Mark Morris Dance Group Stages “Festival Within A Festival” At Jacob’s Pillow

“Post-Show Talk Mark Morris Dance │ Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival 2014”

The talk above took place after the show announced below:

[Becket, MA] – Choreographer Mark Morris is celebrated for his deep, witty, poetic, brazen, joyful dances and an abiding commitment to live music. This July, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival celebrates Mr. Morris and his dance group with a weeklong “festival within the Festival”, featuring talks, a concert by the MMDG Music Ensemble, music seminars with Mark Morris, and his repertory taught in The School at Jacob’s Pillow, and an exclusive seven-show engagement. Each performance in the Ted Shawn Theatre includes Festival Dance, which prompted Robert Gottlieb of The New York Observer to proclaim, “it’s charming, it’s exhilarating, it’s unexpected”; A Wooden Tree, set (in a rare departure from Morris’s tradition of live music) to recordings by Ivor Cutler; Crosswalk, one of Morris’s newest works; and the lyrical duet Jenn and Spencer. The Mark Morris Dance Group appears in the Ted Shawn Theatre, July 23-27.

“It will be a fascinating week,” states Ella Baff, Executive and Artistic Director of Jacob’s Pillow. “Audiences, students of The School at Jacob’s Pillow and our scholars and fellows will have an up close and first-hand experience, learning about Mark’s deep knowledge and love of dance and music with him, his company members, and the Mark Morris Dance Group Music Ensemble. Mark is one of the most insightful and creative artists of today.”

Festival Dance is an earthy work for twelve dancers set to “Piano Trio No.5 in E Major, Op.83” by Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Adam Castaneda of the Houston Press praises Festival Dance for its vibrant energy: “The bodies that populate this rich and warm-spirited festival are most definitely alive. Every arabesque, every attitude turn, every long-limbed shape feels full-bodied and buoyed by breath…The choreography is full of sweeping entrances and exits so that the energy is always fresh and invigorating.”

The dancers in A Wooden Tree are described by Alastair Macaulay as “a minority who share a world, a movement language full of speaking gestures, acting detail and folklike patterns” (The New York Times). An unusual exception to Morris’s dedication to live music, A Wooden Tree is performed to recorded music and spoken word by Ivor Cutler. Cutler was a Scottish songwriter, poet, and humorist best known for his appearances on BBC radio. Theatrical, comical, and poignant, A Wooden Tree features bright, eclectic costumes for its eight dancers.

Crosswalk is an active ensemble work set to Carl Maria von Weber’s “Grand Duo Concertant, for clarinet and piano, Op.48.” The dancers, clad in 1950’s-style costumes, showcase technical proficiency and articulate musicality in energetic movement. In contrast, Jenn and Spencer, one of Morris’s rare male/female duets, highlights quiet intimacy with thoughtful partnering and romantic costume and lighting design.

During the Mark Morris Dance Group’s week in the Ted Shawn Theatre, members of the company will be in residence in the Contemporary Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, teaching Morris repertory. Also for students of the Contemporary Program, Mark Morris will lecture on music.


On Sunday, July 27, at 11am, the MMDG Music Ensemble will give a special live music performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time).” “Quatuor” is a rapturous 55-minute piece of music, scored for piano, violin, cello and clarinet. Tickets for this concert, which takes place in the Ted Shawn Theatre, are $15 and seating is general admission.

Free PillowTalk: Mark Morris on Music
Friday, July 25, 5pm
Blake’s Barn

Critics often single out Mark Morris for his musicality, and this conversation with the choreographer himself delves into his musical influences and his working relationships with both dancers and musicians. FREE


Called “one of the greatest living choreographers” by The New Yorker, Mark Morris founded Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980 and has created over 130 works for his company, as well as companies including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Grand Théâtre de Genève, and New Zealand Ballet, among others. He has choreographed and directed for operas throughout the U.S. and Europe, and was a co-founder (with Mikhail Baryshnikov) of the White Oak Dance Project. “Heart and brain keep meeting in the work of the choreographer Mark Morris, but each time with new results,” proclaims Alastair Macaulay in The New York Times. “Sometimes they marry in an irresistible outpouring whose meanings and structure reward further viewings. Sometimes they fuse in extraordinary dramatic poems buoyed by an underlying dance current. In either case we recognize him as one of the dazzling artists of our day.”

Mark Morris has received 11 honorary doctorates from institutions across the U.S. including The Juilliard School and Boston Conservatory of Music, and was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991. He is renowned for his use with live music and his support of musicians. He won an Emmy Award for his collaboration with musician Yo-Yo Ma in the film Falling Down Stairs, parts of which were shot at Jacob’s Pillow. Before forming his own dance company, Morris danced with Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, and Eliot Feld. In July 2007, Morris was honored with the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, Morris directed Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice at the Metropolitan Opera, becoming one of three great choreographers to direct this particular work (the others being George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton.)


Since its establishment, Mark Morris Dance Group has toured regularly throughout the U.S. and Europe. Based in Brooklyn, New York, the company often performs in London, which has garnered them two Laurence Oliver Awards. MMDG collaborates with leading orchestras, opera companies, and musicians. Film and television projects include Dido and Aeneas, The Hard Nut, two documentaries for the U.K.’s The South Bank Show, and PBS’ Live From Lincoln Center. In 1996 the MMDG Music Ensemble was founded and since has become integral to the company’s creative life. This core group presents concerts at the Mark Morris Dance Center and other venues, and participates in the Mark Morris Dance, Music, and Literacy Project in the New York City public school system.


Mark Morris first performed at the Pillow in 1982. Subsequently he was commissioned to create works for the Jacob’s Pillow Dancers in 1983 and 1984. His company first appeared here in 1986 and has since returned for twenty seasons (most recently in 2011), amassing one of the most extensive Pillow performance records of any artist. Morris created Falling Down Stairs in the Pillow’s Doris Duke Theatre for a film by Barbara Willis Sweete, conceived as a component of Yo-Yo Ma’s PBS series, Inspired by Bach.

Performance and ticket information

Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, July 23—Saturday, July 26, 8pm
Thursday, July 24, Saturday, July 26 & Sunday, July 27, 2pm

Free Pre-Show Talks with Jacob’s Pillow Scholar-in-Residence, Maura Keefe, are offered in Blake’s Barn 30 minutes before each performance
Free Post-Show Talk with Mark Morris will take place immediately following the performance on Friday, July 25 in the Ted Shawn Theatre.
Tickets $45-75. Now on sale online at, via phone at 413.243.0745, or in person at the Jacob’s Pillow Box Office.
Box Office hours: Sun, Mon, Tues, 11am-5pm; Wednesday- Saturday, 11am-8pm

Pillow Members receive exclusive benefits. To become a Member, call 413.243.9919×125.

Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theaters are handicapped accessible.


Free PillowTalk: Mark Morris on Music
Friday, July 25, 5pm
Blake’s Barn

Critics often single out Mark Morris for his musicality, and this conversation with the choreographer himself delves into his musical influences and his working relationships with both dancers and musicians. The Mark Morris Dance Group and Music Ensemble perform this week in the Ted Shawn Theatre. FREE

Free Inside/Out Performance: Contemporary Program, The School at Jacob’s Pillow
Saturday, July 26, 6:15
Marcia & Seymour Simon Performance Space

Dancers from the Contemporary Program of The School at Jacob’s Pillow present contemporary variations coached by program director Milton Myers. Members of the Mark Morris Dance Group serve on faculty this week and will teach company repertory, including excerpts from Grand Duo. 2014 Contemporary Program faculty include Stijn Celis, Mark Morris, and Marguerite Donlon. FREE


Mark Morris Music Ensemble Concert
Sunday, July 27, 11am
Ted Shawn Theatre

The MMDG Music Ensemble, formed in 1996, performs with the dance group at home and on tour and has become integral to the company’s creative life. The core ensemble, supplemented by musicians from a large roster of regular guests, has helped the dance company achieve an unprecedented streak of nearly 800 performances with live music. The ensemble’s repertory ranges from 17th-century works by John Wilson and Henry Purcell to more recent scores by Lou Harrison and Henry Cowell. Tickets $15, general admission, available at or via phone 413.243.0745.

[Photo of Laurel Lynch & Willam Smith lll of Mark Morris Dance Group by Stephanie Berger]


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