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 Post subject: Mark Morris 2009
PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 8:16 am 
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A brief blurb in the Boston Globe's "names" section about Mark Morris teaching one of his dances to students. Scroll down to the item titled School work

Morris' group performs in Boston soon.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:13 am 
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From Keith Powers in the Boston Herald:
Quote:
Mark Morris: True lord of the dance
If average humans could dance, Mark Morris would be their choreographer.

They can, and he is.

Morris’ repertory show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, part of his annual Celebrity Series visit that opened Thursday evening, showed how normal-looking people - perhaps stronger and more artistic than most of us, but definitely not rail-thin and spooky - can interpret sophisticated music with skill and meaning.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:44 am 
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From Thea Singer in the Boston Globe:
Quote:
Motion and emotion - Despite technical brilliance, Mark Morris troupe never catches fire
Choreographer Mark Morris's dances are looking a bit less full-throated these days. What exactly was missing from the three Morris classics ... is hard to pin down: The renowned musicality was intact, with the steps and gestures and multi-layered invention springing from the score. The live music was exquisitely played and sung by the company's own ensemble, with several artists appearing courtesy of Emmanuel Music. And the technically acute dancers were bursting with brio. And yet.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:52 am 
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From Marcia Siegel in the Boston Phoenix:
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Note shapes - Mark Morris at the Majestic
Modern-dance repertory is mostly a historical category these days, if not an oxymoron, so when the Celebrity Series announced that the Mark Morris Dance Group would do three older pieces for its annual Boston appearance, we got a chance to revisit works we haven't seen in a while. Morris's fine company of 19 dancers brought along a feast of Schubert, Bartók, and Schumann performed by its own ensemble of musicians plus mezzo-soprano Katherine Growdon and five singers from Emmanuel Music.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:42 pm 
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The Mark Morris Dance Group appears at Seattle's Paramount Theatre in partnership with the Seattle Theatre Group and the Seattle Symphony, May 1-3, 2009. The program is "Mozart Dances." Michael Upchurch previews the program in the Seattle Times:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 11:38 am 
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In the Seattle Times, Michael Upchurch reviews the Friday, May 1, 2009 performance of "Mozart Dances" at Seattle's Paramount Theatre:

Seattle Times


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 7:40 am 
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From David Perkins in the Boston Globe:
Quote:
A (too?) comfortable day of dance
Choreographer Mark Morris and his dance company returned to Tanglewood this week for his sixth residency - a visit that included, for the first time, teaching the famous summer academy’s musicians something about dance.
....
Wednesday night’s performance at Seiji Ozawa Hall .... included two world premieres (both commissioned in part by the Tanglewood Music Center), with the superb accompanying talent of Tanglewood Music Center fellows and two guest artists, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax.

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 Post subject: Mark Morris, UK tour 2009
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 4:57 am 
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Italian Concerto, Going Away Party, Three Preludes, Grand Duo
Mark Morris Dance Group
Derngate, Northampton, UK; October 20, 2009


Variety is the spice of life, and Mark Morris and his diverse company of dancers certainly gave the Northampton audience that. But the opening did not auger well. Although “Italian Concerto”, named after the Bach piano score to which it is danced, expands into the more flowing dance usually associated with Morris in the final movement, the beauty of the music is lost as one’s thoughts focus on the far too dominant gestures and mime. Many are repeated time and again including the hand thrust forward with the fingers splayed, the flat palms, the heavy clumping walk, and was that really a man fishing? They clearly all mean something, but what is kept hidden.

Things picked up enormously with “Going Away Party”, a colourful, real let your hair down piece danced to songs from Bob Willis and the Texas Playboys. Indeed, it is such great fun that it is often presented as a closing work.

Set on three couples and an odd male, Morris’ take on a barn dance looks easy but is in fact very intricate and precise. His choreography constantly changes the group’s shape and orientation as it breaks and reforms, and the couples swap partners. There is plenty of light and irreverent humour as Morris plays with lyrics such as “Seen my milk cow?” and visually as he shows us the men peeing behind the barn.

The dancers’ characters shone through. Bradon McDonald was excellent as the odd man out who is leaving town, a role originally taken by Morris, and who is knitted into the proceedings but whom, ultimately, is forgotten. Samuel Black, Domingo Estrada Jr., Lauren Grant, Maile Okumura, Noah Vinson and Julie Worden flirted and played with each other as if they did not have a care in the world. It was great and had everyone smiling. But, as if it was not entertaining enough though, I just couldn’t help thinking just how much more fun it would have been with live music as is sometimes the case in the US.

“Three Preludes” is three solos danced to Gershwin’s “Preludes for Piano”, and originally created for Mikhail Baryshnikov. In Northampton, Bradon McDonald was appropriately spirited, somewhat melancholic, and playful as he bounced, jumped and skipped around every inch of the stage.

Although less than ten minutes long, “Three Preludes” is a hugely interesting work. At first sight it seems almost cartoon-like, and as if it should be humorous, yet there is an underlying tension about it, and more than a hint of expressionism. Apart from the dancer, and it is a piece that I suspect could be performed in many different ways, a central feature is Isaac Mizrahi’s heavily stylised costume. The white gloves and socks, set off against a black top, trousers and shoes serve brilliantly to emphasise the footwork and the seemingly throwaway, but all important, hand and arm gestures.

“Grand Duo” made for a dramatic and thrilling end to the evening. Generally considered one of his signature works, this is Morris and his company at their best. Dramatically lit by Michael Chybowski, there is a sense of tribalism right from the off that develops into a stomping, finger-jabbing circular ritual dance that evokes memories of “The Rite of Spring”.

It is exciting right from the opening image, dancers spaced across the stage in shadows but with their arms raised, their hands caught in a horizontal beam of light. The work has an almost primeval sense about it, with most of the dance grounded, with lots of sideways movement and bent legs. The footwork gets increasingly fast and exciting, right to the finale in which the dancers divide into two defiant, almost warring groups. It was as electrifying as Lou Harrison’s urgent score.

Live music is an important part of the dance experience for Morris, and he has brought his own music ensemble for this tour. On this occasion it was well-played by Colin Fowler on piano and violinist Georgy Valtchev.

The Mark Morris Dance Group tour of the UK continues to London (Sadler’s Wells), Plymouth, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Newcastle and Snape Maltings. Programmes vary. For full details see www.danceconsortium.com/markmorris.


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 Post subject: Mark Morris Interview
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:32 am 
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A wonderful interview with Mark Morris. Agree about Handel.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/ ... reographer


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:29 am 
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David, thanks for your review which also serves as a preview for the MMDG's two Dance Umbrella performances at Sadlers Wells next week. I agree that "Grand Duo" is one of his most memorable 1-act works. I can imagine that not all the programme worked to the same degree, as Morris sticks to his guns and sometimes this means that he can't rescue a work that has gone down the wrong track. The most notable example I have seen was "Four Saints in Three Acts" at the Coliseum a few years ago. however, the second half of the programme, "Dido and Aeneas" made up for it more than somewhat.


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 Post subject: Mark Morris at Sadler's Wells
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:13 am 
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Location: Rugby, UK / Taipei
Mark Morris Dance Group
Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; October 27-31, 2009
Programme 1: Empire Garden, Bedtime, V
Programme 2: Visitation, Going Away Party, Three Preludes, Grand Duo


You sometimes wonder how Mark Morris manages consistently to make choreography and dance look so easy. Perhaps that is the problem for some. It looks too easy, and his dancers look so, well, normal. His work could almost be described as low key. It has none of the over-the-top athleticism with its frequently out of place hyper-extensions that we see so much of today, especially in ballet, but in contemporary dance too. And you rarely find yourself sitting there thinking what everything means. But musical and a totally joy to watch? You bet!

For their London season Morris presented seven works in two programmes. “Empire Garden”, danced to the relatively unknown “Trio for Violin” by Charles Ives, looks at first to be all bright and upbeat, and the choreography is mostly fast and quite playful. But there is a more sombre side just beneath the surface. Elizabeth Kurzman’s costumes may be full of bright reds, yellows and blues, but there are also military-looking sashes, stripes and buttons. The dancers look like toy soldiers, and like toy soldiers they die in battle, most notably in one touching slow-motion scene.

“Bedtime” brought death rather more to the fore. Accompanied by Schubert’s “Wiegenlied” (“Cradle Song”), it starts off as a playful lullaby with dancers representing children in bed surrounded by others who seem to be their parents and an angel. By the time we get to “Standchen” (“Seranade”), and dancers with fingers placed to lips, as if saying “ssshhhh”, there is already a sense of a nightmare about to begin. Those terrors come with “Erlkonig”, which tells of a young boy’s abduction by a supernatural being (the Erlking of the title) in Goethe’s poem of the same name. There is a menace inherent in the choreography, which seems to depict a boy being called by just such a sinister figure.

“V”, set to “Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E flat major”, is a winner from the start and was a glorious way to end the programme. You could argue that Morris is overly concerned with matching and echoing the structure of the music, but when it has such an infectious, happy-go-lucky feel, who cares? And in any case, just because someone else may visualise it differently doesn’t make Morris’ view any less valid. His choreography is full of delightful light running and jumps. But best of all, and in total contrast, is the central slow section. Here the dancers crawl ant-like, their bodies full of sharp angles as the move jerkily across the stage. I don’ think it is what the music would ever have suggested to me, but it is brilliantly simple, and quite hypnotic.

Having set the bar so high with such an enjoyable first programme, would the second turn out to be a let down. Not a chance! It opened with “Visitation”, danced to “Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 4 in C major” for piano and cello. Performed in Nicole Pierce’s lighting that suggested soft sunlight, it first exudes the polite formality of folk dance. But as Morris cleverly and gradually develops motifs, the work becomes increasingly complex. Maile Okamura, was outstanding as the odd person out, as indeed she was all evening. It was the perfect starter, like a delightful consommé, light, bright and perfectly seasoned.

Even though I knew what was coming, I smiled just as much at the humour in “Going Away Party” as I did a week earlier in Northampton. And if that is not a good sign, I don’t know what is. Bradon McDonald was again outstanding in “Three Preludes” his white gloves accentuating every gesture, before we got to the real meat course, “Grand Duo”. What more is there to say? It is earthy and powerful from start to finish, the dancers driven on by Lou Harrison’s score for violin and piano of the same name. With its ever-increasing intensity and sense of ritual it is undoubtedly a Morris masterpiece. If you get the chance, don’t miss it. No sweet course I’m afraid, but then I suppose you should always leave the audience wanting more.

And so London’s aural and visual feast came to a close. Morris’ mixed bag of dancers, all shapes and sizes and with diverse backgrounds and training are all virtuosos, yet you never get the feeling they are shouting ‘look at me’. They do not need to, and Morris has the sense to realise what such a range of characters can bring to his works. Like Morris, his dancers seem to really enjoy what they are doing, not only moving to music, but moving musically. And we enjoy watching them too. The whole company is a treat indeed!

Mark Morris Dance Group’s tour of the UK continues to Plymouth, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Newcastle and Snape Maltings. See http://www.danceconsortium.com/markmorris for details.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 6:07 am 
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Mark Morris Dance Group, programme 2
Sadler's Wells, London, 28th October 2009
"Visitations", "Going Away Party", "Three Preludes", "Grand Duo"


This year sees the 25th anniversary of the first visit to London by the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG). I missed the original season in 2004, but saw them at London's The Place the following year. As one of the dancers from that era told me, “It was tough – sleeping on floors, getting kicked out of little hotels if we made too much noise and no money for anything.”

There were no more than 10 dancers in those early years, but today's MMDG boasts 19, with a state of the art dance centre in New York and a stellar reputation. The defining moment in the company's history came with the !988-1991 residence at la Monnaie, Belgium's national opera house. As Morris describes, they went from relatively poverty to almost unlimited money, stage time and, crucially, orchestra time, the like of which will probably never be enjoyed again by a contemporary dance group. This residency divides the company's history into 3 phases: pre-, during and post-Belgium. The initial period saw edgy works such as “Deck of Cards” with 3 playings of the country and western monologue, one of which had a solo toy lorry pulled across the stage on a string, and a second featured Morris in a chiffon dress; and “Lovey” to songs by The Violent Femmes with the dancers doing rude things with dolls.

At la Monnaie, Morris was able to create large scale work to live orchestral music for the first time, and “Dido and Aeneas” and “L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed it Moderato” represent pinnacles in ensemble dance making. If the post-Belgium period initially saw a return to smaller scale new work, opportunities to see the Monnaie repertory soon convinced opera houses in the US and the UK to work with Morris on original productions, and his most recent for English National Opera, “King Arthur”, was a giddy comedy, junking the original story and involving the singers in the choreography, much to their delight.

The two programmes at Sadler's presented work ranging from 1990 to 2009, covering most of the anniversary period, without delving into the pre-Belgium repertoire. Perhaps we can see some of the early works next time. Overall, the second programme showed us fluent dance performed by artists chosen not for triple tours en l'air, but rather for an easy grace and movement quality, combined with fine musicality. And what a range of music: Beethoven, Gershwin, country and western and Lou Harrison - Morris has done much to introduce this fascinating composer to UK audiences.

“Visitation”, a UK premiere for nine dancers, is a reflective, subtle work. Maile Okamura is the loner, dressed in gray with her own steps, while the others are all dressed in pastel shades, with the choreography suggesting a group of friends or partners. Sometimes one of the group will pick up the loner's dance and sometimes she tries to fit in. But in the end she breaks away and stand defiantly alone, as if saying – I'm fine the way I am. This is a quiet work, but with its varying number of dancers and its intriguing relationships, I look forward to seeing it again.

“Going Away Party” from 1990 is enormous fun, set to a series of songs by Bob Willis and his Texas Playboys. Morris takes the basic shapes of square dancing and transforms them into sophisticated choreography, with sly sexual allusion, sometimes almost as naughty as Ashton. While all is smiles during the dances, between times we see deeper into the characters, including a grumpy Lauren Grant, one of the longest serving MMDG members and perfect in much of the rep. A couple of the dances spotlight Brendan McDonald as another loner, someone people know but have not bonded with. At 24 minutes, “Going Away Party” is maybe a song or two too long, but there are few enough witty dance works and this is a notable member of the canon.

Morris created “Three Preludes” as a solo for himself in 1992 and Brendan McDonald was superb, dancing in the Master's footsteps with effortless precision, whether in the faster outer movements or the melancholy central section. With arms circling and short jumps, Morris' creation brings Gershwin's jazz influenced score to vibrant life.

Finally came “Grand Duo” from 1993 - a large scale work from the early years back in the USA. Funds must have have been on a much reduced level compared with the la Monnaie time, but Lou Harrison's meaty score enables Morris to use 13 dancers in a 25 minute piece but with only two musicians. It's often fairly described as Morris' “The Rite of Spring”; the faster sections remind me of the fierce quality of his early work. My impression is of a conflict between two tribes or factions. After a tense prologue, a full-scale conflict develops encapsulated in a terrific hopping step with arms stretched out, which is used for the programme cover. The third movement sees intricate circular patterns and the finale races along with great energy and the dancers' perfect synchronisation made the steps even more powerful.

As always, Mark Morris came out on stage at the final curtain call and the audience was delighted to applaud his success. If Morris can emulate Merce Cunningham's achievement by choreographing into his later years then hopefully we can look forward to another 25 years of his elegant, fluent and inventive dances.


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