Just returned from the Ringling International Arts Festival in Sarasota, where I got to see both Shantala Shivalingappa and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Here’s my review of the latter, performing a quadruple bill that included a new work, “A Wooden Tree,” set to songs by the Scottish eccentric Ivor Cutler. As was announced just a few days before the show, Baryshnikov performed; he was clearly enjoying being part of the ensemble. “A Wooden Tree” is an eccentric, awkward little work, in which Baryshnikov and the rest of Morris’s crew are given free rein to explore their inner introversion. Garbed in Elizabeth Kurtzman’s dowdy Scottish wear – scratchy-looking woolens, caps, unflattering dresses, sweater-vests – they interact, clumsily court, briefly couple, or act out little scenes. In a way, it amounts to a pantomime. It feels experimental and awkward, less glib than some of his recent works.

I also interviewed Shantala Shivalingappa. That interview will be posted soon….

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