Dance Forum Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 5

This piece was originally published and distributed to the Dance Forum, a special interest group consisting of Cal Performances constituents with a penchant for dance. 

“The Bay Area understands the genius of Mark Morris and his talents as a dancer, choreographer and musician, perhaps better than anywhere else in the world. We are fortunate to be able to bring Mark’s unique creative vision with two such remarkable works written hundreds of years apart to genius composers with radically different ideas.” — Matías Tarnopolsky

In this issue, we celebrate Mark Morris and his works on our Season. This year marks the centennial of the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, an event that has been hailed as the inauguration of modernism in music. Though Vaslav Nijinsky’s original choreography was lost following the opening night’s infamous riot, over 150 choreographers have since created their own stagings and interpretations of the work, including Maurice Béjart, Pina Bausch, and Martha Graham. On Wednesday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m., Mark Morris adds his name to this venerable list as his company and avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus take the Hertz Hall stage in an event The New York Times calls “the main attraction” of Ojai North! Morris’ work, entitled Spring, Spring, Spring employs a new arrangement of Stravinsky’s music provided by The Bad Plus. According to Morris, this version “promises to reinstate the rhythmic rigor that Stravinsky had in mind.”

Ojai North! is the Berkeley reprise of Ojai Music Festival, an event that features a new guest music director every year. Matías Tarnopolsky, Director of Cal Performances, recommended Mark Morris to be the director of the 67th Ojai Music Festival. After decades of collaboration, Cal Performances is intimately familiar with Morris’ daring choreography and unique sense of musicality. It seemed only fitting, then, that Morris be selected to direct a festival that is similarly interested in pushing musical boundaries. Though the programming at Ojai North! is largely the same as its Southern Californian antecedent, Cal Performances is lucky enough to claim this special premiere as its own.

Later on, when the 2013-2014 season is well underway, Cal Performances presents another all-new work from Morris: Acis and Galatea, a full-length opera and dance work set to Mozart’s arrangement of Händel’s score. The libretto, written in English by John Gay, is based on a love story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The story concerns the love triangle between Acis, an Arcadian shepherd; Galatea, a nymph; and the jealous cyclops Polyphemus. Though the original Händel version was allegedly Händel’s most performed piece during his lifetime, Morris decided to use the Mozart arrangement instead. “Mozart’s treatment of Händel is kind of jazzy,” comments Morris. “It swings in a way that Händel’s doesn’t, and to me, that’s irresistible.” As with Dido and Aeneas and The Hard Nut, this new production breathes fresh life into old work in a way that only Morris can achieve.

Copyright Cal Performances, U.C. Regents, 2013