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The life and work of mark morris

The choreography is cleaner, the bodies are leaner, and he's even shed those famous wild locks. Marc Royce Every so often, Mark Morris's dancers pass a tranquil afternoon in their new Brooklyn studio. This could not be described as one of them. His company, gorgeous and panting, looks over at him expectantly.

They're used to this by now: To work with Morris, one must never confuse frustration with anger.

Mark Morris Images

His circuits work much faster than most. This piece is going to shift gears a lot. The redhead looks helplessly at two of his fellow dancers and mouths something. Morris whips back around.

I can see you in the mirror. He whistles along to the score, calls out eccentric direction "I don't want creeping"and even swans about himself, indulging every now and then in a music-box pirouette. Then the music shifts and he starts to frown. The ramp-up to the ending is all wrong. He stops the company once more. If I were referring to an artist I hate, it'd be Keith Haring. It takes some doing -- for a while, the studio feels like a busy airport -- but the shapes and lines eventually shake into place.

The two lead dancers have landed, with perfect panache, on their colleagues' backs. I tell him I don't. Mark Morris, the uppity squirt who got himself banned from the American Dance Festival eighteen years ago for crying "No more rape! He performs in fewer dances these days; he's even cut his trademark curls.

His company, now in its twenty-second year, is filled with dancers young enough to be his children rather than the friends with whom he came of age. This kind of durability is, to say the least, a rarity in the universe of New York modern dance. Melillo, executive producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which sits across the street, "is an extraordinary anomaly. Most choreographers feel as though they've accomplished the greatest task just by finding a studio to make their work.

Because -- and this you should put in italics -- there is no money. People of Mark Morris's generation, on the other hand, could have the fantasy of becoming Mick Jagger. White, executive director and producer of Dance Theater Workshop. He used the whole stage.

Mark Morris Facts

He valued the ensemble. And he made the dances about the music. So there was this critical response, in certain quarters, that he was heir to the Balanchine spirit. Today, he works in lean, clean lines, and his dancers -- at first a motley, even an ungainly bunch -- are almost regulation-issue. The asses are smaller now.

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He's the acceptable enfant terrible. His one-bedroom apartment of lavender and mint green is in a beige, nondescript postwar building in a neighborhood that's not quite Murray Hill and not quite Kip's Bay. You or I could live there. Many hardworking New Yorkers could. When he greets me at the door, I tell him this.

Mark Morris (choreographer)

Actually, I shout it -- Bach is playing on the stereo, and Morris is whistling, with equal vigor, right along. He turns down the volume.

When he speaks, it's hard to take your eyes off him. At the moment, he's discussing his favorite film images of choreographers. The line about him going to the choreographer's ball -- that's like the funniest thing in the world. I wish there were one. It's offensive to queers; it's hackneyed. Though the French movie was good. In the dance world, Morris is known for a personality as charged as his choregraphy.

Mark Morris

He speaks quickly, smokes copiously, and observes the world with cruel precision. He also has a limitless tolerance for caffeine. Has Morris learned anything about making people happy over the years? That's what I've learned. It can't be done.

  • The two lead dancers have landed, with perfect panache, on their colleagues' backs;
  • His body was heavier than the typical dancer, more like that of an average person, yet his technical and expressive abilities outstripped those of most of his contemporaries.

And though I don't mean to be particularly vicious, I know I can be. So if you can't handle that, you probably shouldn't really be in my company. Because he does exactly as he pleases with no consideration for anybody or anything. And if it makes you happy, then you can be his friend. And if it doesn't, you can't.

Dance seemed to be printed in his chromosomes; in her great book, Mark Morris, Joan Acocella conjures an unforgettable image of him jamming his tiny young feet into plastic cups so that he could dance, like his sister, on pointe.

His mother supported his interest.

  1. In the dance world, Morris is known for a personality as charged as his choregraphy.
  2. As a teenager dancing in the Koleda Balkan Folkdance Ensemble, he was already determined to do his own work. Morris whips back around.
  3. Because he does exactly as he pleases with no consideration for anybody or anything.
  4. His work could be hilarious, shocking, lyrical, raw, beautiful, and satirical, without being vulgar. The diversity of Mark Morris was nearly legendary.
  5. He was enormously proud of his dancers' achievements, and they were a constant source of his inspiration. His bookshelf is a shrine of doodads, covered in disco balls, penny jars, nutcrackers, Jesus statues, Ganeshas, half-mugs.

By the time he was 13, he'd taken up flamenco, ballet, and Eastern European folk dancing. When he was 17, instead of going to college, he went to Madrid to learn more Spanish dance.

When he was 19, he came to New York. Morris spent just four years dancing with other companies before founding a troupe of his own. It was also the year of the incident with Tharp.

  • Mark Morris, the uppity squirt who got himself banned from the American Dance Festival eighteen years ago for crying "No more rape!
  • Or is it not good?
  • He grew up in a family full of music and dance;
  • Because he does exactly as he pleases with no consideration for anybody or anything.

Now I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings unless I really want to hurt somebody's feelings. Do you want more coffee?

  • He's the acceptable enfant terrible;
  • Critics called him the "enfant terrible," and he developed a reputation of being an angry young man with his provocative choreographies;
  • He also has a limitless tolerance for caffeine.

Or is it not good? Maybe I'll make the other one. His bookshelf is a shrine of doodads, covered in disco balls, penny jars, nutcrackers, Jesus statues, Ganeshas, half-mugs.

  1. He studied as a young boy with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. By the time he was 13, he'd taken up flamenco, ballet, and Eastern European folk dancing.
  2. Copyright 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. He cast without regard to race, rank, or sex.
  3. Reactions to his work were strong.

A stuffed rooster sits on the television set. Some scraps on his desk are anchored by a giant Advil paperweight. He seems to know exactly what I'm doing.