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Mark Morris dance group to take stage at UMass

The Mark Morris Dance Group, an internationally acclaimed dance company is coming to the University of Massachusetts tonight to perform its innovative blend of live music and modern dance.

Formed in 1980, the group performed for the first time the same year in New York City and has since toured all over the United States and Europe. The Mark Morris Dance Group performs regularly in New York City, Boston, and Seattle, as well as in Belgium where it spent three years in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, from 1988 to 1991, according to the dance company’s official website.

The company’s first national exposure came in 1986 when it made a television program for the Public Broadcasting Service series “Dance in America”. Earning recognition for its imagination and artistry, it has impressed audiences everywhere with shows that are highly visual and musical.

The creative vision behind the group’s inventive performances is Mark Morris, an American dancer, choreographer and director. He studied various forms of dance in Seattle before establishing his own company in New York City. He received the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2002, and is also noted for his ability to appeal to mainstream audiences.

In Morris’s dances, music is more than a backdrop – it plays a uniquely foundational role. One of the group’s most outstanding aspects is its commitment to live musical accompaniment, a feature of every performance on its international touring schedule. Morris is known for working with world-leading orchestras and opera companies including Yo-Yo Ma, who performed Bach’s Third Cello Suite in the1997 Emmy Award-winning film, “Falling Down Stairs.” Ma also contributed his talents in the 2002 Kolam, alongside Indian composer Zakir Hussein and jazz-pianist Ethan Iverson.

The Mark Morris Dance Group is renowned for its challenging choreography and the rigorous structure of its dances. Morris’s approach recalls classical forms of dance, such as ballet, and reapplies them in a modern setting.

Morris and his group have received many accolades, including the Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography and Best Foreign Dance Company in 2002.

At tonight’s show, audience members can look forward to a three-part program featuring “Looky”, a combination which premiered in 2007 set to music composed by Kyle Gann; “All Fours,” which premiered in 2003, with music composed by Bela Bartok and “V” which premiered in 2001, featuring music by Robert Schumann.

The Mark Morris Dance Group will take the stage in the Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. For more information or for ticket prices and student discounts, visit the events calendar at www.umass.edu.

Andrew Cogan can be reached at acogan@student.umass.edu.

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