The Broad Stage presents the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) debut with the MMDG Music Ensemble in Mozart Dances, June 9-12. choreography. The program includes a world premiere chamber arrangement of Piano Concerto No. 27 by MMDG Music Director Colin Fowler, as well as Piano Concerto No. 11 and Sonata for Two Pianos, all performed live on stage Main of The Broad Stage.
Choreographer Mark Morris has been called the “Mozart of modern dance” for his commonality with musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mark Morris’ prolific dance, dedication to music and precocious talent set him apart as a choreographer and director of modern dance, ballet and opera.
In honor of the European composer to whom he is compared, Mark Morris was commissioned by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts to create a dance for Mozart’s 250th birthday celebration. The result was Mozart’s acclaimed dances, which his company, Mark Morris Dance Group, premiered in 2006. Three piano compositions inspired these dances and are performed live as his company of dancers perform what critics and fans called it “music visualizations.” Mark Morris is so skilled in music that he often creates his dances by reading sheet music and responding to the notes with his own invention of movement.
His collaborators are essential to the creative process of Mark Morris, among which, for this work, the scenographer Howard Hodgkin; costume designer Martin Pakledinaz; and lighting designer James F. Ingalls, all of whom are renowned artists in their fields and partners in realizing Mark Morris’ vision for every dance piece.
Mark Morris said of Mozart’s dances, “I started hearing the concertos as characters…there is an incredible and touching relationship between the piano and the orchestra. The music to me is exciting, strange in its unusual combination, and that’s exactly where this dance came from.”
Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn said on Bachtrack.com: “In the three works that make up Mozart’s Dances, Morris engages in a beautiful conversation with the music. It illuminates the themes and instrumental vocals but is never confined by the structure of the music. Mozart’s music is filled with intelligence, wit and even passion, but it’s always held back by an overlay of civility and Morris found an effective way to convey all of this in his Mozart dances. Mark Morris stands out as a choreographer for his remarkable use of music. He has many different ways to express what he hears and it all adds up to the joy.”
Alastair Macaulay said in The New York Times, “Throughout Mozart’s dances, Mark Morris emerges as the most artistically alive musical choreographer.”
Judith Mackrell said in The Guardian: “Seeing Mozart through Morris’ eyes is even better…what makes this evening…is the very human voice that Morris finds in the beauty of the music All the audience has to do is be wowed by the experience.”
The Times UK proclaims: “If you could capture the essence of childhood play – boundless energy; unconscious immersion in simulation; relentless inventiveness; the pure pleasure of creativity…you would have the Mark Morris dance group in the dances of Mozart. .”
The Australian adds: “Mozart Dances reveals Mark Morris as the great magician of contemporary dance and its optimist par excellence. In this seemingly carefree work, he offers principles of profound beauty, not in a didactic way but with simplicity and grace.”
Founded in New York in 1980 by artistic director and choreographer Mark Morris, the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has been dubbed “the leading modern dance organization of our time” (Yo-Yo Ma), with its members receiving “the most high praise for their technical poise, musicality and sheer human authenticity.” (Bloomberg News). Live music and community involvement are core elements of the dance group, which has toured with its own musicians, MMDG Music Together, since 1996. The Mark Morris Dance Center was opened in 2001 to provide accommodation for the dance group, subsidized rental space for local artists, programs for local children and seniors, and classes dance class for students of all ages and abilities.
The music ensemble MMDG, formed in 1996, is an integral part of the dance group. “With the dancers come the musicians…and what a difference that makes” (Classical Voice of North Carolina). The Ensemble’s repertoire ranges from 17th and 18th century works by John Wilson and Henry Purcell to more recent scores by Ethan Iverson, Lou Harrison and Henry Cowell. The musicians also participate in the dance group’s educational and community programming at home and on tour. The Music Ensemble is directed by Colin Fowler, who began collaborating with MMDG in 2005 when they premiered Les Danses de Mozart.
Tickets starting at $60 are available at thebroadstage.org or by calling 310.434.3200, or visiting the box office at 1310 11thSt. Santa Monica CA 90401, beginning two hours before the performance.