Making a dance to some of Handel’s “water music” and simply naming it “water” is a joke you would expect from Mark Morris. The staging at Brooklyn Bridge Park against the backdrop of New York Harbor is also done by directing “water” to the water.
The title helps to set the tone: a little rude to its naive and plain speech. And, despite the shortcomings of the place (the concrete promenade of the stage where dancers were usually forced to protect their bare feet with sneakers, and the recorded music (a rare concession for the troupe)), the tone was particularly It’s part of what made the piece suitable for free outdoor shows.
For 45 minutes on Saturday, the neighbor Mark Morris Dance Group performed top-notch choreography on a wonderful day for people sitting on sloping grass, passing by with strollers and pets, or simply sunbathing. It can be described as a codpiece.
The “water” that concludes the program is short, about 10 minutes. The tape outlines a square on the floor, framing a couple whose entire company walks around it, alternating in the center with a lyrical flight. Often one dancer carries another dancer upside down. Various groups of dancers come and go, marking hornpipe music with sea movements, crumpling baroque elegance with hip bumps and air kisses, and other dancers passing in front or behind. It’s a fun, overflowing world that you want more.
Prior to this, Samuel Beckett’s play was performed. In 2019, Morris was invited to perform three Happy Days Beckett works: the Enniskillen International Beckett Festival in Northern Ireland. On Saturday, Morris’s company offered the US premiere of his staging of the wordless television show “Quad,” written by Beckett in 1981.
As the title of the word indicates, “quad” is also composed of squares. A person in a hooded robe pierces the perimeter and crosses the diagonal. When another hooded person joins, and when the third and fourth join, they need to dodge each other in the middle.
Its corner is a typical Beckett twist, similar to Morris. Performer addition and subsequent subtraction are permutation playbacks. As soon as you understand the pattern, you start wondering when it will end.
However, according to Beckett’s instructions, as in the original German work, the intersecting performers avoid a small square area in the center, an absurd hole. In Morris’ version, dancers do not avoid charged space. They avoid collisions. It is a social action, a citizen’s choreography.
And in the original work, like a maze rat, where the cowled person quickly broke through the ritual, Morris performers were beats provided by other members of the group hitting drums, pans, and propane tanks. walk. Without deviating from metronomic pacing, the swab puts a little skip between steps. This is a higher sounding lift. Morris turns Beckett’s dark slapstick into a kind of folk dance.
Most of what this company does has an aspect of folk dance. This includes the opener for this program. It is set in some of Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words” and, of course, is simply titled “Words”.
In Words, the music was live and played on the keyboard by the outstanding Colin Fowler. The use of space-a dancer momentarily appears at the edge of the dance area-clearly shows that the 2014 work was devised for the proscenium stage. Here, only the wings of the seagull were wings.
The stage is where these dancers belong and we hope they can get back in soon. But at Brooklyn Bridge Park, they weren’t out of place at all, as some of their armed gestures inadvertently reflected the Statue of Liberty pose behind them.
The program will be repeated on October 3rd at Queens Botanical Gardens.