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Arts and Entertainment

Mark Morris Dance Group Spends a Week in the OC

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Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of the company

In 1989, then modern dance bad boy Mark Morris took a seventeenth century opera and turned it into a cause celebre in staging the work for his dance company, then in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels.

Almost twenty years later, and in a precedent-setting collaboration between the now-world renowned Mark Morris Dance Group. the Irvine Barclay Theatre, the Pacific Symphony and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, the Baroque work will be presented in Irvine for six performances from April 22-27. Differing from its premiere, however, this current production lands Morris not in the title role on stage, but as the conductor of Henry Purcell's masterwork, Dido and Aeneas.

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Considered by many to be a groundbreaking interpretation of a timeless story of love, politics and betrayal, these performances will include opera soloists Christopher Johnstone, Jamie Van Eyck, Yulia Van Doren, Leena Chopra and the UCI Chamber Singers. Morris, originally a dancer and choreographer, has been conducting operas in New York's Metropolitan and City Opera companies for the past year. His dance company tours internationally and has recently created a dance training school in their own building in Brooklyn. As a freelance choreographer, Morris has made work for ballet companies from San Francisco and Seattle to New York and Boston, New Zealand and all over Europe. The MacArthir Foundation Fellow also founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov, a repertory company that offers an eclectic range of original work created by contemporary artists often considered outside the mainstream. The Mark Morris Dance Group's residency here is the only one of its kind on the west coast and will also offer a photo exhibit at nearby Britta's Cafe and a short pre-show lecture on Purcell's music by Dean Corey on the 23rd.

See MM dance the title role in these YouTube videos: