Mark Morris Dance Group celebrates Valentine’s Day with LAYLA AND MAJNUN WEEK, February 14-20, 2022



The Mark Morris Dance Group will continue its digital programming in its 2021-2022 season with “Layla and Majnun Week” – a week-long celebration of Morris’s Layla and Majnun with online and in-person events and archival content digital, from February 14 to 20, 2022 .

Layla and Majnun Week includes a digital screening of Morris’s Layla and Majun, as it was filmed when it premiered at Cal Performances’ Zellerbach Hall in September 2016. In addition to one-week on-demand access to the film , the week will include a livestream conversation with the performers of the original production, online exhibits, and in-person and online dance lessons.

The conversation, which airs live February 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET, will feature Nicole Sabella and Domingo Estrada, Jr., who played the roles of Layla and Majnun, as well as violinist Colin Jacobson, a member of the Silk Road Ensemble in the original. production. The conversation will be moderated by former MMDG dancer and current company director, Sam Black, who also danced in the first performance. After discussing their experience with Layla and Majnun, the artists will answer participants’ questions in real time.

Layla and Majnun Week will also feature a multimedia digital exhibition from February 14-20, 2022, which will feature curated archival collections including conversations with the creative team, interviews, rehearsal footage and more throughout the week.

Additionally, Layla and Majnun Week will include dance classes featuring excerpts from the work on Saturday, February 19. Garrison will take place on Zoom from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ET, and a “Dance with MMDG” family class taught by former MMDG dancer Brian Lawson will be presented in person at the Mark Morris Dance Center and online via Zoom from 1 p.m. 30 to 2:30 p.m. ET.

All Layla and Majnun week events are free with a suggested donation of $12-$20 per activity. Pre-registration is required and available at

About Layla and Majnun

Layla and Majnun is Morris’ exquisite adaptation of this well-known Middle Eastern love story, voiced most notably by the great poets Nizami Ganjavi and Muhammad Fuzuli. In 1908, Layla and Majnun became the subject of the Middle East’s first opera, written by Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. This production introduces a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to a wider audience, reimagined for the 21st century.

This evening work features singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova and musicians from the Silkroad Ensemble on traditional Asian instruments (kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi and pipa) combined with Western strings (two violins, viola, cello and double bass ) and a percussionist on stage with 16 dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Howard Hodgkin, the esteemed English painter and expert collector of ancient Mughal miniature paintings, designed the costumes and set, with all the musicians and dancers sharing the stage space on platforms and in front of his painting ‘Love and Death’. . Morris describes it as “a visually, musically and choreographically unified and self-contained concert piece. An illuminating tragedy.”

This production not only introduces a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to large audiences in the United States and abroad, but has the potential to engage new audiences drawn to the subject. The home territory of Layla and Majnun is located along the ancient Silk Road from India, Central Asia and the Middle East to the eastern edge of Europe. This area, of current geopolitical interest, is also home to many immigrant communities in the United States—South Asians, Iranians, Arabs, and Azerbaijanis, among others—who are not typically represented among modern arts audiences.

Although the story of Layla and Majnun has been reinterpreted in countless poems, paintings, plays, songs, musical compositions, television dramas and films, an adaptation of this magnitude has never been shown in the West.

“Morris’ deep respect and knowledge for the traditions of music and dance – he never plays the tourist but is an artist, so any tradition Mark incorporates becomes organic to his work – as well as his vast experience in directing epic love stories, from Dido and Aeneas to the newly discovered score of Romeo and Juliet, make him the only choice to re-imagine Layla and Majnun for 21st century audiences.” -Yo-Yo Ma

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