Press Room

Monday October 30, 2017

The Unslaked Fires of Love

This story of a burning love became a poem by Muhammad Fuzuli (1483-1556), which became the libretto for an opera by the Azibaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli (1885-1948) that premiered in Baku in 1908. A hundred years later, violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble collaborated with the great Azerbaijani singer Alim Qasimov to transform the opera into a chamber piece. In 2016, Mark Morris added dancing to it—not incidental dancing, but movement deeply embedded in the music and the story.

Monday October 30, 2017

Mark Morris gets to the heart of the story of Layla and Majnun at the White Light Festival, New York

The immediate antecedent to Mark Morris’s Layla and Majnun may date back only a century, to the first Azerbaijani opera, but the story has pervaded the Islamic world, from India to Morocco, for over a thousand years — as folktale, epic poem, miniature painting and classical dance. By idiosyncratic means, the American choreographer confirms why this tragic romance has long mattered: the love it describes is essential and vast.

★★★★★

Friday June 30, 2017

Dancing with Lou Harrison

On June 28, 2017, in Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall, the Mark Morris Dance Group premiered a work, Numerator, set to Harrison’s Varied Trio for violin, piano,and percussion. The title of the program? Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison. That brings to seven the number of works that Morris has set to music by a man he considered a friend.

Friday June 30, 2017

Review: Mark Morris Dance Group perfect at Tanglewood

Watching for Morris's creations on Thursday night set to Harrison's music, it was impossible to imagine the music without the movement. Everything went perfectly together.

Friday June 30, 2017

Mark Morris and Lou Harrison, a Large-Spirited Partnership

Though born almost 40 years apart, the composer Lou Harrison and the choreographer Mark Morris, both from the West Coast, became one of the great artistic partnerships. At Tanglewood on Wednesday and Thursday, the Mark Morris Dance Group performed “Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison."

Tuesday June 27, 2017

The Mark Morris Dance Group Presents Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison At Tanglewood

The Mark Morris Dance Group will conclude their 2016-17 season with the world premiere of Mark Morris’ Numerator at Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Festival for Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison, an entire Lou Harrison program performed with the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center.

Tuesday May 30, 2017

Pepperland at the Royal Court, Liverpool - a seamless synthesis

Mark Morris, seasoned choreographer of everything from baroque odes to country and western hits, was the perfect choice for a danced response to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, whose 50th birthday celebrations began at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool last weekend. Pepperland was the first of 13 anniversary events in the city, one for each track on the album.

Monday May 29, 2017

Pepperland, Royal Court, Liverpool, review: It refuses to be nostalgic romp

Kicking off Liverpool’s huge Beatles celebration, Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland is both sunny and unpredictable. For all its pop 1960s costumes and Lennon-McCartney numbers, it refuses to be a nostalgic romp.

Sunday May 28, 2017

Mark Morris: Pepperland review - Beatles with a touch of Broadway shuffle

Sgt Pepper at 50 was conceived as a celebration of the Beatles’ legacy. The festival, which brings together artists as disparate as Jeremy Deller, Judy Chicago and DJ Spooky, all of them inspired by the album’s songs, opened on Thursday night with the premiere of Mark Morris’s Pepperland. The American choreographer is based in Brooklyn, and his response to the album has been to take half a dozen tracks, relocate them somewhere not too far off Broadway, and reinvent them as jazzy show tunes for the 15 dancers of his company.

Saturday May 27, 2017

Dance review: Pepperland at Royal Court, Liverpool

With high-spirited humour, eccentric charm and a joyous musical sensibility, Morris and his composer, Ethan Iverson, have revisited the album’s ambition and influence to produce an hour-long celebration that is as ingenious as it is entertaining.

Friday May 26, 2017

A brilliant homage to one of the great rock albums - Pepperland, Royal Court Liverpool, review

Such a festival deserves a grand opening, and they don’t get much grander than Pepperland, the world premiere of a specially commissioned work by the internationally acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group. Combining dance by the New York-based company with a musical score by American composer Ethan Iverson, the show is a truly joyous, celebratory work of art.

Friday May 26, 2017

Pepperland review – Mark Morris's Lonely Hearts Club dancers are a dream

With Mark Morris it always starts with the music. His new work Pepperland has been created for the celebratory Sgt Pepper at 50 festival, but Morris has done nothing so simple as choreograph the Beatles’ album itself. Instead, he’s commissioned a new score from composer Ethan Iverson, featuring six boldly idiosyncratic reinventions of the original songs. A Day in the Life comes with haunting piano and theremin; a wonderfully arthritic version of When I’m Sixty-Four has its vaudeville rhythms creakily jangled and out of key.

Friday May 26, 2017

Review: Pepperland at Royal Court Liverpool

Dancers move with deliberate yet languorous ease through a series of same sec and mixed double pas de deux, while Morris and Iverson have created a fiendishly tricky music and movement sequence to When I’m 64 where the beats in the bar vary from 10/4 to 4/4, giving the feel of time stretching and bending – and confusing the young audience members valiantly trying to clap along. The piece is also suffused with humour, and what comes over more than perhaps anything else is how much fun the dancers appear to be having on stage. You almost want to leap out of your seat and join in with the Carnaby Street-clad chorus.

Wednesday May 10, 2017

Dance tributes to Leonard Cohen and Beatles' Sgt. Pepper coming to Toronto

A dance production inspired by Leonard Cohen and another honouring the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will be part of the Sony Centre’s second annual international Dance Collection. Also onstage will be the Canadian premiere of Pepperland by Mark Morris Dance Group, which includes an original score by Ethan Iverson performed by a chamber music ensemble of voice, soprano saxophone, keyboards, theremin and percussion.

Monday March 20, 2017

Operas That Dance

On the last day of July, 2013, I saw and heard an unforgettable performance in Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall. Mark Morris had directed Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River for a cast of Tanglewood Fellows and paired it with his 1989 visualization of Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the MMDG Musical Ensemble. The last sentence of my review was this: “I wish I could see it again this very minute.” I’ve had to wait three-and-half years.

Monday March 20, 2017

Song and Dance Man

Every decision Morris made here — keeping the instrumentalists onstage throughout, dressing the chorus and the main performers all in identical white shirts and trousers, using minimal sets, and having the “ghost child” who appears at the end not appear, but instead sing from offstage (in the voice of countertenor Daniel Moody)—worked to heighten the effect of this unusual Britten work. It was at once austere and moving, weird and familiar, and though its seventy minutes did not feel short, they all earned their keep.

Monday March 20, 2017

Embodying Music

Mark Morris’ identity as an artist is inseparable from the music. Not only does he make dances, he conducts their scores, and “Mark Morris: Two Operas, An evening of Britten and Purcell” was a personification of this artistic Janus. Each work profited from his devotion to both opera and dance, but in opposing ways. Morris highlighted the music in his New York premiere of Benjamin Britten’s “Curlew River” and focused on the dance in his 1989 classic, Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas.” In both cases, though, the partner art was rendered with beautiful attention.

Sunday March 19, 2017

Two Operas, One Visionary: Mark Morris at BAM

As a choreographer, Mark Morris believes that dancing is a perfectly natural thing for humans to do. How else to explain the way he turned a company of male opera singers into a troupe of dancers?

Wednesday March 15, 2017

Dido Returns - the Mark Morris Dance Group at BAM

Mark Morris has always been interested in music, but in 1989, when he premiered “Dido and Aeneas,” that interest was expressed primarily through dance. He also continued to be concerned with the gender issues that marked the first decade or so of his work.

Tuesday February 21, 2017

Critic's Choice

For inventiveness of motion married to the gestures of music, few choreographers are as adroit and unpredictable as Mark Morris. For the past decade Mark Morris Dance Group has regularly brought some of its dance programs to the George Mason University Center of the Arts.

Monday February 06, 2017

Stephanie Blythe Sings Dido

“Opulent” and “majestic” are words frequently mentioned when people hear mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe sing. Since winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1994, she has been at the peak of her trade on opera and concert stages.

Tuesday December 13, 2016

It’s a Blizzard Onstage. Here’s All the Dirt.

This month, two of the finest examples are on display in New York. In “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” at New York City Ballet, dancers gleam like ice princesses as they flit across the stage in brisk petit allegro jumps under a steady snowfall that eventually reaches blizzard proportions. And in “The Hard Nut,” by Mark Morris, the dancers, male and female, throw snow while dashing across the stage in sleek formations. The effect in both is a thrilling merging of motion and music.

Tuesday December 13, 2016

The Hard Nut, BAM, New York — ‘Funny, cynical and wise’

Mark Morris begins his Nutcracker conventionally enough, with a Christmas gathering. But this party, set in Ice Storm suburbia, amounts to a riot of self-interest. The hosts’ preening teenage daughter (Lesley Garrison) wants sex. Their boy (June Omura, more demonic with each passing year) wants trouble. The clueless dad (Morris as a man who has mistaken himself for a cartoon) wants to appear in charge. The maid (Brandon Randolph in a detailed role debut) wants as much fun as her thankless job permits. The venturesome guests want to get it on with anyone but the person they came with. And the mom (delectable John Heginbotham) wants to be sedated.

Monday December 12, 2016

The Genius of "The Hard Nut"

After twenty-five years in Mark Morris’s version of “The Nutcracker,” Kraig Patterson’s maid still embodies the spirit of the piece.

Sunday December 11, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group at BAM: Twenty-Five Years of The Hard Nut

It’s not hard to say why Mark Morris’ rendering of the holiday Nutcracker classic is better than all the rest. In contrast to other productions I’ve seen, Mark Morris has created a party scene for the first act which is unrivaled.

Wednesday December 07, 2016

The best dance of 2016: Farewell to a beloved fest and why Hubbard Street is Underappreciated

Choreographed in 1989, Dido and Aeneas has an antique patina thanks to Virgil's epic story and Henry Purcell's 1689 opera, performed live at the Harris Theater by the MMDG Music Ensemble and conducted by Morris himself.

Saturday November 19, 2016

South of the border: The White Light Festival spotlighted South India this year

The White Light Festival at New York's Lincoln Center focussed this year on southern Indian arts and revived the Mark Morris dance, 'O Rangasayee'

Tuesday November 01, 2016

'Sounds of India' Review: Tradition and Its Offshoots

The eight events curated by choreographer Mark Morris for “Sounds of India,” part of Lincoln Center’s current White Light Festival, include three dance presentations that provide particular sights for the sounds on offer. 

Tuesday November 01, 2016

A New Incarnation of Mark Morris's Singular Dance

"O Rangasayee", A Mark Morris dancing solo has been revived as part of Sounds of India, at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. Morris, a passionate admirer of Indian music and dance, is the curator of the series. The Mark Morris Dance Group is giving three performances two of which have Indian themes and “O Rangasayee” is definitely the highlight. 

Monday October 31, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group, White Light Festival, New York

Morris’s new piece uses the rhythm and gesture of Indian dance as its foundation

Sunday October 30, 2016

Mark Morris Is a Citizen of the World at the White Light Festival

As curator of “Sounds of India,” part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, Mark Morris has invited a number of performing artists from South India to perform in New York; at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater of John Jay College, the Mark Morris Dance Group is alternating with the Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali Troupe and Nrityagram. But all four pieces of his own program, which opened on Saturday night, show his talent’s marvelously irrational aspect.

Friday October 28, 2016

10 Things to Do Now in NYC

For this Lincoln Center multiarts festival, continuing through Nov. 16, Mark Morris shares his enthusiasm as the curator of the “Sounds of India” series.

Monday October 24, 2016

Love, Ecstasy, Infinity: Mark Morris's 'Layla and Majnun'

The Mark Morris Dance Group and the musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble, come to the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center this week with Layla and Majnun.

Monday October 03, 2016

Mark Morris dancers, Silk Road Ensemble join in classic love story

Few stories capture the hearts of people all over the world as reliably as one about ill-starred lovers. No matter that we all know the outcome of “Romeo and Juliet” — their plight perennially moves us. Another of the world’s great love stories, “Layla and Majnun,” dates back long before Shakespeare. Its most famous literary expression, a verse romance by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, has been casting its spell over Middle Eastern and Asian audiences for nearly a millennium.

Monday October 03, 2016

Mark Morris and Silk Road Delight with Layla and Majnun

Layla and Majnun, choreographer Mark Morris’s 13th work to have its world premiere at Cal Performances, is a delight. The piece, slightly over an hour long, combines — with concision, precision, heart and brio — all the qualities that are best in Morris’ aesthetic.

Monday October 03, 2016

"Layla and Majnun" Mark Morris Dance Company Cal Performances Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley

The sixty-minute work is based on the 1908 opera by Azerbaijani composerUzeyir Hajibeyli, available on YouTube. You can’t miss its grand opera gestures which Qasimov, Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobson, however, condensed into an exquisitely focused version which retained the integrated perspective of western and Azerbaijani music. The original version's chorus and additional singers are here carried by Morris always strong dancers. Sung in the original language, super titles helped our understanding but also gave an inkling of the lush poetry and a quasi-transcendental concept of human love. Curious was the idea that love and suffering are inextricably connected; the very concept of passion, apparently, is painful.

Monday October 03, 2016

Mark Morris’ ‘Layla and Majnun’ premiere an excess of riches

Cal Performances sponsored a few events last month, but for many, the season opened at Zellerbach Hall Friday, Sept. 30, with the world premiere of “Layla and Majnun,” Mark Morris’ choreographed retelling of a classic Persian legend, set to exquisite Azerbaijani music by early 20th century composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. Members of the remarkable Silk Road Ensemble and two great vocalists in the mugham style, Fargana Qasimova and Alim Qasimov, performed the arranged score, and they presented a problem by dividing our attention.

Sunday October 02, 2016

Review: From Mark Morris, a Tale of Love Refracted and Multiplied

BERKELEY, Calif. — “My soul is on fire because we are apart. My only wish is to perish in the world of love. My true love knows every sliver of sorrow in my heart.” “Dear God, let me feel even more despair for my love.” “The true purpose of love is sacrificing oneself.” These lines, capturing various archetypal facets of Romantic love and anguish, come from the libretto of “Layla and Majnun.” The story, known from the fifth century onward in oral versions, reached its first definitive form in the Persian romance of Nezami Ganjawi (1141-1209).

Sunday October 02, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group – Layla and Majnun – San Francisco

A friend said to me the other day, “People go to see Mark Morris for the music.” We were discussing the upcoming world premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group’s Layla and Majnun, and why she, a dancer, wouldn’t be seeing it. The truth is not as unequivocal as that – clearly, Morris’ choreography has as many adherents as his exquisite taste in music and musical collaborators. But judging by the applause at Zellerbach Hall, where Layla and Majnun opened on Friday, 30 September, people really were there for the music. At the curtain call, they clapped respectfully for the fifteen dancers, huzzahed for the Silk Road Ensemble and stood up and cheered for the two vocalists, Azerbaijani father-daughter mugham singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova. It was a fair assessment of the 50-minute work, for which the music was exquisite but the slight choreography was tastefully decorative when not cloyingly frilly.

Sunday October 02, 2016

A fiery Layla and Majnun première by the Silk Road Ensemble and Mark Morris Dance Group

Across the open and darkened stage the lights of small lamps flicker. At the back of the stage stretches an eight-foot-wide platform, and from that platform run two more ‘runways’ at a lower level. The stepped platforms fashion a squared-off C-shape pushed against the outer edges of the stage. In the center of the C is a shorter platform, with just enough room for two people to sit crosslegged, facing the audience, and sing.

Thursday June 15, 2017

Mark Morris Presents Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison, an entire program devoted to Lou Harrison at Tanglewood

(Brooklyn, NY) – The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) completes their lively, engaging and varied 2016-17 season with the world premiere of Mark Morris’ Numerator at Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Music Festival for Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison, an entire Lou Harrison (1917-2003) program performed with the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center.

Friday March 31, 2017

Brooklyn's Judith R. Fishman to Become Mark Morris Dance Group's Chairman of the Board

                                                                                        (Brooklyn, NY) – The Mark Morris Dance Group is pleased to announce that Judith R. Fishman has been elected Chairman of the Board beginning April 1. David Resnicow, Board Chairman (2009-2017) will become Vice Chair, to serve alongside existing Vice Chairman Mark Selinger.

Thursday February 23, 2017

The Mark Morris Dance Group Launches Unique Dance Accompaniment Training Program in Partnership with Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU

(Brooklyn, NY) – The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in partnership with Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University (CBA) will launch the Mark Morris Dance Accompaniment Training Program, a new, innovative program to train and provide practical experience for dance accompanists. This one-of-a-kind program recognizes the significance of music in the dance studio and aims to further legitimize dance accompaniment as a viable and much needed profession within the music and dance industries.

Thursday September 01, 2016

Layla and Majnun – A Classic Persian Love Story - Mark Morris’s Newest Evening Length Work World Premiere -- September 30 at Cal Performances, Berkeley, CA

“No choreographer alive has built up a stronger reputation for musicality than Mark Morris” The New York Times

Morris Choreography Set to a Chamber Arrangement Performed by the Silk Road Ensemble with Stage and Costume Design from Painter Howard Hodgkin, Lighting by James F. Ingalls 

Ten National and International Performing Arts Institutions Combine Forces to Support Mark Morris’s Eighth Evening Length Work

Layla and Majnun Will Tour the US and Abroad

Thursday August 18, 2016

The Mark Morris Dance Group Celebrates 15 Years of the Mark Morris Dance Center at its Annual Open House

ALL FREE ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES – DANCE, MUSIC, AND FITNESS CLASSES, PERFORMANCES BY MMDG, FOOD FROM LOCAL VENDORS, RAFFLE, TICKET GIVEAWAY TO MMDG PERFORMANCES AT BAM,
PLUS A BEER GARDEN WITH LIVE MUSIC

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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