Mark Morris–Plainspoken Poet

Mark Morris at Ojai.
Mark Morris at Ojai.

I spent several months last year working on a profile about the choreographer Mark Morris for The Nation, interviewing current and former dancers, collaborators, and of course Morris himself. The greatest pleasure for me, was attending the Ojai Music Festival, where Morris had been invited to curate the musical offerings. (He is the first choreographer to be asked.) As everyone knows, he has a very musical mind, and his choices for the festival, grouped around the figure of Lou Harrison and the theme of “Western composers,” were eclectic, eye-opening, sometimes infuriating, and often quite thrilling. His next big project is a staging of the Handel opera Acis and Galatea in 2014.

Here is a link to the profile. And a short excerpt: “Morris is looking very pleased with himself, in rumpled cargo shorts, a red polo shirt, matching red socks and Franciscan-style sandals. With his broad chest and even broader belly, a scraggly beard, leonine head of graying hair and gleaming greenish eyes, he looks like a Welsh poet, a mischievous Buddha, a disheveled and possibly disreputable emperor….Something about the arrangement of his limbs as he perches on a stool—the extreme angle of his knees, perhaps—reveals the uncanny flexibility of a former dancer. “I was a fabulously good dancer,” he tells me later, and it’s true, too. I’ve seen the tapes.”

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/177447/plainspoken-mark-morris

Mark Morris’s “L’Allegro” Returns

Lauren Grant and Maile Okamura in Mark Morris's "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato." Photo by Kevin Yatarola.
Lauren Grant and Maile Okamura in Mark Morris’s “L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.” Photo by Kevin Yatarola.

As part of the spiritually-minded “White Light” festival at Lincoln Center, the Mark Morris Dance Group is performing Morris’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato, from 1988. The ebullient work is spiritual in the best sense: it lifts the spirit. Made in the first year of the company’s residence at La Monnaie opera house in Brussels, it reflects the choreographer’s delight at the resources at his command: a spacious stage, singers, full orchestra, endless rehearsal time. Twenty-five years later, it still feels fresh. Here’s my review, for DanceTabs.

And a short excerpt: “Throughout the piece, the mood and focus shifts from darkness to light, from the joys of nature to the hubbub of urban life, from animal instinct to human folly, architecture to philosophy. In one of the dance’s most blissful passages, set to the poem “As Steals the Morn Upon the Night,” ribbons of dancers trace lines across the stage….The rhythm of their motion remains steady. We feel implicated in the dance.”