MMDG Repertory

Layla and Majnun


September 30, 2016

Cal Performances

Mark Morris Dance Group - Zellerbach Hall

Berkeley, California United States

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Layla and Majnun is a Mark Morris Dance Group/Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, California, production in association with Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago, Illinois; Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, New York; Meany Center for the Performing Arts, Seattle, Washington; Melbourne Festival, Victoria, Australia; Sadler’s Wells, London, England; and University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Visit the Layla and Majnun microsite

Mark Morris
Uzeyir Hajibeyli, arranged by Alim Qasimov, Johnny Gandelsman, Colin Jaobsen - Layla and Majnun
Uzeyir Hajibeyli (based on the poem by Muhammad Fuzuli) Translation by Aida Huseynova and Isabelle Hunter - Libretto (PDF)
Scenic Design
Howard Hodgkin
Lighting Design
James F. Ingalls
kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi or clarinet, pipa, two violins, viola, cello, bass, percussionist
Number of Dancers
60 minutes


Layla and Majnun is a classic story of love well-known across many Middle Eastern and sub-continental cultures; Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, and secular. Layla and Qays, are in love from childhood but are not allowed to unite. Qays (called Majnun, which means “possessed”) is perceived to be mad in his obsession with Layla. Layla is married off to another and Majnun becomes a hermit, devoting himself to writing verses about his profound love of Layla. Although they attempt to meet, they die without ever realizing a relationship.

This new evening-length work features singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova and musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble on traditional Asian instruments (kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi, and pipa) combined with Western strings (two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass) and a percussionist on stage with 16 dancers of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Howard Hodgkin, the esteemed English painter and expert collector of antique Mughal miniature paintings, designed the backdrop and costumes.

It is "a visually, musically, and choreographically unified and self-contained concert piece. An enlightening tragedy." - Mark Morris

Layla and Majnun is made possible, in part, through the MMDG New Works Fund with support from the Friends of MMDG, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Howard Gilman Foundation, Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, Elizabeth Liebman, a special grant from The Henry Luce Foundation, PARC Foundation, Poss Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

Funding has also been provided by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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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