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Mark Morris Live from Lincoln CenterPBS 16 August 2007 @ 8pm


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#1 Mary Lynn Slayden

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 07:42 AM

PBS website:

The Mark Morris Dance Group performs Morris' lush and evocative "Mozart Dances" from the New York State Theater. Commissioned by Lincoln Center last year for the 40th anniversary Mostly Mozart Festival, the work premiered to three sold-out houses and wide critical acclaim. The dance is set to three piano works of Mozart performed by music director Louis Langree, soloists Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.

Some PBS stations are airing the performance on Friday or Saturday.

#2 carbro

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 09:22 AM

Thanks for the reminder, Mary Lynn.

I saw this at Mostly Mozart last night and will return tomorrow, and I encourage Morris fans and others to watch. Some of the loveliest dance moments I've seen in a very long time are in this work. I just pray the camera work does it justice.

#3 bart

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:00 AM

It can certainly be difficult to find this sort of listing on certain PBS websites. (Newspapers long ago ceased to feature PBS programming, at least out here in the boondocks.)

Of the 3 south Florida pbs tv outlets, the only one I could find to carry this is WPBT -- and that wll be next week. (Monday, 8/20, 9pm -- and Wed. 8/22, 1:30 am).

So, if you're outside NYC, don't assume -- confirm it with the website.

#4 art076

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 10:43 AM

Is anyone able to record this for a desperate West Coaster? It's not scheduled to air anywhere here (not even on another day) except in Las Vegas and Sacramento - neither of which are near me!

#5 SanderO

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 02:50 AM

I did not get the choreography of Mark Morris. It reminded me of abstract art.. and the backdrop of the stage.., visually interesting but I couldn't really relate the choreography to the Mozart. I love Mozart's work. Perhaps I see Mozart's work as a very structured classical type of music and this choreography often seemed so whimsical and almost "goofy" and the movements to my eye often lacked the musicality of ballet. I grew bored and listened more than watched.

Apparently I don't understand Mark Morris and he is not getting through to me. I suppose when you venture off into such individual approaches to dance, you are not going to get to everyone. Can anyone shed some light on what he's doing? The rehearsal bits they showed did not help a bit in my understanding of his work.

There was a telling bit about his biography where he said he was drawn to dance because his love of Flamenco which is a very rigorous structured style of dance.. but when he couldn't make it when off on found his own way. I'll give him credit for getting as far as he did. He's a dance celeb. But I am not familiar with his work except these pieces and was not impressed.

What's the buzz about MM about?

The bit about Beverly Sills was very enjoyable, I wished that had more of her singing and less MCing and smiling. She had done some amazing performances and she should be remembered as an artist primarily and a arts supporter cheerleader second. My sense... usually wrong.

#6 Ray

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 04:55 AM

I did not get the choreography of Mark Morris. It reminded me of abstract art.. and the backdrop of the stage.., visually interesting but I couldn't really relate the choreography to the Mozart. I love Mozart's work. Perhaps I see Mozart's work as a very structured classical type of music and this choreography often seemed so whimsical and almost "goofy" and the movements to my eye often lacked the musicality of ballet. I grew bored and listened more than watched.

Apparently I don't understand Mark Morris and he is not getting through to me. I suppose when you venture off into such individual approaches to dance, you are not going to get to everyone. Can anyone shed some light on what he's doing? The rehearsal bits they showed did not help a bit in my understanding of his work.

There was a telling bit about his biography where he said he was drawn to dance because his love of Flamenco which is a very rigorous structured style of dance.. but when he couldn't make it when off on found his own way. I'll give him credit for getting as far as he did. He's a dance celeb. But I am not familiar with his work except these pieces and was not impressed.

What's the buzz about MM about?



Sander, I find your reaction a bit puzzling--not the "what's the buzz" part; I too am prone to be skeptical when there's SO MUCH hype about one particular artist, usually at the expense of so many others. (In this regard Acocella's critism in the latest New Yorker was refreshingly critical.) And as for bored by a choregrapher's work, that's a matter of personal taste, to be sure. But it's your sense that MM's approach is somehow so idiosyncratic as to be unrecognizable. Have you seen Paul Taylor's or Lar Lubovitch's work? There are to my eyes many points of similarity--in the dance/gesture vocabularies, phrasing, and musical impulses. And with all of the daisy chain formations, and the direct responses to music, there are in my mind so many explicit allusions to Balanchine. I see what you mean by MM's "goofiness" (another Taylor allusion?), but the choreography is to my eye highly structured and musical--sometimes slavishly so, some think ("as if it's a crime," MM retorts). In short, MM's work is not commonly considered to be wildly form-breaking--and I think there's critical consensus on that.
So perhaps you need to articulate, for me at least, a moment where you were particularly confused or confounded.
And why is it unsatisfying for a dance to remind you of abstract art? I can think of more than a few Balanchine works I could say that about.

BTW I hated the way they filmed it for PBS--all those cutaways to the musicians, as if the movements of their playing were as important to see as the movements/formations of the dancers!

#7 SanderO

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:08 AM

Ray,

I am unfamiliar w/ MM's work and this was my first exposure so my feelings were based on a very small sample space. I am also an uneducated dance goer, but have been attending on and off for decades and now with more frequency ballet, which I find more interesting for any number of reasons. I have seen PT and I thought he work was very energetic and inspiring. Mind you, not all of the MM was unappealing, but too much of it was. It's a personal thing of course, and I may grow to like his work.

Nothing the matter with abstract art except when I don't like it. There is good non objective art in my opinion and junk. Lots of art today is meant to make you think and is less about "aesthetics". I thought the smudges were visually interesting, but not something I would "hang on my wall".

I suppose, I have opened up to more classical forms in dance which is where ballet is coming from and like classical architecture it has a certain richness that Gehry lacks. Classical expressions have endured for millennium and I suppose that there is an underlying reason for that. Frankly I don't think a lot of what we are shown as modern dance will survive the test of time, but surely some of it will and it should. I can't be more articulate because I only giving my gut reaction. I don't the wide perspective of others, just the narrow prism I see the world through.

#8 Ray

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:13 AM

Ray,

I am unfamiliar w/ MM's work and this was my first exposure so my feelings were based on a very small sample space. I am also an uneducated dance goer, but have been attending on and off for decades and now with more frequency ballet, which I find more interesting for any number of reasons. I have seen PT and I thought he work was very energetic and inspiring. Mind you, not all of the MM was unappealing, but too much of it was. It's a personal thing of course, and I may grow to like his work.

Nothing the matter with abstract art except when I don't like it. There is good non objective art in my opinion and junk. Lots of art today is meant to make you think and is less about "aesthetics". I thought the smudges were visually interesting, but not something I would "hang on my wall".

I suppose, I have opened up to more classical forms in dance which is where ballet is coming from and like classical architecture it has a certain richness that Gehry lacks. Classical expressions have endured for millennium and I suppose that there is an underlying reason for that. Frankly I don't think a lot of what we are shown as modern dance will survive the test of time, but surely some of it will and it should. I can't be more articulate because I only giving my gut reaction. I don't the wide perspective of others, just the narrow prism I see the world through.



Again, Sander, I won't argue taste--if I had a wall big enough, those gorgeous "smudges" would be right up there on it! I'm just trying to understand what about MM's movement, especially in relation to the music, struck you as -- dissonant? It's a reaction that's blindsided me, as, again, MM is more often criticized for being a slave to the music. While I've never seen MM described as "neoclassical," that appelation is implicit in a lot of the discussion around MM's work. Yet you see it as--boring chaos?

#9 vipa

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 05:39 AM

There was a telling bit about his biography where he said he was drawn to dance because his love of Flamenco which is a very rigorous structured style of dance.. but when he couldn't make it when off on found his own way. I'll give him credit for getting as far as he did. He's a dance celeb.


Just as a small point of information -- MM's dance background is not as limited as the show implied in the brief bio. He studied ballet, I don't remember with whom. He worked for Lubovitch, Feld and others. He also was involved in the White Oaks project along with Baryshnikov.

#10 Helene

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 06:32 AM

Mark Morris gave ballet class at the University of Washington. I'm not sure if he was on the teaching faculty or in more of an adjunct position.

#11 SanderO

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 07:49 AM

There is something to be said for the idea that a presentation needs to stand on its merits. Of course we all bring our own experiences to the theater or presentation. I used the term "goofy" to describe some of what I saw. I don't know what other word to use. It was movement. I don't know how to place value judgments on movement .. serious, less serious, whimsical, goofy and so on. There were things about his choreography I simply did not understand. Why are some of the pieces only men? Or only women? There are so many things I simply could not make sense of, if that is the right word. I suppose I am a prisoner of context and when I have a conflicting context I am confused. I think that is a valid response. I am sorry for my poor communication skills.

#12 Ray

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 08:01 AM

There is something to be said for the idea that a presentation needs to stand on its merits.


Sure...I guess...although I don't know a single living soul that doesn't interpret the "merits" that she sees. Anyway, that's the nature of my inquiry into your reactions to MM: the "presentation" seems to me to stand very well on its merits (which, pace Acocella, are formidable). I just want to try to understand your reaction because my gut reaction was pure pleasure; the faults I found were more nitpicky and became apparent to me only after deliberation (and, again, my natural inclination to interrogate work that's so universally praised.)
In short, we had exactly the opposite initial reactions and I'm curious as to why.

P.S. You say "I don't know how to place value judgments on movement," but I bet that's not true: a slap has a different value than a pat, right?

#13 kfw

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 08:20 AM

SanderO, if you haven't already read it, you might find the previous Ballet Alert thread about "Mozart Dances" helpful.

#14 Helene

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 08:33 AM

SanderO, you may be interested in Laura Jacobs' assessment of Mark Morris in her book, Landscape With Moving Figures: A Decade on Dance (Contemporary Discourse on Movement and Dance) . Each essay in the book was published previously in The New Criterion.

To say she's not a fan of Morris's recent work is an understatement. For example, this quoted by in Joy Goodwin's review in the New York Sun:

"It's time for Mark Morris to bounce out of his sterile utopia and get some damned life back into his dances


Edited to add: I just found the link to her Morris chapter, written in 2003, in The New Criterion's online archives:

http://newcriterion....un03/jacobs.htm

Here's the concluding paragraph:

Happiness -- artistic, social, emotional, physical --¯is palpably absent from Morris's recent work. Sadness is missing too. In truth, there's no real emotion. Does Morris derive pleasure making these dances? One doesn't see it. Add up all the arch absurdities, patty-cake postures, formalities dumbed-down, genres camped-up, nonsense pretending to insight, Pepsodent grins patronizing the music, and you have a choreographic realm that is completely artificial, a hybrid of the very artifice Morris originally sought to avoid. Only a self-congratulatory audience could enjoy this stuff, as it's the only audience that won't see what isn't there. Those who all these years have supported Morris with unconditional love -- extravagant praise for middling effort, qualified praise for bad work -- have hurt him. The boy's in a bubble. It's time for Mark Morris to bounce out of his sterile utopia and get some damned life back into his dances.



#15 Ray

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 08:58 AM

Edited to add: I just found the link to her Morris chapter, written in 2003, in The New Criterion's online archives:

http://newcriterion....un03/jacobs.htm

Here's the concluding paragraph:

Happiness -- artistic, social, emotional, physical --¯is palpably absent from Morris's recent work. Sadness is missing too. In truth, there's no real emotion. Does Morris derive pleasure making these dances? One doesn't see it. Add up all the arch absurdities, patty-cake postures, formalities dumbed-down, genres camped-up, nonsense pretending to insight, Pepsodent grins patronizing the music, and you have a choreographic realm that is completely artificial, a hybrid of the very artifice Morris originally sought to avoid. Only a self-congratulatory audience could enjoy this stuff, as it's the only audience that won't see what isn't there. Those who all these years have supported Morris with unconditional love -- extravagant praise for middling effort, qualified praise for bad work -- have hurt him. The boy's in a bubble. It's time for Mark Morris to bounce out of his sterile utopia and get some damned life back into his dances.


Great, provocative stuff, Helene! Thanks for unearthing that for our deliberations.


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