Polka by Mark Morris. The dance uses a piece for violin and piano by contemporary composer Lou Harrison. Morris was taken by its final movement, called, strangely enough, “polka.”
I always start with a piece of music. I’m not doing, like, a musicological analysis and writing a paper or anything, but I’m figuring out in my mind what makes that particular piece work. So my intention is to say through dancing exactly what I think is being said through music.
Because I heard that “polka,” I said I must choreograph this right now. And to me, it sounds very, very ancient. And so I wanted to make up a dance that was evocative and a little mysterious and seemed like maybe people had been doing it for hundreds or thousands of years. That was my assignment.
Imagine this song by Ivor Cutler as the musical accompaniment for a group of New York’s finest morris-dancers choreographed by the greatest living creative artist in any art form. Put it together with thirteen more of his songs (including the ever popular Beautiful Cosmos), with dancers dressed as children (Ivor Cutler always seemed a child dressed as an adult) in madcap square dances, shape-shifting and pattern-weaving around the playground, and you’ve got one of the four spectacularly life-enhancing performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group last night at Sadlers Wells. All that was needed for a perfect St Andrew’s day was a curtain call with Mr Morris dressed in a kilt.