3 Mark Morris Works That Are Timeless

Morris in 1984. Photo by Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, courtesy of MMDG

For the past four decades, few names in dance have stirred up as much reaction as American choreographer Mark Morris. Unique for his outsize persona, superb musicality and taking on themes related to gender and sexuality, Morris is one of the most prolific and lauded choreographers of his generation. At his Brooklyn-based dance center, the former enfant terrible continues to create for his company, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and set work on ballet and modern companies worldwide.

Morris has choreographed close to 150 works for his company. In addition to being inspired by music, many have narrative roots in mythology and literature, including the following.

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (1988)

Widely considered Morris' masterpiece, despite being created early in his career, L'Allegro offers a pastoral scene to the music of Handel and Milton's sung poetry. Dancers frolic, skip and transform into bushes, hounds, trees, foxes and birds, forming and reforming intricate patterns and groupings.

Dido and Aeneas (1989)

Morris' dance adaptation of the opera by Purcell is one of his most attention-grabbing works. He cast himself as Dido, the Queen of Carthage, who engages in an affair with Aeneas. The sexual undertones were controversial when the piece premiered, but the artistry of Dido and Aeneas has withstood the test of time.

The Hard Nut (1991)

For his version of The Nutcracker, Morris created a zany world where gender lines are blurred and hilarity ensues. Memorable scenes include a pas de deux between Drosselmeier and the Nutcracker, a snow flurry of crop top– and wig-wearing men and women, robot dolls at the Christmas party and a grand pas de deux danced by the entire cast.

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It can be tricky to get away for a conference, whether due to travel budget concerns or finding a substitute to cover your absence. One silver lining of the pandemic is that five conferences are now available online, no travel necessary. You'll find sessions to address your concerns no matter what your role in the dance community—whether you're on the business side, interested in curriculum development, need continuing ed certification, or a performer who wants to teach. Why not gather colleagues from your studio or school for an educational watch party to inspire you as you launch into the new school year?

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Health & Body
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Talar compression syndrome means there is some impingement happening in the posterior portion of the ankle joint. Other medical personnel might call your problem os trigonum syndrome or posterior ankle impingement syndrome or posterior tibiotalar compression syndrome. No matter what they name it—it means you are having trouble moving your ankle through pointing and flexing.

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Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance is digitizing recordings of significant, at-risk dance works, master classes, panels and more by Black dancers and choreographers from 1988 to 2010. The project is the result of a $50,000 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

"This really is a long time coming," says IABD president and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson of what IABD is calling the Preserving the Legacy and History of Black Dance in America program. "And it's really just the beginning stages of pulling together the many, many contributions of Black dance artists who are a part of the IABD network." Thompson says IABD is already working to secure funding to digitize even more work.

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