CriticalDance Forum

Mark Morris 2004-05
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Author:  Azlan [ Sat Aug 14, 2004 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris 2004-05

Here's a good article to begin the topic for the 2004-05 season:

<a href= target=_blank>The Mellowing of Mark Morris</a>
Dance’s infamous bad boy settles down on East Side and in Brooklyn

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

Morris sidesteps praise as he hears the dance

By Carrie Seidman
Albuquerque Tribune

He has been called an innovator, a genius and the most important choreographer since the late George Balanchine, the Russian-born founder of the New York City Ballet. <a href= target=_blank>more</a>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

A fascinating piece by Tobias, in which she focuses on the qualities of the MMDG dancers:

By Tobi Tobias for Arts Journal

Typical Mark Morris! His company gets invited (for the third year running) to perform in Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival—where dancers rarely tread—and he weighs in with a program of four pieces, not a single one of them choreographed to a Mozart score. Instead, the bill consists of Marble Halls (from 1985, to Bach), A Lake (1991, Haydn), Jesu, Meine Freude (1993, Bach), and I Don’t Want to Love (1996, Monteverdi). Since I’ve written about each of these works closer to the time of its making, instead of talking here about choreography, I want to consider the second element that has always made the Mark Morris Dance Group extraordinary—its dancers.

From the start, Morris has gone in for nonconformity when it comes to the bodies he chooses to animate his work.

You may need to scroll down to reach this article

click for more

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Oct 31, 2004 2:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

A Dance Man's Pad, Well Choreographed

The New York Times
October 31, 2004

Mark Morris, the choreographer and dance impresario, 48, lives in a 950-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in the East 20's, approximately four and a half miles and one bridge from his home away from home: the five-story Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Oct 31, 2004 8:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

Consolidating from elsewhere:

From the SF Chronicle.

Mark Morris troupe draws Cal Perfs audience into the communal vibe of his 'Violet Cavern'
Steven Winn, Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic

In New England, it's the leaves. In Berkeley, nothing signals fall more certainly than the annual appearance of the Mark Morris Dance Group at Zellerbach Hall.


From the Contra Costa Times.

Morris' 'Cavern' fuses art, music, dance with style, wit

By Mary Ellen Hunt


A COLLABORATION of music, art and dance met up with imagination and wit as the Mark Morris Dance Group kicked off its two-week run at Cal Performances with the thoroughly enjoyable "Violet Cavern" on Friday night.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Oct 31, 2004 8:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

Older works surpass Morris' new 'Rock of Ages'

Steven Winn
SF Chronicle

For audiences who cherish his work -- as well as those who may not -- a prevailing aspect of Mark Morris' choreography is its rigorous attention to music. <a href= target=_blank>more</a>

Author:  Toba Singer [ Sun Oct 31, 2004 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

Mark Morris Dance Group, Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA, October 30, 2004

For real estate agents, it’s “location, location,” and for chefs, it’s “presentation.” For Mark Morris, it’s become “instrumentation” and occasionally, “cariacaturization.”

Though the world premiere of Rock of Ages is promoted as the hottie on the evening’s program, it will be V that brings the house down, and rightly so. Opening before a absinthe green backdrop, eight dancers wearing blue smocks with midriff slits, crisscross each other on the diagonal, in what is the program’s most balletic choreography. Their gossamer lightness is the chariot for Morris’s shrinking dance vocabulary. Set to Schumann’s lush Quintet in E-Flat for Piano and Strings, Op. 44, the step sequence is Hannon-like, as it repeats: balancé en tournant, ending in passé hop, run taken low and short, balancé en tournant, ending in passé hop, left arm in high fifth, and there it goes again, like an amusement park ride on a loop-the-loop trajectory. A surprise: just when you’ve accepted the blue smocks into your life, another battalion of dancers enters, draped in celadon. Arms extend forward as the dancers advance downstage. Back they go in whirl-a-gig turns, heads inclined, a seascape of blue-green algae. They run as arms open, embrace a partner, draw back, and embrace again. Each embrace is a joyful reconnection to their partners and themselves. These little counter-intuitive flourishes save the work from turning in on itself. You’ll see Eleanora Dusa-like extended arms, or crawling beastie voyagés—really funny the first and second time, but …

Surprises appear that interrupt something that was really getting good, especially in this last piece, when the dancers have finally warmed up and found their flow. They’re giving great ensemble, which spotlights a solo or duet cut short by…another end run. It’s like when a kid concentrates hard on working something out, and is embarrassed when he unexpectedly senses his own vulnerability. He’ll pull a face or do a pratfall, to deprive us and him of the beauty that’s always present when a child concentrates. Is Mark Morris that kid?

The same dancers stand out in every piece: June Omura is lithe and fully present, Lauren Grant, a long-time and reliably delightful MMDG dancer, consecrates whatever space she performs on, Marjorie Folkman is bewitching. Craig Biesecker and David Leventhal enrich the work with their deft, deliberate dancing.

In “Marble Halls,” (set to Bach’s Concerto for Oboe, Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo in C Minor, BWV 1060), platoons of dancers present themselves ranged in either vertical or horizontal lines. They wear Katherine McDowell’s eye-popping confections that recapitulate 1920s bathing attire—cut-off purple tights with red and goldenrod striped tank tops. They look to be kicking themselves in (or at least, toward) the head, again and again, interrupted by extensions in which knees are sometimes straight. There’s a sanguine tempi, where one line works while the other poses. It’s an intricate study and would be sturdier if the several dancers who don’t hold their balances, would. After all, the hosting score rests are so musically correct!

Morris introduces world-class musicians into the weave of his work. They bring their very best to it, and that gives us the right to expect the same level of technique from the dancers, but it often goes missing. Humor and music are signature embellishments of the company, and they add pizzazz, but only if the basics are in place. Without them, the music and humor feel like rebates for what’s missing from the dancing.

Lauren Grant is unassuming in this piece--just one of the guys. Then like some random, last burst of corn popping, she’s popped herself into the outstretched arms of a male dancer. Down she pops, and then, pop! up she goes, seated, facing the audience and then into the arms of one, then the other, of two equally-insouciant dancers. I flash on a postcard I saw once, of Mark Morris, his body painted by the artist, Keith Haring. This work brings to mind Keith Haring’s weirdly inclined little stick creatures, with Ms. Grant as their Lilliputian head of state.

Rock of Ages offers sentient men’s duets and quartets, with adagios that show the kindest and gentlest Mark Morris. Then out of the wings—comes another end run by two male dancers. Or are they stray players from the football game whose spectators had grabbed up all the available parking spaces in Berkeley earlier in the evening? There go our rising expectations! In this piece, steps that are usually done with straight legs are done with bent knees. Feet are neither pointed, nor flexed. By the end, you’re jonesin’ for a pointed foot, a full-out extension, or a dancer who looks happy to be cast in this work. Now that Jacques Derrida is gone, can’t we all begin reconstructing once again? A generous port de bras is followed by a moment when three heads turn right, while one turns left. It’s the odd man out that make the piece interesting, like finding a Swiss chocolate almond in a spoonful of vanilla Hagen Dazs.

The curtain was held for those audience members who learned too late that parking had been hijacked for exclusive use by UCB football fans. When it finally opened on the evening’s first piece, I Don’t Want to Love, some of us were possibly thinking, “I don’t want to live—through another Saturday night caravan through Berkeley’s tangle of blocked-off streets, and $20 per “event” parking garages featuring no signs saying, “FULL,” where there are no attendants to open the gate when you don’t find a space.

In that context, perhaps Marble Halls would have worked better to open the program. Some complain that the Zellerbach stage is too small for the works of major companies. In this case, it was too large for the spare choreography that was dwarfed by singers and musicians of the American Bach Soloists, who accompanied the dancers with selections by Claudio Monteverdi.

The flouncy white Isaac Mizrahi-designed costumes ran the gamut from empire teddy-length nightgown to long prom dress, with matching men’s ensembles. They whited out the line of the dancers’ bodies, and so, flying ponytails, flapping shirt cuffs, and bobbing empire tulle are what the audience saw. The music, while sumptuous, was too rich to dance to, forcing Morris to set the choreography in a literal, one-step-per-note mode.

In the third movement, the architecture changed from playful, though technically unchallenging, to more sustained, reactive work that did fill the stage. There was a steadying moment when backs faced the audience like columns of marble. Then arms, clothes and hair flapped the dancers away.

Finally, there is a ritual of supplication, introducing a coherence tendered by raised arms, with hands pulling sustenance from above. Balances are quavery once again. When there are no sets to distract the eye, every quaking foot and fouetté-arabesque dropped leg, seems to last a lifetime. Circling dancers carve out a space for a little solo. Dervish-like turns get the music and dancing talking to one another. The dancers, who all move like Terpsichore’s first-born, resolve their circles into up-and-down piston movements arrayed like differently-sized organ pipes. It is not a bad piece, after all. I decide that I’m better off here than at the football game. :D

<small>[ 03 November 2004, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Nov 19, 2004 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

"The Hard Nut" is playing for a fortnight at Sadler's Wells as part of London's Dance Umbrella:;f=37;t=000003

We would LOVE our US friends to post their views on this Morris spectacular in the Dance Umbrella forum, above.

<small>[ 19 November 2004, 09:54 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

From Theodore Bale in the Boston Herald: Deft footwork helps Morris evade questions on Hub scene
Mark Morris has been showing his choreography in Boston for more than two decades, so it seemed obvious that he would have an opinion about how the dance scene here has changed, for better or for worse.
Oh, boy.
Speaking by telephone from his studio in Brooklyn, Morris was willing to venture that the restaurants in Boston had changed. Then he let loose, ....

Author:  ncgnet [ Fri Mar 11, 2005 1:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

From Christine Temin in the Boston Globe: Morris genuinely moves
.... Boston has for a couple of decades now adored Morris for his musicality (and his devotion to live music in performance), for his wry humor, and his complete sincerity — when he feels like being sincere.

Author:  ncgnet [ Sat Mar 12, 2005 6:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

From Theodore Bale in the Boston Herald: Gorgeous ‘Rock of Ages’ a bit too perfect
.... The Boston premiere of “Rock of Ages,” set to music by Schubert, seems like another installment in Morris’ ongoing “blue” period. It’s gorgeous, a concisely elegant quartet filled with flowing arms and appealing soft gestures. But it is beyond sorrow and passion, a thing made perfect rather than human.

Author:  ncgnet [ Thu Mar 17, 2005 6:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

From Marcia Siegel in the Boston Phoenix: Cheeky toes - Mark Morris at the Shubert
.... Dance repertory has its drawbacks, chiefly the danger of an automatic response. Morris splashes a postmodern irreverence into his old and new dances, and that keeps them from complacency. He’s too mainstream now to be thought of as a true subversive, but he’s constantly playing against your expectations.

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat Mar 26, 2005 9:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mark Morris 2004-05

Morris clasps dance in his intimate embrace
by TOM STRINI in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The sweet naivete of the costumes carries into the choreography. Couples pair off in all three gender combinations, but "My Party" is mostly about the group.

Author:  ncgnet [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:49 am ]
Post subject: 

Here's an AP ariticle by Claudia La Rocco that turned up on the Boston Globe's web site:
Morris goes from silly to sublime at BAM
Mark Morris, the so-called wild child of modern dance, is unabashedly middle aged.

His curls are shorn. He has a paunch. He’s even (gasp!) a home owner, thanks to the Mark Morris Dance Center.

But his penchant for silliness and disruptions remains undiminished, as seen at his annual Brooklyn engagement, which opened Tuesday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music -- no commute needed for the choreographer, whose dance facility is right across the street.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:00 am ]
Post subject: 

"Mark Morris, the so-called wild child of modern dance..."

So-called by whom exactly these days? Lazy journalism writ large by Claudia La Rocco, methinks.

Marcia Siegel provides insights as well as descriptions in her review above - she is one of my favourite US critics.

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