes through Krannert Center.

Wednesday March 02, 2016

Dance culture thrives in busy month at UC Berkeley

I envy anyone experiencing Morris’ setting of Handel’s ode “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato” for the first time. One of the most encyclopedic and humane dance masterworks of our age, the piece fulfills its fifth engagement at Zellerbach Auditorium, the first revival here since 2009... Despite the sensual pleasures the work affords, to eye and ear it repays close study of Morris’ profound talent for fusing note and step and making it all sublimely entertaining.

Tuesday March 01, 2016

Crazy in Love: Mark Morris Dance Group announces Layla and Majnun project

Brooklyn's Mark Morris Dance Group has announced a new production based on a seventh century Persian love story. The company's eigth evening-length work, Layla and Majnun, is set to premiere later this year. 

Sunday February 21, 2016

The colorful restraint of the Mark Morris Dance Group

As audiences saw in the Mark Morris Dance Group’s annual performances at George Mason University on Friday and Saturday, the best of Morris’s works offer wholeness. The musical response is fluid and handled lightly. No distractions, rhythmic or otherwise, take us out of an unpredictable but effortless meeting of sound and movement. The dances simply feel right, to the eye, intellect and nervous system.

Thursday February 18, 2016

Community dance programs are kicking up their heels

NYC’s de Blasio administration has established a program to provide space for subway dancers to perform in public parks for pedestrians and tourists. The program is offered as an alternative to dancing on train cars. The dance initiative is offered in partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Group and the non-profit arts organization Dancing in the Streets. The program has the support of the NYC Parks Department and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
The initiative, known as It’s Showtime NYC, provides a lawful venue for the dancers to exhibit their talents and entertain while maintaining order in the subway system. The program aims to prevent rule-breaking or activities that endanger or disturb other subway riders.

Thursday September 10, 2015

Mark Morris Dance Group Hosts Its Annual Free Open House at the Dance Center

FREE ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES - DANCE AND FITNESS CLASSES, PERFORMANCES BY MMDG, FOOD FROM LOCAL VENDORS, HARD NUT TICKET CONTEST, RAFFLE, PLUS A BEER GARDEN WITH LIVE MUSIC

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 9:30AM - 5PM

Tuesday January 20, 2015

L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato on THIRTEEN's Great Performances

Mark Morris's signature work comes to television for the first time, hosted by Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Saturday December 28, 2013

ESSAY: Mark Morris' Dido and Aeneas by Dr. Sophia Preston

An essay by Sophia Preston

Just a few minutes into Mark Morris’s 1989 dance to Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas it is clear that at least some of the movement “represents” the words of the libretto. Whether by looking apt (shaking hands in the air to “shake”), or through repetition (hands held out in an Indian dance mudra every time the word “fate” is heard), associations build up between gestures and words, creating a lexicon of gestural signs. This “re-presentation” of the libretto through gestures might be viewed as a redundant doubling of the words, but my contention is that, on the contrary, Morris exploits the transparency of this strategy to sophisticated and moving effect.

Friday January 27, 2012

Two Reasons the Patient is Still Kicking

Alastair Macaulay for The New York Times

Every so often someone declares ballet dead. The theater critic Kenneth Tynan even did so in the 1960s, a decade that many of us assume must have been a golden age. (The choreographer Frederick Ashton said, “It’s having the biggest funeral in history.”) In 2010 it was the turn of Jennifer Homans, the dance critic of The New Republic, in the epilogue of her ballet history, “Apollo’s Angels.” In 1993 — I’d better come clean — it was me.

Friday May 14, 2010

A Mark Morris dance you must not miss

Roger Downey for Crosscut Seattle
Sometimes it’s the fuel that creates the dance. Jerome Robbins’ strange melancholy masterwork "New York Export: Opus Jazz" (seen all over America in a new staging in late March on PBS’s Great Performances), was the work of a man recalling youth, idealizing youth, desperately evoking youth as it faded from him. But sometimes youth itself makes the dance, pours it out in full thoughtless flood. Such a work is "Gloria," created in 1981 on a part-time company of friends by a 25-year-old independent choreographer named Mark Morris.
"Gloria" is only one of three Morris works coming to Seattle’s Paramount Theater May 21-23; but it is the one which you must see, whether you are a dance fan, a baroque music buff, a theater maven, or simply a person who has sometimes felt moving in the soul the feeling expressed by Dylan Thomas’s immortally longing Polly Garter in Under Milk Wood: “Oh, isn’t life a terrible thing, thank God?”

Friday November 24, 1995

ESSAY: Roger Downey on Dido and Aeneas

All it took to condemn one of the greatest operas ever written to three centuries in shadows were a bare dozen words—“Perform'd at Mr. Josias Priest's Boarding-School at Chelsey. By Young Gentlewomen.”

And the worst of it? It wasn’t even true.

In fact Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas was probably written for performance before the King and Queen of England. But those words, at the head of the libretto published in 1689, have cast such a pall of dainty respectability, of amateur night shenanigans over the work that most listeners have neglected the evidence of their own ears. Dido has been mostly revived professionally when a mezzo-soprano combining musical insight with box-office clout—a Kirsten Flagstad, a Josephine Baker—has insisted on performing it. Paradoxically, Mark Morris's danced version of the piece has probably done more to establish Dido in the repertory than those artists did. 

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The mission of the Mark Morris Dance Group is to develop, promote, and sustain dance, music, and opera productions by Mark Morris and to serve as a cultural resource to engage and enrich the community.

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