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Mark Morris Dance Group Returns to Houston Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

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Mark Morris Dance Group Returns to Houston Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

Mark Morris Dance Group returns to Houston for two nights, Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at 8 p.m. in the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater, presented by Society for the Performing Arts.

For more than 30 years, the Brooklyn-based Mark Morris Dance Group has fascinated critics, dance enthusiasts and novices alike with its amazing technical expertise, unique artistry and its signature use of live music. While in Houston, the company will perform The Argument (1999) set to Robert Schumann's Five Pieces in Folk Style; A Wooden Tree (2012) set to the surrealist folk music of 20th-century composer by Ivor Cutler; The "Tamil Film Songs in Stereo" Pas de Deaux (1983) set to contemporary Indian music; and Festival Dance (2011) set to a piano trio by Johann Nepomuk Hummel.

The MMDG Music Ensemble, formed in 1996, performs with the Dance Group at home and on tour and has become integral to the company's creative life. The core group, supplemented by musicians from a large roster of regular guests, has helped the Dance Group achieve an unprecedented streak of nearly 800 performances with live music. The members who will perform in Houston include pianist Colin Fowler, cellist Wolfram Koessel and violinist Georgy Valtchev. Morris's commitment to live music has led to collaborations with leading orchestras, opera companies and musicians including cellist Yo-Yo Ma in the Emmy Award-winning film Falling Down Stairs (1997); pianists Emanuel Ax and Yoko Nozaki for Mozart Dances (2006); and with the English National Opera in Four Saints in Three Acts (2000) and King Arthur (2006), among others.

The 57-year-old Morris was born in Seattle where he studied as a young man with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he performed with Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has since created more than 120 works for the company. From 1988-1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. Among the works created during his tenure were three evening-length dances: The Hard Nut; L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; and Dido and Aeneas. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Morris is also much in demand as a ballet choreographer. He has created seven works on the San Francisco Ballet since 1994 and received commissions from American Ballet Theatre and the Boston Ballet, among others. His Sandpaper Ballet (1999) is currently in the repertory of Houston Ballet. He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, among others.

Tickets range from $23-$83 and can be purchased online at www.spahouston.org, by phone at 713-227-4772 or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana St. Hours of operation: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday - Friday. For groups of 15 or more call 713-632-8113.

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