Renowned choreographer Mark Morris is thrilled to bring his company, Mark Morris Dance Group, to The Egg on Friday.
“We have a long history at The Egg and it’s so great to be back,” he said. “It’s such a relief. The past two years have been appalling and horrible. I had to keep my dances at a bedroom size in case of illness, that’s also why the dancers know all the parts so anyone can step in.
Morris will bring three of his dances: the duet “Jenn and Spencer” (2013); “Words” (2014) for 16 dancers; and “Gloria” (1981) for 10 dancers.
The reasons he chose these dances were the size of the venue and because they were part of a small spring tour that included shows in Virginia and Florida. This concert is his last stop.
An even more fundamental reason these dances were chosen is, “We got them,” Morris said with a laugh.
His dances are known for their whimsical spirit, layered, humanistic vibe, and musical expressiveness. But for those unfamiliar with Morris’ work, they should know: that he founded his now international company in 1980 and currently employs 20 dancers; has created over 150 dances for the company as well as over 20 commissioned works for other ballet companies as well as works for opera companies including the Metropolitan Opera.
Furthermore, it mainly uses live music and since 1996 has employed its own musical ensemble of up to 70 musicians. received numerous honorary doctorates as well as awards, including induction into the National Museum of Dance’s Whitney Hall of Fame; and since 2001 has had its own Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, which serves up to 1,500 people in the community, offering dance lessons to students of all ages and experience levels.
It’s no wonder that last year, when he needed to fill slots in his company, up to 400 dancers came to audition and he “hired a few and some joined. right away,” he said, adding that he had little turnover.
But what Morris is best known for – he also conducts and sings – is his connection to the music he dances to and the way it inspires and integrates those dances.
“I listen to music all the time,” he said. ” That’s what I like. Each dance begins with live music.
He was listening to a violin sonata by Henry Cowell when he conceived “Jenn and Spencer”.
“I love Cowell’s music and I put the dance together for two specific dancers and it all fell into place quickly,” Morris said.
Pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and violinist Georgy Valtchev will perform.
“Words” is also for violin and piano, but these are taken from some of the 18 “Songs Without Words” that Felix Mendelssohn wrote.
“It was created for any number of dancers for a Southeast Asia tour, and we weren’t sure what theaters and situations we would be dancing in, whether it was a floor not theatrical or even of a lawn,” Morris said. .
“It was also for any number of songs and musicians – to be extracted as needed. We could even whistle it if necessary. It is fully adaptable.
“Gloria” uses Vivaldi’s “Gloria in D” but because it requires vocals and an orchestra, it will be danced to a recording. It was also designed over 40 years ago for a pickup truck company and Morris said he doesn’t remember much of its genesis.
Morris is now 65 and considers his work as a choreographer a full-time job.
“I’m always working on a new dance and the dancers too are always rehearsing, going to class or maintaining the repertoire,” he said.
In fact, he’s currently working on a new dance which should be ready by October. It will be on the music of Burt Bacharach. That he works there for months is typical.
“Developing a new dance in a few months is fast,” he said.
Being able to work live with the dancers so he can show them moves or explain to them what he wants is a wonderful change.
“It has been deeply devastating for the past two years. We had to do a huge amount of video and zoom. It was incredibly difficult. We masked up and did what we could safely. It was all on deck,” Morris said.
He maintains this cautious approach for every stop on a tour; “We don’t just show up,” he said. Someone visits the rooms beforehand to check the floors, the pit, the lighting, which determines the repertoire.
“A huge amount of detail is done,” he said. “The conditions have to be right to do the job.”
And for all the tours, Morris will be there – except for the Albany show, because other commitments will keep him in New York.
Mark Morris Dance Group
WHEN: Friday, March 11, 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Egg
HOW MUCH: $36
MORE INFO: www.theegg.org; 518 473-1845
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts