Dance Beyond the Norm

Mark Morris imperiously declared that modern dance is “bullshit,” in an interview with Elizabeth Schwyzer. His willingness to group most of modern dance under one umbrella is unfortunate.

Obviously, not all art is brilliant! The sweeping generalization that Morris makes about modern dance cannot be accepted unchallenged anymore than saying modern architecture, music, or art is “bullshit.” It’s ridiculous. His remarks are mean-spirited and unjustified.

Morris makes a big point of stating that his work is “rigorous,” and most other dance is “slop.” Rigorous, yes. But the work shown at the Granada on April 26 might have been so much more, if he’d employed more than his old-school choreography! The dances were, for the most part, predictable, occasionally charming, flawlessly performed, but lacking in soul and diversity.

Morris’s work did not expand my emotional or artistic horizon. It existed on one “rigorous” plane. It asked nothing from me as viewer. Morris’s reference to “low standards” in modern dance might reflect his lack of respect for the artistry of his contemporaries, and the low standards he holds for his audience’s abilities to go beyond the norm.

Being at his performance was like partaking of a meal from a long existing famous restaurant, where you are expected to be pleased to be able to have a seat at the table. The chef smugly believes that if the meal is well cooked and contains good ingredients that should be sufficient to satisfy. That way of thinking doesn’t guarantee a memorable meal.


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