Mark Morris, Photo by Beatriz Schiller Mark Morris in O Rangasayee (1984). Elizabeth Zimmer writes, "Morris's brilliant accomplishment was to take the naturalistic, weighty style of choreographers like Doris Humphrey and the flashy, ethnic-inflected strategies of Ruth St. Denis, and leaven them with the un-corseted body image of Isadora Duncan." (Photograph courtesy of Beatriz Schiller © 2000)

One of the foremost dance artists to emerge in the 1980s, Mark Morris
(1956- ) was born in Seattle. He studied flamenco, ballet, and folk dance; he made his debut as a choreographer when he was fourteen, and performed with various folk dance groups. In 1976 he moved to New York where he danced with the troupes of Eliot Feld, Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, and Laura Dean. In 1980 he gave his first concert, and the Mark Morris Dance Group was born. His talent was quickly recognized. Richly musical, his dances are full of wit, ribald humor, and parody; they also reveal the humanism of older modern dance. In 1988 Morris became dance director of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, where he created his first grand-scaled masterpiece, L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, His brilliantly original version of Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas, in which he played the heroine, followed in 1989. Two years later he returned to the United States. Morris has choreographed for many ballet companies and enjoys a close relationship with Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, which has performed several of his works. He has also moved increasingly into the classical music arena, fostering an ongoing relationship with the Tanglewood Music Center, directing and choreographing works for the Metropolitan Opera and other companies, and sometimes conducting the orchestras accompanying his company's performances.

Learn more in Mark Morris, an essay by Elizabeth Zimmer.

The Hard Nut ("French" variation, 1992) was Mark Morris's irreverent, contemporary take on The Nutcracker. Joan Acocella called the piece the most autobiographical
Morris has made.