Mark Morris Dance Group Launches On-Demand Video Collections Of Early Works
In its continued effort to engage audiences through online programming while theaters remain closed, the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) will stream full-length works by Mark Morris this summer. Dance On! Video Vault: Curated Collections from the Mark Morris Dance Group Archive is a
series of archival collections that provide a rare chance to rediscover dances from the earlier years of MMDG with lively introductions by Morris himself.
To date, Morris has choreographed 185 works, some of which have only been performed a handful of times, or for which there are only one or two performances on video. Through this series, MMDG puts the spotlight on works that aren't as well known and are shown far less than some of the Dance Group's most iconic dances.
Every month this summer, MMDG will stream a different collection of full-length works from its archives selected by archivist Stephanie Neel.
Released June 23, the first collection, The Early Years, will be available on demand through July 19 and includes three dances from the 1980s: Dad's Charts, Canonic ¾ Studies, and Strict Songs. Each dance is prefaced by a video introduction by Mark Morris.
Dad's Charts, the inaugural performance of the Mark Morris Dance Group, is a solo that Morris premiered at the Cunningham Dance Foundation in November 1980. Set to Illinois Jacquet's recording of "Robbins' Nest," the dance is a jazz-structured improvisation making reference to scenes in Morris' father's life: keyboard playing, bowling, falling asleep in front of the TV.
Morris created Canonic ¾ Studies (1982) on the students of his summer workshop at On the Boards in Seattle. Set to an assortment of piano waltzes, the work centers on the range of movement in relation to ¾ time. The video included in this collection is of a December 1983 performance at Dance Theater Workshop.
Strict Songs (1987) marked the first of many collaborations between Morris and composer Lou Harrison. Morris choreographed this work, set to Harrison's "Four Strict Songs," for ten dancers. It premiered with the Pacific Northwest Chamber Ensemble and more than 100 members of the Seattle Men's Chorus. The performance in the collection is of MMDG at Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and the New York City Gay Men's Chorus in May 1988.
Later collections, available on demand July 20 and August 24 respectively, include The Brussels Years, 1988-1991 and Solo Works, 1980-1989.
The recordings of these performances were digitized between 2017 and 2020 with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to preserve the works on paper and audiovisual materials of the Mark Morris Dance Group.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MMDG has cancelled all in-person programming until further notice. Dance On! Video Vault is its latest digital offering, joining remotely created videodances, live and on-demand video classes, excerpts from performances, documentaries, interviews with Mark Morris and dancers, and behind-the-scenes features.
Dance On! Video Vault: Curated Collections from the Mark Morris Dance Group Archive, monthly on-demand archival collections of Mark Morris' lesser-known works, starting with The Early Years collection through July 19, 2020 at https://markmorrisdancegroup.org/dance-on-video-vault/