MARK MORRIS, hailed as “the most successful and influential choreographer alive, and indisputably the most musical” (New York Times), was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he performed with the companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980 and has since created close to 150 works for the company. From 1988 to 1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Morris is also an acclaimed ballet choreographer, with twenty works commissioned by ballet companies worldwide. 

Noted for musicality, he has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music” (The New Yorker). He began conducting performances for MMDG in 2006 and has since conducted at The International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Lincoln Center, and BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). In 2013 he served as Music Director for the Ojai Music Festival. Morris also works extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, among others.

He was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991 and has received eleven honorary doctorates to date. He has taught at the University of Washington, Princeton University and Tanglewood Music Center. He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: A Celebration. A new book, Mark Morris: Musician-Choregrapher, by musicologist Stephanie Jordan was released in Fall 2015.

Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. He has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity, the International Society for the Performing Arts’ Distinguished Artist Award, the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts, the Orchestra of St. Luke's Gift of Music Award, and the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award. In 2015, Morris was inducted into the Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Morris opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York, in 2001 to provide a home for his company, rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for children and seniors, and a school offering dance classes to students of all ages and abilities.


May 04, 2016

ArtsFund Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award


May 03, 2016

Doris Duke Artist Award

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

August 09, 2015

Inductee to the Mr. and Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame

National Museum of Dance

March 24, 2014

Orchestra of St. Luke's Gift of Music Award

Orchestra of St. Luke's

March 22, 2012

Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity

Smithsonian Associates and Creativity Foundation

January 11, 2012

International Society for the Performing Arts Distinguished Artist Award

International Society for the Performing Arts

April 12, 2008

The Jade Award

Irvine Barclay Theatre and Cheng Hall

October 25, 2007

The Independent Award

Brown University Club of New York

September 17, 2007

New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”)


July 18, 2007

Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement

American Dance Festival

October 30, 2006

New York City Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture

Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission

October 24, 2006

WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award


January 14, 2003

2002 Critics’ Circle Dance Award (UK), Best Modern Choreography

The Critics’ Circle

January 14, 2003

2002 Critics’ Circle Dance Award (UK), Best Foreign Dance Company

The Critics' Circle

February 15, 2002

Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance

The Society of London Theatre

November 19, 2001

New York State Governor’s Arts Award

New York State

June 04, 2001

Distinguished Artist Award

Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County

February 16, 1998

Laurence Olivier Award, Best New Dance Production (L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato)

The Society of London Theatre

November 28, 1997

Evening Standard Award

Evening Standard Newspaper

April 17, 1997

Capezio Achievement Award

The Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation, Inc.


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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