An Evening of Mark Morris at Zellerbach Hall

October 3, 2010

After lunch with Candi on Friday, I decided to get a ticket to see Mark Morris kick off the 2010-2011 season for Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall.

It’s been a while since I just randomly picked up a ticket and went to see a performance.  I try to go to Ailey every year but other than that it takes a bit of thought to get me to buy a ticket.  I still miss my 50% off student discount.  The $5 staff discount doesn’t seem so great after 1/2 priced tickets.

But there’s something about seeing Mark Morris again.

I just had to get a ticket and go, besides the program was all pieces I had never seen.

First up was Behemoth… which was performed in silence.  My first thought was … how do all 15 dancers keep the same time… second thought – I HOPE they have the light scheme digitized because I would had to run a light board relying only on sight cues.  But it was amazing.  Not necessarily MY cup of tea but as a piece of art it was amazing and so very impressive.  I liked watching the leitmotifs play about among the dancers.

Taking sound out of the equation put everything else into such sharp relief.  I was amazed by the absolute control all the dancers had.  And was shown yet again how strong the Mark Morris Dance Group acts as a corps.  Soviet level perfection as a group but with a diverse physical aspect that ballets tend to run from screaming.

Unfortunately there were a few things that interrupted my attention to the dance.  First – I think there is something about a silent dance that makes people cough and sneeze and generally make noise whether they want to or not.  Makes sense, too bad the acoustics in Zellerbach are so good.  Second – and this is the one that really pisses me off – each company gets to make a decision about how to deal with people who are late to the performance.  Mark Morris decided that anyone who was late could go up to the balcony and get seated for the first part of the performance and then find their seat at the pause.

Well during Behemoth about 6 or so sets of people were seated at the edge of the balcony.  Which wasn’t so bad except that the usher swept an LED flashlight around so they could find their seats.  I was in the center of the balcony and every time this lady sat someone I got hit with her light.  Again and again and again.  She pulled me out of the performance over and over again.  And nothing can ever give me the experience of watching Behemoth for the first time again.  I found out about how everyone was to be seated in the balcony at the pause, and that the woman was a new usher and didn’t know how to shield her light.  I will most likely complain to the management but I don’t know what the point is except to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  I can’t get back what I lost.  At least I wasn’t the only one to complain on the spot.

The second piece, after the pause, was Looky and I must say this was my FAVORITE!  The people next to me were looking at the program and noticed that no musicians were listed for the piece but it wasn’t going to be silent like Behemoth… I was confused.  Mark Morris does not do canned music.  So what the heck was going on.  Then the curtain and lights came up… and the piano began to play… by itself.  A player piano… now that’s clever.  Also there were a lot of costume designers listed.  I figured out why when I noticed a few costumes that were from The Hard Nut…  they were using costumes from prior pieces.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Very nice.  It was novel, and witty and just wonderfully light and brilliant.  I loved it.

Finally, after and intermission, there was Socrates.  It was so very classical and beautiful and soulful and sad.  It was exactly what I have come to expect from Mark Morris when he is being classical.  Shades of L’Allegro.  The piano was lovely and liked the voice of the tenor but even with the vocals being in a language I don’t speak I could have done without the superscripts.  They were nice from time to time but really they pulled me away from the dancers too much for my tastes.  So after a while I just forgot about them and focused on the dance.

I’m so glad I went.



One Response to “An Evening of Mark Morris at Zellerbach Hall”

  1. Clara Says:

    With the exception of the flashlight in eyeballs moments, it sounds absolutely magical!

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