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Macaulay: How a Mark Morris Dance Reimagines Love

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Another worthwhile analysis of a dance work by Mr. Macaulay - hopefully this will start a trend.

How a Mark Morris Dance Reimagines Love


'Mr. Morris’s dancers are barefoot. You watch them not for bravura combinations of arduous steps but for unvarnished truthfulness. Over almost 40 years — the Mark Morris Dance Group was formed in 1980 — they have exemplified something that Mikhail Baryshnikov, speaking in the 1980s, identified in Mr. Morris as “outrageous honesty.”'

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Nice review of the same program by Gay Morris for danceviewtimes.


Morris’s close relationship to music is well known and, if anything, that relationship has become deeper over the years. The musicians of the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble earn equal billing with the dancers—in fact are given a higher place in the written program. There are times when I wonder if Morris is not more interested in the intricacies of the scores than the choreography of the dances. He doesn’t so much expose those intricacies, or extrapolate from them, as surrender to them. The result is that in “The Trout,” in particular, the music appears to have more clarity, complexity, and impact than the dance.


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4 hours ago, dirac said:

Nice review of the same program by Gay Morris for danceviewtimes.


That brings up the age old questions -
Is the dance subservient to the music, or an equal partner?
What exactly are a choreographer's responsibilities towards dance and the audience?

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The age old answer (!) might be for music to be subservient, if only by a hair, to the choreography. For example, Balanchine chose Mozart divertimentos or his Gluck variations via Tchaikovsky (Mozartiana) to set his ballets to rather than to the denser symphonies or concertos. Ratmansky did well with an unassuming group of Scarlatti sonatas.

I wonder why choreographers are drawn to Beethoven sonatas and craggy late quartets rather than the lovely but by no means insignificant Bagatelles. Likewise the Schubert Trout quintet might be already pretty well saturated with its own musical development and visual language (zipping fishing lines and gurgling forellen) to need much more. 

Anyway the Times had an interesting Saturday piece comparing performances of the Schubert quintet along with comments about the Mark Morris choreography - (at the end of the scroll) -


(Includes a lovely clip of Marianne Crebassa singing Ravel Sheherazade.)

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