Mark Morris Dance Group performed its uplifting "Gloria" on Friday night at The Egg in Albany.
In times of trouble, there is nothing more delightful than a richly musical cavort from the Mark Morris Dance Group.
It was a great pleasure to see this fine ensemble at The Egg on Friday night, performing as smartly as ever in a show that was rescheduled and rescheduled again and again because of the pandemic.
The fairly large crowd saw two jewels — “Words” from 2014 to music by Felix Mendelssohn played live, and the glorious “Gloria” from 1981 to Vivaldi in D, a work that offers hope of redemption for all of humanity's sins. Sandwiched between the two was “Jenn and Spencer,” a duet to music by Henry Cowell, also played live by a crackerjack duo, Georgy Valtchev on violin and Ryan MacEvoy McCullough on piano.
As with all Morris works, musicality soared with every note and nuance getting a nod of acknowledgement. But it is choreographic structures that Morris creates that won the evening. The 16 articulate dancers enthralled with their spot-on interpretations of Morris’ architectures that the eyes love to meander through.
“Words,” which opened the program, was a suite of dances that started out small with duets that were shielded and then revealed by a cloth held up by passing dancers. As the number of dancers grew in each little piece, the work told a story of independence, unity, joy and sorrow.
Morris drew from his background in folk dancing, thus reeling minds to the situation in Ukraine. And the piece of cloth emphasized that, we the viewer, can only see and thus understand a partial story. We are beings in the dark.
Our difficult relationships are depicted in the duet “Jenn and Spencer,” in which a couple tangles and is unable to reach a détente. The work is a back and forth between the two that is encapsulated in their stilted walk. Danced on Friday by Karlie Budge and Brandon Randolph, it’s a tense work that ends with the woman running off, the strain between the two is never resolved. Though true-to-life, “Jenn and Spencer” can be difficult to watch.
All is forgiven in the magnificent “Gloria.” It begins with a couple: one with a hobbled walk and another inching forward on his belly. As a recording of Vivaldi’s sacred chorale composition filled the theater, the ensemble of 10 dancers rose from crippled to healed, from sinners to saints in an uplifting and gorgeous display that Morris frames superbly.
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