Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

Theatricality elevates the dance for Mark Morris

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, the Mark Morris Dance Group treated audiences at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center to an impressive display of Modern Dance.

Morris’ reputation for delivering innovative yet technically challenging dance pieces went unchallenged last night, as Morris’ group presented three dances, “Looky” (2007), “All Fours” (2003), and “V” (2001), each of which had its own distinctive style and choreography.

Opening with “Looky,” the piece emphasized narrative and storytelling through the incorporation of theatrical elements alongside more choreographed dance movements. The 18 dancers involved each wore different costumes, accentuating the +-attributes of their characters. Utilizing folding chair props, simulated dialogue and comedy, the dance revealed itself in movie-like fashion, it’s myriad scenes and images requiring as much acting as they did dancing in order to bring the performance to life.

Following “Looky” was “All Fours.” Featuring 12 dancers, this piece departed from the more theatrical elements of “Looky,” using atmosphere and the juxtaposition of colors to set different moods and convey meaning to the audience.

The piece hinged upon two disparate groups of dancers. The first, dressed in black costumes and dancing against a red backdrop, functioned like a chorus in a Greek tragedy, building the mood and offering broad contextualization for the more intricate story elements at play. The heart of the story was contained within the second group – two male and female couples. Dressed in white costumes and dancing against a warm yellow background, their movements suggested conflict and internal struggle. 

The final dance was the longest of the three. Moderately paced and set to melodic strings and piano, the dancers of “V” displayed cool blue and green costumes accented by warm stage lighting to create a lighter, happier mood that was further enhanced by the flowing and lively choreography.

Each of the three dance performances retained fundamental characteristics of Morris’ style. They were each highly visual, strong in narrative and deeply rooted in the musical pieces that accompanied them.

Part of what makes Morris’ style so compelling is the foundational role of music in his work. His dances are as much an expression of the music as they are expressions in their own right, with dancers emoting deep breadth of feeling through the movements they project.

Last night, the music was exceptional for its complexity and virtuosity. The precision of the overall performance was a testament to the skill of both the dancers and musicians. Consisting of a string quartet with piano accompaniment, the musicians huddled in the orchestra pit, dim light casting dramatic shadows over their faces and instruments as they swayed back and forth with the music. The mood created by their energy and emotion greatly enhanced the overall effectiveness of the dance pieces.

The coupling of such vivid imagery with engaging narrative and high levels of musicality makes Morris’ dances a sight to behold. Arresting even to general audiences who may not be versed in the art of contemporary modern dance, Morris’ shows are highly recommended for anyone with the slightest curiosity for discovering all the artistry and innovation such a world has to offer.  

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

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