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Laura Jacobs on Mark Morris

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Thank you for posting this, kfw. It's a very interesting piece -- for those who want a one-stop-shopping piece on Morris's career, please take a look. While giving full measure to his early works, Jacobs is less fond of his later ones. Here's a paragraph from late in the piece:

Most of what I’ve seen of Morris’s choreography in recent years has been work outside his company. It isn’t cheering. His stagings for opera often lack coherence. And his dances for ballet companies have been openly contemptuous of classical ambitions. Are ballet directors so hard-up for choreographers, or just totally clueless? In A Garden, premiered by the San Francisco Ballet in 2001, Morris holds the dancers to the ground as if pinning down the corners of a canvas tent. He allows them insipid leitmotivs that have no metaphorical spin or even juice and instead just leave you scratching your head: That spindly tendu with arms hovering waist level, stiff like a Barbie doll—why do we keep getting that pose? He shaves away hierarchy as if it were a wart. It’s not only painful to see a willow like Muriel Maffre attempting to blend with the daisies in the corps, it’s perverse. Sandpaper Ballet, worse still. Let’s sand down the dancers, sand down distinctions. Everyone’s dressed in green unitards, the grade-school green of molding clay, and in drill formations they prance and wag rump en masse to the kitsch music of Leroy Anderson—Gumby does the Conga—all the while smiling like fools.

There's a good bit here on Taylor too.

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This is definitely worth a read. Jacobs seems to be saying, a little more sharply, what others have said about Morris' recent work. I don't agree with her entirely about "A Garden" or "Sandpaper Ballet" in particular, but she does have a point about Morris vis-à-vis ballet companies in general. I'm looking forward to seeing Morris' new "Sylvia" on SFB, but how much nicer, and more appropriate, it would have been to have Ashton's "Sylvia" instead, if it could have been managed.

I could have done without some of her other remarks – she seems to be saying in places, Oh he's just so nelly, I can't stand it. I also think that she's complaining about Morris' allegedly "political" agenda while clearly making aesthetic criticisms that are equally "political" in nature, with no acknowledgment of same. (And Sontag has never struck me as the Utopian type.)

The comments on Morris' and Taylor's different view of groups are also worth noting.

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Originally posted by atm711

That article justifies my avoidance of Mark Morris. [/QUo


That article would justify Laura Jacob's avoiding Mark Morris, for sure, but there are many reasons people have for going out of the way to see Mark Morris. I'm among them. By the way, in case you haven't seen the dance, long out of rep, Mark Morris did not wear "a diaper" --as Jacobs suggests, in sarcastic jest--in "O Rangasayee," of course, but a dhoti. That dance evoked an era in American Modern dance characterized by a fascination with the East-- Ruth St. Denis in particular. Morris first performed in at The American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina some twenty years ago. It was one of the most wonderful solos I have ever seen. I haven't loved every dance Mark Morris has made, but I am profoundly grateful that he makes dances. Even masters are capable of clunkers--but in the grand scheme of things, as Robert Gottlieb sometimes says, "So what?" By the way, a current work now in rep, "V," which Jacobs also discusses, was reviewed in Alexandra's "Dance View."

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