Presented by Geraldine M. FitzGerald ’75, Trustee
The work of choreographer Mark Morris “is forthrightly humanistic,” writes New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella. “He addresses the ‘great themes’: love, death, grief, fellowship,” presenting them with a complexity, vigor, and musicality that have placed him in the top rank of American dance. Born in Seattle, Morris decided to become a dancer at age 8, first danced professionally at 11 and first choreographed professionally at 14.
In 1980, after four years of work in New York City with various companies, he formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG). A concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music four years later put the group on the map, and by 1986 Morris was nationally known, thanks in part to an hour-long public television special. His stature was confirmed by his accomplishments as dance director for Belgium’s national opera house, in Brussels, where Morris and his group worked from 1988 until 1991. From this period came such masterpieces as L’Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, Morris’ first evening-length work; Dido and Aeneas; and his pop interpretation of The Nutcracker, called The Hard Nut. During this period Morris also co-founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Since founding MMDG (which is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary), Morris has created some 120 works for that ensemble, more than a dozen commissions for such ballet companies as the San Francisco Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, and has choreographed and directed several opera productions. His latest project is King Arthur, scheduled for a world premiere with the English National Opera in June. In addition to a full international touring schedule, Morris and the Dance Group have been the subjects of several television programs and three films, including an Emmy Award-winning collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In fall 2001, MMDG opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn to serve as its headquarters and provide community outreach and educational programs. Morris will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.