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Looky, another 2007 work, found Morris at his most playful. This series of blackouts and sketches is great entertainment. Studies for Disklavier, the original score by Kyle Gann, is wonderfully satirical, at once celebrating and sending up a variety of contemporary musical styles. Such distinguished designers as Christine van Loon and Isaac Mizrahi contribute a cornucopia of wacky costumes.

Candleflowerdance 'for Susan Sontag' is a 2005 work. Dedicated to the memory of the renowned novelist, essayist, political activist and filmmaker, Morris' piece is elegiac, even angry, in tone. Despite some powerful images -- the specter of death is never far away -- this piece is not the choreographer's best work. Sadness is not an emotion that comes easily to Morris. Stravinsky's harmonically ambiguous Serenade in A is the edgy score, here played artfully by the gifted pianist Yegor Shevtsov. Nicole Pearce's lighting evokes a haunting aura.

Members of the Mark Morris Dance Group in 'Love Song Waltzes'. Photo © Stephanie Berger
Members of the Mark Morris Dance Group in 'Love Song Waltzes'. Photo © Stephanie Berger

Love Song Waltzes (1988) finds Morris in rigorous classical mode. The choreography evokes the moods of romance -- aristocratic, passionate, and volatile with homoeroticism close to the surface. This ballet is unabashedly lavish and grandly emotional. Morris' swirling choreographic kaleidoscope is the very embodiment of the romantic waltz. Brahms' Liebesliederwalzer Op 52 was gorgeously performed. The beautiful articulation and precise vocalism of soprano Katherine Whyte, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, tenor Siddhartha Misra and baritone Mischa Bouvier and the limpid, dreamy pianism of Tatiana Vassilieva and Bonnie Wagner was as exuberant and impassioned as the dance itself. The richly intense lighting of James F Ingalls set the romantic mood. Morris' splendid dance ensemble -- Craig Biesecker, Samuel Black, Joe Bowie, Elisa Clark, Rita Donahue, Lauren Grant, John Heginbotham, Brandon McDonald, Maile Okamura, Noah Vinson, Jenn Weddel and Michele Yard -- was a treasure to behold. Love Song Waltzes is Morris at his grandest -- a memorable conclusion to a terrific evening of dance. Jacob's Pillow continues to make dance history.

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Copyright © 4 September 2007 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA


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