The Mark Morris Dance Group & Music Ensemble performed a gleefully uplifting and mood enhancing program at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica that provided a welcome diversion from the distress of the times. New York based Morris, recognized as one of the most musically attuned contemporary choreographers, created the work in 2006 as a commission to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. “Mozart Dances” translates into movement three piano and chamber pieces that were performed live, in what could be appreciated as a concert in itself, under the musical direction of Colin Fowler.

The Mark Morris Dance Group photos are by Skye Schmidt; courtesy of the Broad Stage

The program began with “Eleven” performed to “Piano Concerto No.11 in F major, K 413.” After a brief appearance of male dancers at the start, the women, in black outfits, then held the stage in emotionless and rigid form running, briskly walking with determination, following a leader, displaying angular arm and hand gestures and sections punctuated with sculptural poses.

After a pause, “Double” with an appearance by the women toward the end, featured the men who dance to the “Sonata in D major for two pianos.”  With similar angular movements they reflected the music’s transitions from lively to gracefully slow and then very fast segments. The choreography combined a variety of solos, duets, trios with the dances twirling, huddling, frolicking and moving adroitly through hands-held group daisy chains.

After an intermission, the final work “Twenty-Seven” danced to “Piano Concerto No. 27 in B-flat major, K.595,” with a new arrangement for piano and chamber ensemble by Colin Fowler, offered the evening’s most exhilarating and dynamic performance.  Dressed in white, the full company hopped and leapt, recapitulating previous themes with rhythmic physicality and energetic flow and fluidity. The dancers elegantly matched the mostly allegro fast pace and beat while displaying noticeable joyous smiles, Overall, what was also notable is how Morris’ masterful choreography enabled the dancers to become collectively unified given their different body types and shapes.

The subtle lighting design was by James F. Ingalls, costumes were designed by the late Martin Pakledinaz and the dominating scenic background design of abstract brush stoke images was by the late British painter Howard Hodgkin.

Mark Morris Dance Group: Mica Bernas, Karlie Budge, Elisa Clark, Brandon Cournay, Domingo Estrada, Jr., Lesley Garrison, Sarah Haarmann, Brian Lawson, Courtney Lopes, Aaron Loux, Taína Lyons, Matthew Mclaughlin, Dallas Mcmurray, Maile Okamura, Brandon Randolph, Nicole Sabella, Christina Sahaida, Billy Smith, Noah Vinson, Malik Q. Williams;

MMDG Music Ensemble: Sara Cyrus, Colin Fowler, Kemp Jernigan, Andrew Janss, Gregory Luce, Ryan Macevoy Mccullough, Regi Papa, Kris Saebo, Georgy Valtchev;

For more information about the Mark Morris Dance group, go to

For upcoming performances at The Broad Stage, go to