A Garden

Music: Richard Strauss (Tanzsuite aus Klavierstücken von François Couperin, AV107, 1923)
Choreography: Mark Morris
Staging: Joanna Berman
Costume Design: Mark Morris
Lighting Design: Michael Chybowski
Duration: 24 minutes
Premiere: February 23, 2001; San Francisco Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: November 6, 2008

The 2008 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Mark Morris' A Garden was generously underwritten in part by Elizabeth Borchelt and William J. & Sandra B. Dunn.

PNB Company dancers in A Garden.
Photo © Angela Sterling

In A Garden, famed American dancemaker Mark Morris creates a sunny, courtly atmosphere for twelve dancers. Just as Richard Strauss reinterpreted the French baroque dances of François Couperin for modern-day orchestra in the score Morris has chosen for A Garden, so Morris suggests baroque dance itself, with its fast, filigree footwork—or "petit allegro"—and low-held arms, interpreted by today's classically trained dancers with the technique, wit, and musicality that Morris brings to all his work.

Reviewing a 2001 performance by San Francisco Ballet, for whom A Garden was choreographed, Debra Craine of London's Times wrote, "A Garden uses the language of classical ballet but cuts it loose from its tight precepts every time it threatens to become formulaic…It's also fun to watch the dancers' sophisticated classical training erupt naturally through choreography which expresses itself in such (deceptively) simple pleasures. Like all Morris' best dances, A Garden builds a sense of companionship on stage and Morris' dialogue with his music is immediate and sympathetic."

A Garden is the second work by Mark Morris to enter Pacific Northwest Ballet's repertory, following Pacific (acquired 2007).

Recommended Listening:
Strauss: Le bourgeois gentilhomme; Tanzsuite, Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Erich Leinsdorf, Asv Living Era

Recommended Reading:
Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Wesleyan, 2004)


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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