#DancerDose – Mark Morris
June 26th, 2019 by Elizabeth Radabaugh
This week’s #DancerDose was highly praised for his innovative and at times controversial work in modern dance. Once noted as being unconventional and embarrassing, Mark Morris’s status was solidified as being a setter of standards and solid member of the professional dance community.
His True Calling
Born on August 29, 1955 in Seattle Washington, Morris became enamored by the arts at a young age. After attending a performance by the Jose Greco Flamenco Company at age 8, Morris believed he had found his true calling in life. With dedication and determination at the forefront of his mind, Morris decided to become a Spanish dancer. By age 11, he was enrolled in extensive training programs where he was instructed on the ins and outs of professional performance. He soon began working with the Koleda Folk Ensemble and started choregraphing his own moves in contribution to the Spanish art of dance. To become even more enriched, Morris uprooted his life in Washington and traveled to Spain to extend his knowledge even further.
Moving To The Big Apple
Upon his return to the United States, Morris moved to New York City to work with the companies of established choreographers like Eliot Feld, Laura Dean, and Hannah Kahn. With training and professional colleagues in his corner, Morris launched his own company with 10 fellow dancers as they performed a concert of his works, specifically his choreography. The performance reached its peak when the company performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 1984 Music Wave Festival. This performance and the widespread acclaim of it led Morris into critical consideration as being a prominent figure in the world of dance.
To solidify his critical acclaim, Morris won a Guggenheim fellowship and began choreographing for a large variety of ballet companies while taking his own company on tour. With his choreography being spread cross-country, Morris fell short to many critics who were confused by his exuberant humor and imaginative movements that were deemed embarrassing by some followers of modern dance. Breaking guidelines and destroying barriers is what led Morris to be proclaimed as the “bad boy of modern dance”.
Around The World
Morris’s reputation extended across the globe as young dancers and other esteemed professionals were eager to embrace his take on modern dance. In 1988 Morris became the resident choreographer of the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels and expanded the company while creating some of his most prized and admired creations. His strongest works include Dido and Aeneas,in which Morris danced the parts of both Dido and the Sorceress, and The Hard Nut, Morris’s interpretation of The Nutcracker.
Upon his return to the United States, Morris began creating a minimum of five works each new year with his own company and by the early 2000s, he had choregraphed more than 100 numbers. His eye for rebellion and desire to transform the world of dance granted him a serious amount of success throughout his career as he went on to create ballets for numerous companies while sparking a new standard of what would be understood as modern dance. Morris was able to open up the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York which is now known as Morris’s company permanent home in the United States. Morris continues to inspire others with his imagination, rebellion, and resistance for failure as his moves leave behind a legacy that began as controversial but blossomed into something extraordinary.
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Elizabeth Radabaugh is the StarQuest Social Media Production Assistant. She loves everything Disney and delicious.