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.”
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