I took the family downtown for an afternoon at the Music Center. There we enjoyed three dance pieces by the Mark Morris Dance Group. There were three interpretations of Mozart piano concertoes and we most thoroughly enjoyed the second piece, Double.
The odd thing about dance is that, well for me, there's not much vocabulary I have to describe it. For me it's all about enjoying the poise and the positions. I will pick out a dancer among the troupe and observe their hair, build and movement then try to understand what the choreographer sees in him or her. Then I reinterpret what I see from that assumed perpsective.
MMDG is largely uniform, but there are four breakout dancers. The first, most obviously was the soloist in the first piece, Eleven. She is petite with a short curly blonde cut and falls into her moves transparently. There is absolutely no effect or cant with her, she simply moves. The second is the darkest man, who is bald and medium thick build. He played the 'prince' in Double. His motions are consistently bold and regal. The third is a man who is visibly more graceful than any of the dancers. His arms are simply perfect and something changes when he is on stage, even and especially in the minimalist settings. The final man is the tall one with the pony tail. Something about him I liked - I can't put my finger on it.
All of these acts, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion took place on a black stage with a Franz Klein-esque swishes on a large white backdrop which was alternately lit in deep green or organge depending on the mood. Mostly the brushstrokes were left on the white. The dancers were dressed in simple togs, rather like what I imagine Greek peasants would wear, close and simple off whites but not too clingy and mostly sleeveless. All were barefoot and oftimes their movements would be accentuated by the squeak of their feet on the matte floor.
There were very signature moves in this set, most notably plain walking, brisk running and the most graceful kind of falling down one might imagine. I tended to recall Morris as the gropey troupe, but they showed none of that orgiastic slithering in the Mozart performance. Rather it was a well balanced set of motions one would expect for allegro-speed concertos. Classic but not too leapy at all, and not too much with the strange feet. Rather a set of unique arm motions done smoothly reminiscent of angular trees, budding flowers and falling leaves.
In our favorite, Double, the dark man wearing a black outfit which reminded me of a minimalist samurai robe began solo. Then the thinner men wearing off white vests would shadow him on angles up and down stage. It was a sort of teaching game at the end of which he marched off stage left. It was the first bit of humor in the performance. Then six men in vests began a complex set of moves across the stage in a prayer circle, finally working a sort of sets of assistance to each other and a seventh man. The seventh man then returns to the prince and these two men engage in a friendly pas de deux. Finally women appear on the edges and the entire village echoes the moves the prince originally performed alone. It was a marvelous entertainment that I found fulfilling on many levels.
The occasion was that we got free tickets from the school and that allowed one of Boy's teachers to gush about his artistic talents. We took photos out front. I rather enjoyed the crowd which I found rather unusual for Los Angeles. LA dowagers deeply freckled and makeupless, or wearing large brass hammered ornaments and oversized tortoise shells. Men in light jackets without socks in deck shoes. A smattering of students, women in African dress, men in sweaters. Small girls with ballet frocks. It was a perfect afternoon, summery, different. And now there are three new Mozart pieces I can dig which were surprisingly unboring.