Mark Morris’s “Dido and Aeneas” at Mostly Mozart (DanceTabs)

On August 23rd, I saw Mark Morris’s “Dido and Aeneas” at the Mostly Mozart Festival. Last time I saw it, in 2006, at BAM, the role of Dido was danced by Amber Star Merkens, while the Sorceress was performed by the irreverent redhead Bradon McDonald. This time, Merkens took on both roles, which is closer to the original—when the piece premiered, in 1989, Morris danced both roles. It makes for a striking study in contrasts, and invites observations about gender and human nature. Here is my review for DanceTabs.
And a short excerpt:

“Mark Morris created his version of Dido and Aeneas in 1989, when he was the choreographer in residence at la Monnaie, in Brussels. It was a difficult time in his career – his works were often disparaged, even ridiculed, by the local press, and audiences never really took to his irreverent attitude, or to his self-consciously “plain” style of movement. He was far from home, and feeling panicky because of the escalating AIDS epidemic, a horrifying scourge that was taking many of his friends. As he recently told Joan Acocella (video link or see below), “I assumed that I was next.” His way of responding was to make a dance using Purcell’s opera, about a Queen who is forsaken by her lover and dies of a broken heart. As he told Acocella, he thought: “before I die, let me make up this dance about love and sex and death.”


A wonderful interview with Amber Star Merkens

…of Mark Morris Dance Group, by Gia Kourlas, in TimeOut.
She’ll be dancing the roles of  Dido and the Sorceress in Morris’s Dido and Aeneas at Mostly Mozart this week. I’ve always found her a fascinating dancer.
One of my favorite passages from the interview:

“It really is being like carried along by the music…. I basically feel like I’m also singing the role, which is thrilling for me. It almost feels like the music is coming up through me [from the pit]….It feels like you’re singing what you’re saying.”

The role of criticism

In her Foreword to “Repertory in Review,” Nancy Reynolds writes:
“In quoting from so many reviews, it is not my intention to leave the impression that critics have the last word in determining a work’s value, but one must accept the fact that they often leave the only written record we have, and that their opinions, informed or otherwise, are part of the historical record.”

Stopping Time: Shantala Shivalingappa, Trisha Brown, and Steven McRae ( Faster Times)

Last November, I saw a remarkable one-woman-show by the Indian-born dancer and choreographer Shantala Shivalingappa. My review for The Faster Times is here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“A slight, striking girl of Indian descent who grew up in Paris in a home filled with music and dance (her mother, Savitry Nair, was a dancer), Shivalingappa has long arms and a slender, beautifully-proportioned frame and head. In addition to a crisp, clean technique in everything she does—and the lightest, most surprising of jumps—she seems able to perform feats of shape-shifting which alter one’s perception of her from moment to moment. With an internal flip of the switch, she transforms herself from the laughing Shiva—standing in contraposto on one leg with the other held aloft in attitude, while nonchalantly holding out a hand, fingers resting elegantly on the air—to an evil demon—curled lips, flaming eyes, rigid pose—shocked into defeat by Shiva’s smile.”

Smuin Ballet at the Joyce Theatre (Faster Times)

On August 14, I saw the Smuin Ballet at the Joyce. They performed Smuin’s Medea; Trey McIntyre’s Oh, Inverted World, from 2010; and Soon These Two Worlds, by Amy Seiwert (2009). My review for The Faster Times is here.

And here is a short excerpt:

“The best work of the evening, and the one that most suited the dancers, was surely Oh, Inverted World, by Trey McIntyre. There’s a plainspoken-ness to his work that I’ve always found refreshing. His dances draw their tone from the people with whom he collaborates: young, dynamic, normal but conflicted, with the particular vulnerabilities of the young. Inverted World is set to songs by the indie-rock band The Shins; I couldn’t make out the words, but they sounded like just what you would expect, slightly plaintive, energetic expressions of teenage angst and enthusiasm. The dance reflected these feelings perfectly: boys and girls in simplified sports attire, cavorting and pairing up vigorously, their antics tempered by the occasional eruption of awkwardness and misanthropy. As in Rebel Without a Cause, Loneliness and rage lay close to the surface of collegiality and horseplay.”

Dance Heginbotham at Jacob’s Pillow (for DanceTabs)

On August 8, I saw Dance Heginbotham, a new dance company led by John Heginbotham (a longtime member of the Mark Morris Dance Group) at Jacob’s Pilow. You can read my review for DanceTabs here.
And here is a short excerpt:

“Heginbotham has always exhibited a kind of quiet grace onstage, a quality that draws the eye without clamoring for attention. He is comfortable in a dress, never hogs the spotlight, and seems to follow an internal compass, an innate sense of storytelling. These qualities are reflected in his own dances.”