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Mark Morris, DC 2012: L'Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato

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Dance in Two Acts (chor. Morris, music Handel)

Mark Morris Dance Group

Kennedy Center Opera House

January 26, 2012

Cutting to the quick: FAN-TASTIC!

I'm not much of a Modern Dance fan but this was a richly satisfying fusion of movement to music, in a simple-yet-elegant setting. I don't like minimalism in grand classical ballets...but this is not classical ballet. The changing background colors, lowering and raising of scrims, judicious use of lighting were totally satisfying and appropriate. The live music by the KennCen Opera House orch., the Washington Bach Consort (chorus) plus four extraordinary vocal soloists made it a five-star evening.

The enhanced 24-member company moved as one. I loved the "walking in lines" segment in the second half. Masterful! Almost all segments were gorgeous and soul-moving...although I could have done without the "slapping boys" section (but even that brought a smile to my face). The ensemble did a great job and, while there were few solo and pdd moments, I truly admired the balletic beauty of Maile Okamura, the expressive moves of Michelle Yard, and the musicality and sweet-faced presence of Dallas McMurray. Bravi Tutti!

The evening ended with a fun-and-funny Q&A with the choreographer, looking delectable in his hot-pink sweater and big grey scarf, which he kept tossing back and forth around his neck. He was the cherry atop the sundae! smile.png

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L'Allegro's "line dance" is set to "As steals the morn upon the night" the penultimate section (No. 39) from Part 3 of the full Handel composition (of which Morris's dance uses most but not all parts in his own order.)

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Thanks, rg. It's a great piece of music. My favorite section in Part I is one in which the dancers listen & react to a chirping bird, with some lovely solo flute playing from the pit. Then there's the "hunt scene" complete with hounds chasing some girls, then pausing by the trees to "do their necessities." Very cleverly done. Morris has a way of mixing the sublime with the irreverent. I'm not sure that it would "play the Bible Belt" but it certainly was lauded last night by the Kennedy Center audience, complete with an instant standing-o by nearly everyone (myself included).

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