Friday, August 21, 2009

Mark Morris

We went last night to see the Mark Morris Dance Company with our friends Jennifer Ales and Ellen Peckham. Jennifer is an artist and jewelry designer who made our 14k gold commitment rings, and you may remember La Peckham – we attended her birthday party last September.

The performance was part of the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lincoln Center program, and staged at Rose Hall, a new theater on the fifth floor of the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The 1,000-seat theater is modern but features a lot of warm wood, and it was completely sold out.

I am not a great dance or classical music expert – TD knows a lot more about it – but I really enjoy Mark Morris which I've seen before. I think it's the clothes. Or I guess I should say costumes. In any case, they're always interesting and very visual. In the first dance last night, the clothes for the men and women dancers were flowing tunics and pants in green, golden and ochre tones. The next dance featured marching band-like costumes in jewel colors of blue, red, green and yellow with tuxedo stripes down the side of the pants. The last dance, pictured above, had half the dancers in blue shirts and shorts, and the other half in white tank tops and trousers – a refreshing look on a hot August night.

Guess who was sitting in the row in front of us to the left? Mikkail Baryshnikov. It looked like he was alone. The two women sitting next to him started talking to him immediately. TD also spotted retired ballerina legend Heather Watts at intermission where we met up with our friend Brian Healy.

Choreographer Mark Morris, 52, was born in Seattle and formed in 1980 his own dance company which is now housed in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He was the resident artistic director at the Theatre le al Monnaie in Brussels from 1988-1991 and developed a reputation as the genius bad boy of dance. His dancers are famously "normal" looking – not the classic ballet type – and his work is known for its musicality, delicacy, expressiveness and humor. He choreographs contemporary dance to classical music so its modern and romantic at the same time which I love.

For all three dances last night, the renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax performed. My favorite dance was the last, called V and set to the music of Shumann (1810-1865), the romantic German composer. In a tonic of blue and white, the dancers moved lyrically around the stage. The beautiful music lifted the dancers with a lightness and a charm. The art work progressed in great waves of music and movement that went on and on, reaching higher and higher.

At the end the audience went nuts with applause. For the curtain call, Mark Morris came on to the stage with his dancers, wearing a suit and dark sandals with white socks. We four turned our heads to the left at the same moment to see if Mikkail Baryshnikov was enthusiastically applauding. He seemed that he was.

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