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Mark Morris Dance Group Celebrates Valentine's Day With LAYLA AND MAJNUN WEEK, February 14-20, 2022

Online film screenings, livestreamed events, a multimedia Digital Exhibition, and in-person and online dance classes will explore Mark Morris's Layla & Majnun.

Mark Morris Dance Group Celebrates Valentine's Day With LAYLA AND MAJNUN WEEK, February 14-20, 2022

The Mark Morris Dance Group will continue its digital programming during its 2021-2022 Season with "Layla and Majnun Week" - a weeklong celebration of Morris's Layla and Majnun featuring online and in-person events and digital archival content, February 14-20, 2022.

Layla and Majnun Week includes a digital screening of Morris's Layla and Majun, as filmed during its premiere at Cal Performances' Zellerbach Hall in September 2016. In addition to week-long, on-demand access to the film, the week will include a livestreamed conversation with performers in the original production, online exhibitions, and dance classes both in-person and online.

The livestreamed conversation on February 15 at 8:00 PM ET will feature Nicole Sabella and Domingo Estrada, Jr., who have played the roles of Layla and Majnun, as well as violinist Colin Jacobson, a member of the Silk Road Ensemble in the original production. The conversation will be moderated by former MMDG dancer and current Company Director Sam Black, who also danced in the premiere performance. After discussing their experience with Layla and Majnun, the artists will take attendees' questions in real time.

Layla and Majnun Week will also feature a multimedia Digital Exhibition running February 14-20, 2022, that will showcase curated archival collections, including conversations with the creative team, interviews, rehearsal footage, and much more for the entire week.

Additionally, Layla and Majnun Week will include dance classes featuring excerpts from the work on Saturday, February 19. A Dance for PD "Explore the Repertory" class, designed for people living with Parkinson's disease or other mobility concerns, led by MMDG company member Lesley Garrison will take place on Zoom at from 11:00 AM-12:15 PM ET, and a family-friendly "Dance with MMDG" class taught by former MMDG dancer Brian Lawson will be presented in-person at the Mark Morris Dance Center and online via Zoom from 1:30-2:30 PM ET.

All Layla and Majnun Week events are free with a suggested donation of $12 to $20 per activity. Advance registration is required and available at

About Layla and Majnun

Layla and Majnun is Morris's exquisite adaptation of this well-known Middle Eastern love story most notably expressed by the great poets Nizami Ganjavi and Muhammad Fuzuli. In 1908, Layla and Majnun became the subject of the first Middle Eastern opera, written by Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli. This production introduces a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to a wider audience, re-imagined for the 21st century.

This evening-length work features singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova and musicians of the Silkroad Ensemble on traditional Asian instruments (kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi, and pipa,) combined with Western strings (two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass) and a percussionist on stage with 16 dancers of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Howard Hodgkin, the esteemed English painter and expert collector of antique Mughal miniature paintings, designed the costumes and decor, with all the musicians and dancers sharing the stage space on platforms and in front of his painting "Love and Death." Morris describes it as "a visually, musically, and choreographically unified and self-contained concert piece. An enlightening tragedy."

This production not only introduces a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to a wide audience in the US and abroad but has the potential to engage new audiences drawn by the subject matter. The home territory of Layla and Majnun is located along the ancient Silk Route from India, Central Asia, and the Middle East to the eastern edge of Europe. This area, of current geopolitical focus and concern, is also the natal home of many immigrant communities in the US-South Asians, Iranians, Arabs, and Azerbaijanis, among others-that are not typically represented among modern arts audiences.

Though the story of Layla and Majnun has been reinterpreted in countless poems, paintings, plays, songs, musical compositions, television dramas, and films, an adaptation of this scale has never been presented in the West.

"Morris' deep respect for and knowledge of traditions in both music and dance - he never plays tourist but is an artist, so that any tradition Mark incorporates becomes organic to his work - as well as his extensive experience directing epic love stories, from Dido and Aeneas to the recently discovered score of Romeo and Juliet, make him the only choice to re-imagine Layla and Majnun for a 21st century audience." -Yo-Yo Ma

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