Edinburgh Festival: Dance: Mark Morris Dance Group Festival Theatre
Friday 16 August 1996
World Power is accompanied by a Lou Harrison composition played by the South Bank Gamelan Players. The ability to select surprising but utterly fitting pieces of music is one of Morris's greatest gifts, but the 1990 piece Behemoth uses no music at all. One of the powerful things about works danced in silence is that the audience, in endeavouring not to break the spell, tends to hold its breath. Unfortunately, at Wednesday's matinee this nervous hush was sometimes interrupted by an over-appreciative house. Morris's complex geometry directs the 15 dancers through a 35-minute scheme of ensemble and group dances. Individuals periodically escape the group to strike heroic poses. The percussive power of the human foot is exploited to the full in the final segment, which beats an urgent tattoo in which the feet are used like the hands of a conga player: stamping bass notes with the heel and slapping lighter beats with the tips of the toes.
The programme concludes with the new commission I don't want to love danced to Monteverdi madrigals performed by Concerto Italiano. The initially joyous parades evoke Botticelli's Primavera although Isaac Mizrahi's gorgeously grungey whites are more Haight Ashbury than High Renaissance costumes. The initially light and whimsical character of the dance is darkened by the sadder complexion of songs like Lamento della ninfa.
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