Yo-Yo Ma Puts on Tights; Mark Morris Choreographs
DANCEMAKK MORRIS DANCE GROUP AND YO-YO MA At the Wang Center Feb. 25-28
Working together with Yo-Yo Ma, the Mark Morris Dance Group exuberantly performed three dances set to the music of Bach, Shumann, and Lou Harrison on Saturday, Feb 27 at the Wang Center for the Performing Arts in Boston.
Mark Morris is best known for his musicality. His talent lies in his successful synthesis of music and movement into an organic whole, rather than in his ability to choreograph innovative steps. What emerges in his dances is a continuous, ebullient surge of movement that exists in perfect harmony with the music. Yo Yo Ma's passionate delivery of the music on stage with the dancers along with the visual splendor of the costumes and sets-a murmur swept through the audience when the curtain rose before the third dance, revealing a backdrop of red and green waves of color-arrested my attention more than the choreography of the dances themselves, which often became hypnotic in the monotony of their movement. The dancers, however, frequently surprised the audience with breathtaking leaps. In the first dance of the program "Falling Down Stairs." one dancer jumped off the top step of the stairs in the middle of the stage and hung momentarily suspended in the air before she was caught and carried off stage.
The signature of Mark Morris's choreography is the fusion of different dance forms he achieves in his works. In "Rhymes with Silver," the dancers swivel their heels and move their hips to the percussive beat of a Caribbean rhythm before striking a series of poses reminiscent of Indian dance. In a particularly striking moment, a dancer waltzes with her back to the audience while five men line up behind her partner and mimic his movements. Six pairs of arms and legs moving in different directions provoked laughter from the audience.
"The Argument," the second dance on the program and this season' premiere, was the most interesting of all three, because it conveyed the subtle presence of a story line that enabled the dancers to display both their musicality and their talent as actors, In her dance with Shawn Gannon Ruth Davidson (who has danced with the company since its first performance in 1980.)conveyed both a jaded and aggressive quality of movement that was suggestive of a long-married couple.
The relationship between Mark Morris and his partner Tina Fehlandt was not so clearly articulated. Their subdued and fluid movements stood in contrast to the brisk footwork and flirtatious posing of Marjorie Folkman and Mikhail Baryshnikov. While technically flawless, Barshnikov delivered a performance that appeared somewhat restrained. Was he playing the role of a proud, aloof lover, or was the control that underlined his movement the result of his classical training? His stiff execution of the role rendered it less effective. Most dancers fail to match the stage presence of a star like Baryshnikov. Marjorie Folkman's energy and musicality proved the opposite. Her sharp movements bore a character similar to Flamenco or Latin dancing. She was a pleasure to watch. The Mark Morris Dance Group will perform next at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this spring.