Mark Morris Dance
December 29, 30
Once in a while, there comes along a dance company that simply dances, leaving more theatrical elements aside, ignoring traces of a narrative or conceptual approach, and sticking with the basics. These rare occasions can be refreshing and supply food for the soul, even if not all of it is fully gratifying.
Mark Morris is a prolific choreographer with an estimated output of over 120 creations, six of which were mounted on the TAPAC stage over two different programs.
The first program included works set to music by Beethoven, Bartok and Shuman and the second encompassed two Mozart dances and one set to a contemporary score by Lou Harrison. All were accompanied by an ensemble of five musicians that came over with the group.
To get the true taste of this artist one has to see a body of works, since some of them are too simplistic; individual dancers are rarely lustrous and often seem to be conserving their energy for off-stage activities - we get jumps that are low, unstable landings after simple turns and body centers held too loosely. This relaxed, carefree manner is mind-numbing in the opening piece, Visitation, and in various low-key sections of other pieces. In fact, Visitation itself was so loose that it seemed to have dropped out of Morris's sleeve while he was otherwise engaged.
But, on the other hand, metaphoric sparks flew in All Four, as the unsettling music of Bartok stroked the right choreographic cords in Morris. In some moments the ensemble work, imperfections notwithstanding, was captivating, as movement and music fused into one organic entity. Those are the moments that dance lovers are waiting for.
The second program was also slow to open up, but by the second dance, Double, and all-male group exposed the best facets of Morris at his zenith; the unique spatial awareness and the delicate architectural shifts were simple but deeply pleasing and indicative of one thing - talent. One will also cherish traces of impish humor and subversive hints at cultural codes. Even the array of idiosyncratic moves and poses pop all the time but eventually grow on you.
The second evening got its grand finale in Grand Duo, with its bold, strong compositions - many in unison - which channeled the creative energy inspired by the haunting music of Lou Harrison into massive, uplifting dancing.
The final performance of the Mark Morris Dance Company (Program B), tonight at the TAPAC, is highly recommended.