Press Room

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.

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

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. 

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. 

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 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’ ‘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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Saturday October 01, 2016

Mark Morris and Silk Road Ensemble’s collaboration

If you peek online at the Mark Morris Dance Group rehearsing Morris’s choreography for a new cross-cultural variant of the 1908 opera “Layla and Majnun,” you see movement that is clean and distilled, marking space in elegant circles and lines. But on stage Friday at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, where the company joined members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble in performing the world premiere of this renowned opera of the East, a cross-cultural traffic jam occurred.

Saturday October 01, 2016

Morris premiere an excess of riches

Inevitably, as the 65-minute work progresses, you find yourself immersed in something organic and wonderful.

Thursday September 15, 2016

Crazy Love: Cal Performances Brings Arabia’s Iconic Love Story to the West

This September, the tale will come to life in an ambitious operatic production commissioned by Cal Performances and at least ten other organizations, including the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. The artists who have come together to build the opera form the ultimate dream team: It includes world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble arranging and performing the music, choreography by Mark Morris and the Mark Morris Dance Group, lighting designs by James F. Ingalls, and set designs and costumes by the British painter Sir Gordon Howard Hodgkin. This is the first time an adaptation of Layla and Majnun is being presented in the Western Hemisphere on this scale.

Wednesday September 14, 2016

Welcome Back, Performing Arts Season

It may be human to err, but it's also human to get things very right. That is, to pour devotion and diligence into a chosen endeavor until it is as close to perfect as possible. Just weeks ago in Rio de Janeiro, the world watched, mesmerized, as a multitude of athletes performed stunning physical feats. In the coming months and much closer to home, other types of performers — musicians, dancers, thespians, acrobats, comedians — will share their own varieties of near-perfection on smaller stages. And the rest of us will watch. Hey, performing arts season: Welcome back!

Friday September 09, 2016

At the Silk Road Bazaar, Layla and Majnun Has Pride of Place

“It just does really have a lot of different worlds,” says violinist Colin Jacobsen about Layla and Majnun, the sui generis work which he’ll accompany, as part of the Silk Road Ensemble, at Zellerbach Hall at the end of the month. And he’s referring to different kinds of worlds. And it's their first full-length, choreographed and costumed collaboration, with the Mark Morris Dance Group providing motion and color.

Wednesday September 07, 2016

Escape the Distractions and See these Ten Dance Events

Fall is upon us and we’re desperately trying to dodge the howling sirocco of the presidential election campaign. Seeking new distractions now that the throbbing beat of samba, bossa nova and funk from Rio is a distant echo, now that the glorious sight of athletes flying through the air and synchronously swimming is a distant memory. Stop trying to parse the rapping Chihuahua, the naked woman swimming in a fish tank, and the unnerving sight of Frank Ocean self-immolating in Blond/Blonde.

Wednesday August 31, 2016

Performances Onstage This Fall

The eighth of Mark Morris’ full-evening entertainments, Layla and Majnun is one of the more intriguing. Thanks to cellist Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble and Azerbaijani vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, the Brooklyn-based choreographer became fascinated with this tragic tale of thwarted love.

Wednesday August 31, 2016

Coming up this fall — arts, authors, visual expression

The Berkeley campus is perennially a hub of artistic performances, exhibits and readings in the Bay Area, and this semester is no exception. From a world premiere by Mark Morris to theater inspired by student veterans to readings by bestselling authors, the arts are thriving at Berkeley.

Tuesday August 30, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group – Mozart Dances: Eleven, Double, Twenty-seven

It’s difficult to think of a better way to bid farewell to a New York summer than with Lincoln Center’s “Mostly Mozart” festival, and seeing Mark Morris Dance Group performing Mozart Dances was the icing on the cake. From the sound of them, you’d never know the three works Morris chose were written in the last decade of the composer’s short life. Performed by Garrick Ohlsson with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra under the baton of Louis Langrée, Mozart’s piano concertos (11 and 23) and double piano sonata (Ohlsson was joined by pianist Inon Barnatan) collectively sounded light, sprightly and enchantingly melodic on Wednesday night’s performance.

Monday August 29, 2016

More Picks in Dance

A refresher on the backstory: Choreographer Mark Morris grew up in Seattle and began dancing here before leaving for a spectacular dance career in New York. (An early work was at On the Boards, way back when OtB was resident at Washington Hall.)

Monday August 29, 2016

Morning Glories: Mark Morris

Every weekday at 10 a.m., the hosts at Classical MPR play a standout work based on the theme for the week. We call them Morning Glories.

Sunday August 28, 2016

Fall arts preview

Mark Morris Dance Group will perform Layla and Majnun (Sept. 30–Oct. 2), based on the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi’s story of forbidden love and accompanied by the musical virtuosity of The Silk Road Ensemble.

Sunday August 28, 2016

Berkeley Forum announces fall 2016 speaker lineup

The Berkeley Forum, a student-run organization that hosts prominent speaking events on campus, announced its fall semester lineup Sunday night. Berkeley Forum President Daniel Ahrens said the lineup this semester is its most expansive yet. It will include tech entrepreneurs, journalists, advocates and artists.

Friday August 26, 2016

VIDEO: Derek Jacobi in Napa, Mark Morris in Berkeley and More

Friday, Sep. 30 – Sunday, Oct. 2: Cal Performances. Mark Morris Dance Group and The Silk Road Ensemble present Layla and Majnun at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley An A-List team of creators including choreographer Mark Morris and his dance company, painter Howard Hodgkin, Azerbaijani superstar singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, and the members of the world-famous music group, the Silk Road Ensemble, unite for this world premiere retelling of an ancient Persian love story through dance, music and colorful visuals. Like Romeo and Juliet, the couple at the center of this narrative are forbidden to wed. And things only spiral downwards from there.

Wednesday August 24, 2016

Bay Area fall dance picks

“Layla and Majnun”: In this full-evening Cal Performances world premiere, master choreographer Mark Morris and his dance group interpret a tragic, centuries-old love story, based on a seventh century Persian poem and set to music by Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli.

Tuesday August 23, 2016

Fall arts 2016: Dance world offers big issues, bold stories

As evidence of the continuing vitality of dance throughout the Bay Area, the fall season marks some significant company anniversaries. And though celebrating a milestone birthday can be both bittersweet and anxiety-producing for an individual, for a dance company it’s a feat as gravity-defying as a grand jeté by Baryshnikov. One of our signature local companies is reintroducing itself with a new, slimmed down name: Smuin Ballet is now known by the single moniker Smuin. Some of the new season’s most anticipated events have plenty of star power, while others present opportunities to discover a few of our area’s resident treasures. Dive in.

Saturday August 20, 2016

Classical Music News of the Week, August 20, 2016

To launch the Inclusion engagement strand, and to open the 2016/17 season, September 30 – October 2, Cal Performances presents the world premiere of Layla and Majnun, a major new evening-length work by choreographer Mark Morris.

Tuesday August 16, 2016

October 15, 2016 at Power Center for The Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI.

Mark Morris returns with his company of 15 dancers for a new, large-scale production that receives its world premiere in September. Layla and Majnun is an Arabian love story that originated as a poem in ancient Persia and is well known among many Middle Eastern and sub-continental cultures. In love from childhood, Layla and Majnun (the name means “possessed”) are not allowed to unite. Majnun, mad in his obsession with Layla, becomes a hermit when she is married off to another man. He devotes his life to writing verses about his profound love for Layla, and although they attempt to meet, they die without ever realizing their relationship.

Tuesday August 16, 2016

Fall Arts Preview 2016: Dance

(Persian/opera) Mark Morris Dance Group with The Silk Road Ensemble 10/6–10/8 Layla and Majnun is an original dance and live music production based on an ancient Persian tale well known in the Islamic world and the subject of its first opera, by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. The work will explore the themes of love, madness and mysticism through Mark Morris’ lyrical choreography and feature popular Azerbaijani singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, the vibrant musicality of The Silk Road Ensemble and the striking visual palette of British painter Howard Hodgkin.

Tuesday August 09, 2016

October 08, 2016 at Meany Center for the Performing Arts in Seattle, WA.

“Layla and Majnun” is an original dance and live music production based on an ancient Persian tale well known in the Islamic world and the subject of its first opera, by composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. The work will explore the themes of love, madness and mysticism through Mark Morris’ lyrical choreography and feature popular Azerbaijani singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, the vibrant musicality of The Silk Road Ensemble and the striking visual palette of British painter Howard Hodgkin.

Wednesday August 03, 2016

October 02, 2016 at Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA.

Mark Morris’ lyrical choreography, the emotive voices of Azerbaijan’s Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova, the vibrant musicality of The Silk Road Ensemble, and the striking visual palette of British painter Howard Hodgkin combine in this world premiere performance. The timeless story of the tragic love between Layla and Majnun, most notably expressed by the great Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, also was the foundation for the first opera of the Muslim world. Hajibeyli’s powerful music—at once profoundly sorrowful and ecstatic—honors the tale’s commitment to love, acceptance, devotion, and peace.

Saturday June 18, 2016

Sounds of India at Lincoln Center’s ‘White Light Festival’

The art and culture of South India will be the centerpiece of the prestigious music festival held annually at the renowned Lincoln Center in New York. The 7th season of Lincoln Center’s ‘White Light Festival’ will open on October 16. Award-winning choreographer Mark Morris will curate a ten-part series on it. The international multidisciplinary festival will have 41 performances in 10 venues over the course of a month, by artists and companies from nine countries. The festival will open with the US premiere of Human Requiem, an intimate and unique theatrical choral event performed by German classical choir Rundfunkchor Berlin.

Thursday June 16, 2016

Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival Draws Inspiration From India

The choreographer Mark Morris, who has long been drawn to the arts and culture of India, has programmed a 10-part series exploring the music and dance of South India that will form the centerpiece of this fall’s White Light Festival, Lincoln Center announced Thursday. 

Friday June 03, 2016

Mark Morris Up Close

The Mark Morris Dance Group presented two New York premieres as a part of its spring season. Alongside two older pieces, the repertoire showed the range of Morris’s smaller-scale concert performance choreography, encompassing rituals and formalism both ornate and more classical in nature. They danced at the company’s intimate home theater on the top floor of its Brooklyn headquarters with live music by the superb resident ensemble, which has become a proud hallmark of the troupe.

Friday May 27, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group Review

There is no question that Mark Morris is one of the greatest choreographers America has produced. His musical acumen rivals that of George Balanhcine, and one might even compare his fertile inventiveness to that of Merce Cunningham. The Mark Morris Dance Group performed four of his dances, including a premiere, in the capacious yet intimate fifth floor studio/theater of his eponymous center in Brooklyn, instead of at BAM, his usual springtime venue. Morris geared his repertory choices to the scale of his studio theater and a small musical ensemble of four.

Sunday May 22, 2016

At Home: Cargo, A Forest, Foursome, The

After more than 35 years, Mark Morris still seems to have plenty to say. In a series of four works including a world premiere, shown in the casual James and Martha Duffy Performance Space of his own Mark Morris Dance Center, Morris offered his idiosyncratic and familiar dance worldview through relentlessly musical choreography. 

Thursday May 19, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group – Cargo, A Forest, Foursome, The – New York

You experience choreography differently in such a setting... You become keenly aware of the dancers’ bodies: how distinct they are, how many shapes and sizes they come in. And what they sound like when they slap their thigh or stomp out rhythms on the floor. The dancers’ faces leave a powerful impression. 

Wednesday May 18, 2016

A Mark Morris Premiere Features Singular Theater Poetry

No choreographer alive has built up a stronger reputation for musicality than Mark Morris. In his finest works, he taps both our most primal and our most sophisticated responses to music. That’s not the only reason he has been recognized since the 1980s as one of the very few great choreographers of our day — there are also his exceptional imagination; his phenomenal wit; the profundity of his view of society; his insistence on live music; and his exceptionally honest, natural dancers — but it’s fundamental.

Sunday May 15, 2016

Mark Morris's Enduring Career

In the field of American dance, rarely friendly to aging bodies, the number of master choreographers working into their seventh decade—and still directing a namesake company—can pretty much be counted on one artfully extended hand. Soon to enter that elite club is Mark Morris, who turns 60 in August and whose company, the Mark Morris Dance Group, performs its spring season May 17 to 22 at his center in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Known as one of the more prolific makers of dance of his or any generation, Mr. Morris has amassed a long list of accolades...“Very few people have the gifts Mark has,” said Lawrence Rhodes, artistic director of the Juilliard Dance Division. “People hope to emulate his innate knowledge of music, structure and vocabulary.” The company, founded in 1980, hasn’t had a repertory season at its center since April 2013. Each of the four pieces on the program is a smaller dance—selected, Mr. Morris said, because in scale they are particularly well suited for the intimate space.

Wednesday May 11, 2016

Mark Morris Dance Group Offers Intimacy in Brooklyn

Certain dances — especially those packed with details — warrant intimacy. The Mark Morris Dance Group grants that wish with a spring season at its Brooklyn quarters, with new and vintage works by the stellar Mr. Morris and, as always, live music...One thing is sure: The close quarters will make Mr. Morris’s details shine.

Saturday April 23, 2016

Classical Music News of the Week, April 23, 2016

The University of Washington's Meany Center for the Performing Arts, newly renamed from UW World Series, today announced its programming for the 2016/17 Season, including 23 events in four subscription series—World Dance, World Music, International Chamber Music and President's Piano Series—as well as a special holiday presentation.

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

Cal Performances goes ‘radical’ with new season

Cal Performances took the wraps off plans for its 2016-17 season Tuesday, April 19, with the area’s premier presenting organization’s boundary-busting signaled by its theme for the season, “#BerkeleyRadical.” The season will be highlighted with the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 world premiere of Mark Morris’ “Layla and Majnun,” with live music by the Silk Road Ensemble and the participation of Azerbaijani mugham vocalists Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova. Esa-Pekka Salonen will follow a week later, conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra.

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 Yo-Yo Ma and 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. But the fun hardly stops there. Among other highlights of the new season, announced this week, are: Many of the performances and mini-residencies include special discussions, demonstrations and other community events as part of Cal Performances' Radical program, meant to afford audiences a deeper understanding of the artists and works being presented.

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 Azerbaijani 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.

Friday April 15, 2016

Berlin, Beethoven and Monk on tap for UMS in 2016-17

The Berlin Philharmonic, the Mark Morris Dance Group, an 80th birthday celebration for composer Steve Reich and a six concert cycle by the Takács Quartet encompassing all of Beethoven's string quartets all all part of the University Musical Society's 138th season in Ann Arbor. Announced today, the 2016-17 season by UMS, the arts presenting arm of the University of Michigan, includes 62 performances ranging from classical music and jazz to theater, dance and world music.

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.

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. 

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 January 28, 2016

The return of Mark Morris' "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" to San Francisco Ballet's repertory

The greatest pleasure of this program is the return, after an eight-year absence, of Mark Morris’ “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes” (moved up from Program 7). The experience is akin to encountering an old friend and sensing that he has grown younger with the years.

Saturday January 23, 2016

Dance Returns the 'Joy of Movement' to People with Parkinson's

If you pictured a dancer, you probably wouldn't imagine someone with Parkinson's disease. Worldwide, there are 10 million people with the progressive movement disorder, and they struggle with stiff limbs, tremors and poor balance. But over the past 15 years or so, a few thousand have taken dance classes that are part of a program called Dance for PD. It began in Brooklyn and has spread throughout the country and around the world. It has also attracted the attention of scientists interested in the ways dance might ease symptoms.
"We don't dumb it down. I believe very much in making this a really joyful and challenging experience," she says. "But it has to be both challenging and kind of satisfying."
Karlin learned what she needed to know to start her Parkinson's program at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, where Dance for PD began about 15 years ago. David Leventhal is the director of the Mark Morris program. At the beginning, he says, it was trial and error because "there's no one type of Parkinson's, no one set of symptoms."

Thursday January 21, 2016

Moving to the Music

The connection between music and dance has long been toyed with, considered, argued and experiemented on. From the famed collaboration of John Cage and Merce Cunningham to babies bopping along to beats, there is an undeniable synergy between the two. Mark Morris puts this relationship at the core of every one of his creations. As one of the only choreographers to insist upon live music with every performance, Morris champions the belief that these two art forms do and must exist together.

Tuesday January 12, 2016

Mark Morris to Choreograph a New Full-Length Work

Despite several precedents in Mr. Morris’s work – his enthusiasm for Asian forms goes back to his earliest days in dance – this is a departure for him, since it couples a story unfamiliar to many Westerners with unfamiliar accompaniment. In the company’s announcement on Tuesday, Mr. Morris said: “The music for ‘Layla and Majnun’ is unusual for its profound depth of sorrow and ecstasy. The mugham style is a thrilling and rare glimpse into old Azerbaijani culture. Love, acceptance, devotion and peace are the ruling esthetics of this production.”

Monday January 04, 2016

See the best new dance on screen

The Mark Morris Dance Group hasn’t visited Britain for some time, but his lyrical masterpice L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato has finally been recorded on DVD, bringing his genius into our homes. Along with The Hard Nut, his sardonic retelling of The Nutcracker, L’Allegro shows him at the height of his interpretive powers.

Wednesday December 30, 2015

Dance forecast 2016: Honoring the legendary Chitresh Das

The company returns to Cal Performances with Morris' masterwork, "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato," set to Handel's oratorio of the same name performed live by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Saturday December 19, 2015

Mark Morris Dance Group - The Hard Nut - New York

The gap left by the departure of Alexei Ratmansky’s Nutcracker for the West Coast – where it seems to be enjoying a successful run – has been filled this year by the return of Mark Morris’s now classic The Hard Nut. Made in 1991 for the Théâtre de la Monnaie, it was Morris’s farewell to Brussels, where the company had spent a productive, if embattled, three years. In short, local audiences and reviewers never really took to Morris’s irreverent style. With The Hard Nut, he gave them one last piece of hard candy to break their teeth on.

Saturday December 19, 2015

What the Rockettes and The Hard Nut teach us about the meaning of life

Like the Christmas Spectacular, “The Hard Nut” is retro-inspired. It takes place in the 1970s, with a comic-book look based on the off-kilter perspective of Charles Burns, the D.C.-born creator of such teen-horror graphic novels as “Black Hole” and “Blood Club.” The decor for the Stahlbaums’ Christmas party includes a white aluminum tree, a deluxe television console and the prominent positioning of a cocktail cart. The characters are superbly detailed, and masculinity and femininity are easily transferable. Mrs. Stahlbaum, portrayed with gallant faded grandeur by John Heginbotham, is desperate for her happy pills and the booze to wash them down. As Dr. Stahlbaum, Morris is benignly oblivious.

Tuesday December 15, 2015

Holiday Fare: Two 'Nuts,' Plaid Glad Tidings, and a Jersey Boy

Twenty-three years after its American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mark Morris’s “The Hard Nut” returns to the venue through December 20 as a modern classic. That status was not entirely assured when this cheeky re-imagining of the ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s beloved “The Nutcracker Suite” first electrified audiences. “It’s deepened over the years,” says Morris now. “People who saw it as kids are now bringing their own kids.”

Tuesday December 15, 2015

The Hard Nut, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York - 'Hilarious and touching'

“Nobody can listen to The Nutcracker any more,” Mark Morris once exclaimed, because “it’s used to get you to buy everything you can imagine.” His hilarious and deeply touching Hard Nut may return the magic to the score but it also revels in the junk the music drove us to consume.

Monday December 14, 2015

'The Hard Nut'...or 'How I Beat the Holiday Blues'

f you’re like me, this time of year can be a sore trial with all the forced holiday cheer. There’s so much pressure to be jolly and all of those obligatory holiday shows just strain your patience. You’re thinking, please, not another production of The Nutcracker! The good news is that you don’t have to suffer any more. You can re-discover your inner holiday mirth by going to see The Hard Nut with the Mark Morris Dance Group. From start to finish, this production is a triumph courtesy of Morris’ abundantly affectionate imagination.

Sunday December 13, 2015

Mark Morris's 'The Hard Nut,' Tchaikovsky With Cartoon Wit and Verve

The greatest single “Hard Nut” dance is the Snowflakes waltz at the end of Act I. No other treatment of this famous music so excites its audience, and again Mr. Morris’s secret is timing. And yet how crazy it is, with these unisex dancing Snowflakes in their bizarre bikini-tutus and skewed shell hats, releasing snow from their hands now in steady drizzles, now like explosions of cocaine. First, we laugh at, then we laugh with, these creatures. They’re preposterous; they’re life-enhancing.

Friday December 11, 2015

You've Never Seen a 'Nutcracker' Quite Like This Before

“I wanted a giant, giant number of snowflakes, but I thought, ‘Why are snowflakes women?’ I’m not sure. Once you’re frozen, it doesn’t matter what your sex is.”
That's how choreographer Mark Morris recalled his inspiration for "The Hard Nut," his edgy, gender-bending take on "The Nutcracker," which returns to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York Dec. 12 after a five-year absence. The Mark Morris Dance Group's production, which has become a holiday tradition in its own right, breaks from the traditional "Nutcracker" mold by transporting the yuletide coming-of-age story from Europe to mid-20th century American suburbia.

Wednesday December 09, 2015

The Best Dance of 2015

Dance took off in a number of unexpected directions this year. The dance critics of The New York Times — Alastair Macaulay, Gia Kourlas, Brian Seibert and Siobhan Burke — look back at some of the biggest surprises.

Elegance Revisited The thought of a contemporary ballet can cause trepidation, but Mark Morris’s “After You” for American Ballet Theater honored both the art form and its dancers. Subtle and refined, “After You” is a modern ballet worth saving.

Tuesday December 08, 2015

Dance this Week: Alina Cojocaru, Liz Gerring and an Alternative "Nutcracker"

The Hard Nut and Mark Morris

Of all the many “Nutcracker” productions I’ve seen, this is one of only two (with Alexei Ratmansky’s for American Ballet Theater) to play Tchaikovsky’s score complete in the correct order; and (unlike Ratmansky’s) it has a live choir for the wordless snowflakes sequence.

Tuesday December 08, 2015

'The Hard Nut' Puts a Modern Twist on 'The Nutcracker'

Mark Morris' modern take on The Nutcracker sizzles at BAM. Twenty-three years after its American premiere, Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut returns to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (December 12–20). “The challenge is to keep it fresh, current, and surprising,” says Morris.

Monday November 30, 2015

The Choreographer Mark Morris's Nesting Dishes

One of the choreographer Mark Morris’s favorite places to cook is a tiny kitchen in an almost exclusively female commune near Bangalore, India. “The girls freak out,” he said. “They can’t believe a man is cooking.” The kitchen is equipped with two gas hobs and a lone light bulb and is open to the outside, welcoming in mosquitoes. Mr. Morris insists on cooking, although the older women sometimes disapprove of his methods. “The aunties are very strict,” he said. “They come in and shake their heads. ‘Oh, you’re going to do it like that?’”

Friday November 13, 2015

The Meticulous Musicality of Mark Morris

Morris’ intense musicality — his ability to interpret the accompaniment through movement in a unique, organic and interesting way — may be his most distinctive contribution. Although most choreographers have some appreciation of music, there are few with Morris’ depth of knowledge and his ability to bring whatever music he is using so kinetically alive.

Friday November 13, 2015

Listen Up: Santa Fe Pro Musica Orchestra & Mark Morris Dance Group

Such a treat it was to experience the Mark Morris Dance Group back on Oct. 27, also at the Lensic. This lavish evening, sponsored by Performance Santa Fe, brought in a troupe comprising 17 dancers. That is in itself substantial for a touring company, but Morris’ dancers always perform to music played or sung live by members of the company’s music ensemble, which is directed by pianist Colin Fowler. The Oct. 27 performance exemplified how closely these elements of dance and music were interlocked even while occupying separate planes.

Friday October 23, 2015

Dancers without borders: Mark Morris

An interview with Mark Morris by Pasatiempo.

Tuesday October 20, 2015

Mark Morris Talks Dancers Away from Convention

For all the nonverbal grace of ballet, a studio rehearsal with choreographer Mark Morris is a hyper-verbal affair.

Some comments are direct: “Facial expression! You’re looking at the inside of your heads?!”
Some are counterintuitive: “More and less.”
Others are morsels of praise: “He doesn’t look like an a—hole!”

The occasion for the rehearsal was American Ballet Theatre’s upcoming presentation of Mr. Morris’s “After You,” which the company will dance Wednesday night and throughout its fall season at the David H. Koch Theater.

Friday October 16, 2015

Choreographer Mark Morris Brings His Dance Group to Atlanta

Mark Morris discusses with "City Lights" executive producer Noel Morris about his crafta nd the underlying philosophy that guides his articstic life on Atlanta's 90.1 FM NPR station.
Listen to the interview >

Thursday October 15, 2015

Preview: For legendary choreographer Mark Morris at the Rialto, the beat still goes on

Fifteen years after its last visit to Atlanta, The Mark Morris Dance Group and the MMDG Music Ensemble will perform three works Saturday, October 17, 8 p.m. at the Rialto Center for the Arts: Pacific (1995), Festival Dance (2011) and A Wooden Tree (2012). While these may not be his most famous works, anything by Morris is a must-see.

Monday October 12, 2015

Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble will appear at the Rialto

There is a simplicity in Mark Morris’ speaking, and in his choreography, that belies the deep knowledge of music, mastery of form, and breadth of human expression that have earned him recognition as one of today’s pre-eminent living choreographers. This Saturday, his New York-based Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble will make its first Atlanta appearance in nearly 15 years at the Rialto Center for the Arts.

Sunday October 11, 2015

Review: American Ballet Theater in Mark Morris's Take on Manners

“After You” is a dance of civil behavior, of good manners that include good humor. Its courtesy is the courtesy of ballet, of orderly entrances and exits and the sharing of stage space, but also of classical music. The music is the piano septet in C by Johann Neopuk Hummel, a student of Mozart and contemporary of Beethoven. Apart from its inclusion of a trumpet in a chamber setting (the source of the septet’s “military” label), the score is conventional, distinguished mainly by the balance among its instruments, politely passing around thematic material like dishes at a dinner party. Even the trumpet is modest. It is this balance that Mr. Morris mirrors.

Friday October 09, 2015

Bessie Nominee Profile: Lauren Grant

Lauren Grant has been nominated for her overall body of work with Mark Morris, New York's seismic force in modern, inter-genre dance. In a Mark Morris Dance Group show, Grant is instantly recognizable—under five feet tall, she's the blonde, electric spark leaping across the space, a kindling flame in works like TheHard Nut, Mozart Dances and L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato. Morris may keep his work moving among classifications, but he has maintained a serious playfulness throughout his oeuvre, and Grant embodies that spirit of play whenever she's onstage.

Tuesday September 08, 2015

Modern Moves: Mark Morris Dance Group Performs at Juniata College

HUNTINGDON, PA.-- The Mark Morris Dance Group, a groundbreaking artistic ensemble noted for technically-dazzling-yet free-flowing choreography and the use of humor and eclectic musical choices in its dances, will perform three acclaimed works, "Words, A Wooden Tree, Grand Duo" at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. 

Tuesday June 30, 2015

Mark Morris premieres a friendly frolic at Tanglewood

Near the end of Mark Morris’s new dance “The,” couples sway happily in each other’s arms before circling the stage, side by side, running, their clasped hands uplifted. On Friday night, this little victory lap felt particularly resonant: Earlier, the Supreme Court had given us much to celebrate, and those sweetly jubilant duos — male-female, male-male, female-female — said so much, as dance often does, without a word.

Friday June 26, 2015

Dance Review: Mark Morris Dance Group Delightful at Tanglewood

Something seemed slightly off as Morris walked on stage Thursday night. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. It wasn't the fact that Morris had on a black T-shirt and pants instead of a tuxudeo. Then I noticed Morris' feet. You could see them clearly. That's because he didn't have any shoes or socks on. Then I noticed the 20 musicians already standing on stage, waiting for Morris' instructions. None of the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center had on any socks or shoes as well. Anyone who knows Morris' work shouldn't have been surprised. The legendary choreographer has always blazed his own unique path. And quite frankly, his idea to have the musicians barefoot and standing up while they performed was a stroke of genius.

Friday June 26, 2015

Review: Mark Morris Conducts at Tanglewood, and Offers a Debut

There’s nothing unusual about Mr. Morris’s affinity for Baroque dance rhythms. And as his immensely appealing dancers move about in joyful order, you might not ascribe much significance at first to how some of them sink to the ground and have to be helped back up. But at the start of the adagio section, the entire cast is sprawled out — dead, sleeping or drugged — save for Sam Black, some Orpheus or Ulysses in the Underworld. With his assistance or without, the others might rise to their feet, but only to sink back down, wriggling... It remains unspecified what the titular article modifies, but if one thing is definite about this of-the-moment dance, it’s that Mr. Morris knows his Bach.

Wednesday June 24, 2015

Mark Morris Tests Limits of Flexibility at Tanglewood

These are great days for Mark Morris, whose life appears charmed with possibilities. "I always can have whatever I want," said Morris, one of the dance world's most important, and most musical, choreographers, in a recent phone conversation from his apartment in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan. He meant that he enjoys complete freedom to do his work with wide parameters for his creative activity. He believes that live music goes hand-in-hand with dance performances, and he insists on it — everywhere his Mark Morris Dance Group performs, "since 1996, when it became our creed," he said.

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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