January 2004


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Mark Morris Dance Group

'Grand Duo,' 'I Don't Want to Love,' 'V,' 'Peccadillos'

by Odile GB

October 17, 2001 -- Sadler's Wells, London

The Mark Morris Dance Group has returned to London for a weeklong season at the Sadler's Well's Theater, showing a programme of works that had not been shown in London before.

The evening started with "I don't want to love" a piece that was premiered 5 years ago at the Edinburgh Festival. To songs by Claudio Monteverdi, that were performed by Mark Morris's own group of musicians including 2 tenors and a soprano, the dancers seemingly drifted through time finding partners and parting from them, coming together in various groupings just to slip away again. The absolute harmony of movement and music was astonishing to watch. Nothing in Morris's choreography is in any way extreme or forced which enables the dancers to just "be". The piece has got a feeling of soothing tranquility about it that lead to my not wanting it to end. Only the white, 70s disco style inspired costumes took slightly away from the impression of perfect harmony in my opinion.

Next we were treated to "Peccadillos" a solo danced by Mark Morris himself. Accompanied by Ethan Iverson playing music by Erik Satie on a tiny toy piano that had been placed on stage, the choreographer, now in his forties, seemingly turned into an animated toy. His lively and playful movements were remarkably fluid although his figure was clearly not as trim as it once had been. Not that anybody watching cared. The audience was taken by Morris's performance.

The evening continued with "Grand Duo", a creation choreographed to a composition by Lou Harrison. This powerful work for the entire company in a way manages to capture the essence of human life itself. The dancers reminded me of an ancient tribe moving through live, evoking a whole kaleidoscope of human emotions and experiences. Morris created lots of interesting floor patterns that can probably only be fully appreciated watched from above. All of the dancer, refreshingly of various shapes and sizes, proved to be exceptionally expressive and musical.

"V", Mark Morris's latest work, that had received its world premiere only the night before, closed the programme. Set to Robert Schumann's Quintet in E flat for Piano and Strings, it is another wonderful ensemble piece. Divided equally into 2 groups, one in blue the other in a soft greenish white, the dancers interact, mirror and repeat each others movements, creating beatiful patterns in the process. Morris has mixed the more traditional ballet vocabulary with unusual movements, like crawling on all fours, but at no point anyone could possibly doubt the harmony of it all. Mark Morris has a special gift to make music 'visible' that leaves you hungry for more.

Edited by Jeff.

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