Since the 1980s Morris's dances have attracted great interest for their craftsmanship, ingenuity, musicality, and iconoclastic choreography as well as for their sometimes eclectic accompanying live music; his solo performance of O Rangasayee, for example, was danced to an Indian raga. He won particular acclaim for The Hard Nut (1991), a campily ebullient version of The Nutcracker set in the 1960s. Generally less ironic and more serious in tone, his many other works include L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed Il Moderato (1988); Dido and Aeneas (1989); The Office (1995); Greek to Me (2000), a dance version of the Virgil Thomson–Gertrude Stein opera Four Saints in Three Acts (2001); a new version of the ballet Sylvia (2004); a joyous vaudevillesque take on Purcell's King Arthur (2006); a new ballet to Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (2008); Socrates (2010), a modern dance piece with sung and spoken text; a dance interpretation of Handel's Acis and Galatea (2014); and Layla and Majnun (2017), based on an Arabic tale. Morris has used Lou Harrison's music for eight dances since 1987; Lou 100: In Honor of the Divine Mr. Harrison (2017) combines five of them, including Numerator (2017), for six male dancers, and concludes with the dark and dramatic Grand Duo (1993). Morris retired as a dancer in 2006.
See his memoir, Out Loud (with W. Stace, 2019); biography by J. Acocella (1993, repr. 2004); J. Escoffier and M. Lore, ed., Mark Morris's L'Allegro, Il Pensoroso, ed Il Moderato (2001); T. Grimm, dir., Dance in America: Mark Morris with the Mark Morris Dance Group (video, 1986).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Dance: Biographies