“It”s a thrill,” said Mark Morris of choreographing. And it should be.

Paul Wong
MMDG dancers groove to live music.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

Morris”s company has been in existence since 1980, which is fantastic for a dance company. Currently they are building a permanent home. All of the space is being designed especially for the Mark Morris Dance Group. The permanent home is welcome relief, as the company will not have to change rehearsal sites.

MMDG is a company of dancers which has gained a great deal of fame. Traveling all over the world, MMDG has been in residence in Belgium, as well as taken the stage all over the U.S. and Europe. The company was formed when Morris decided he wanted to put on dances the way he wanted them. For Morris it creates the perfect situation his ideas can be danced by dancers of his choice. Morris sees the fact that the company has survived for 20 years as a miracle.

Morris”s training was not strictly modern. Because he was trained in a variety of forms, Morris feels that breadth gives him more options to choose from as a choreographer. He has choreographed for major ballet companies, such as American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet. However, the work he does for ballet companies is not performed by the MMDG dancers, and choreography created for the MMDG dancers is not danced by ballet companies.

Morris says of his process,”I only choreograph because of music. I study the piece and dance comes from it.” All of his recitals are now performed to live music. Local musicians will perform the scores for the dancers. The idea of having live music enhances each performance.

“Dancing Honeymoon” and “Gloria” will be performed both nights during MMDG”s Ann Arbor visit. “Dancing Honeymoon” was first choreographed in 1998 to recording medleys of Gertrude Lawrence and Jack Buchanan, but is now performed live. It is a dance for seven, making it fun. “Gloria” was first added to the MMDG repertoire in 1981 and revised in 1984. It is the oldest work that is performed by the company. It is set to baroque music by Antonio Vivaldi, which will be performed by a local orchestra. The dance for ten dancers blends joy with misery, and ecstasy with pain.

In addition to “Dancing Honeymoon” and “Gloria,” audiences will have a chance to see “Lucky Charms” and “Beautiful Day” on Friday, and “Sang-Froid” and “Silhouettes” on Saturday. “Lucky Charms” can be read as a humorous reflection of American culture. While the majority of his work has been choreographed to baroque and classical music, a variety of music inspires Morris. In each performance, the dancers strive to maintain a balance and variety.

Morris is not out to teach anyone a lesson through his choreography. Not everyone will have the same opinion walking away from a performance, and Morris does not object to the idea. Morris said, “Ideally I have a bit of say, but everyone gets his or her own impression.”

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