Dance On! Video Vault

Curated Collections from the Mark Morris Dance Group Archive

Until we can share the joy of dance with you in theaters again, we continue to Dance On! (online). Dance On! Video Vault is a series of curated archival collections that provide a rare chance to rediscover dances from the earlier years of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

To date, Morris has choreographed 185 works, some of which have only been performed a handful of times, or for which we only have one or two performances on video. Through this series, we’re putting the spotlight on dances that aren’t as well known and are shown far less than some of the Dance Group’s most iconic dances.

Every month during our 40th Anniversary Digital Season for a limited time, we’re streaming a different collection of full-length works from our archives on demand. Our next Video Vault collection of the 40th Anniversary Season features two dances selected by former MMDG dancers Tina Fehlandt and Guillermo Resto. The collection, Dancers’ Picks: Tina Fehlandt and Guillermo Resto, will be available on demand through January 31.

 

Dancers’ Picks: Tina Fehlandt and Guillermo Resto

This archival collection features two Mark Morris dances, Championship Wrestling and New Love Song Waltzes, which were selected by founding Dance Group member Tina Fehlandt and former dancer and collaborator Guillermo Resto. These recordings are preceded by video introductions by Fehlandt.

 

Championship Wrestling After Roland Barthes (1984)

Music: Herschel Garfein – Championship Wrestling After Roland Barthes (1984)
Runtime: 20 minutes
Premiere: November 28, 1984 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival

Championship Wrestling After Roland Barthes originated as a study called Slugfest that Morris choreographed and premiered at the Dance Umbrella Festival in London, in October 1984. There were only two dancers in Slugfest – Penny Hutchinson and Guillermo Resto – and it was performed in silence. Morris met Herschel Garfein, the eventual composer, earlier that year when the two were paired together to collaborate on one of Morris’s works – Fort Arms, Twenty Necks, and One Wreathing – at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. Championship Wrestling After Roland Barthes premiered as a piece for 10 dancers at the company’s Brooklyn Academy of Music debut, on November 28, 1984, with a score by Garfein that consisted of instrumental music realized on the Synclavier II computer music system, alongside live and broadcast recordings of wrestling matches. The title comes from a collection of essays published by Roland Barthes in 1957 called Mythologies (specifically, “The World of Wrestling”). 

Morris choreographed two additional works after essays by Barthes – Soap-Powders and Detergents and Striptease – and in 1986, these two works and Championship Wrestling premiered together as a single evening-length work called Mythologies, which was only performed three times: at the Emerson Majestic Theater in 1986; the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom in 1987; and at the Cirque Royal in Brussels, in 1989. Garfein did the music for all three works, and Susan Sontag wrote the program notes.

 

New Love Song Waltzes (1982)

Music: Johannes Brahms – Neue Liebeslieder Walzer, op. 65
Runtime: 25 minutes
Premiere: November 4, 1982 at Dance Theater Workshop’s The Fall Events

As dancer Tina Fehlandt says in her introduction to this work on the Dance On! Video Vault, “New Love Song Waltzes epitomized the philosophy and ethos of the Dance Group in the 1980s.” Morris created this work as part of a commission from Dance Theater Workshop in the fall of 1982. The performance featured in this Video Vault is from the Brooklyn Academy of Music in May 1988. This was the Dance Group’s last show at BAM before they relocated to Brussels later that year, as the Monnaie Dance Group/Mark Morris, and Fehlandt says that they were “full of fervor – this was a really good show.” 

New Love Song Waltzes is a work for piano four hands and four vocalists (soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone), but in the 1980s, it was not always performed to live music. At this particular performance, not only was the company accompanied live (by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, with pianists Robert Wolinsky and David Oei), but the acclaimed soprano and frequent Dance Group collaborator, Lorraine Hunt, sang alongside her mother, Marcia Hunt (contralto). Morris later choreographed Love Song Waltzes in 1990, while the company was based in Brussels, as a companion piece; the two were most recently performed together at the Mark Morris Dance Center in 2014.

 

Note: Because the recordings are fairly old, the definition isn’t what we’ve come to expect from video performances. We hope the vintage appeal more than makes up for the sometimes poor video quality.


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