THE MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP was formed in 1980 and gave its first concert that year in New York City. The company’s touring schedule steadily expanded to include cities both in the U.S. and in Europe, and in 1986 it made its first national television program for the PBS series Dance in America.
In 1988, the Dance Group was invited to become the national dance company of Belgium, and spent three years in residence at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. The company returned to the United States in 1991 as one of the world’s leading dance companies, performing across the U.S. and at major international festivals. It has maintained and strengthened its ties to several cities around the world, most notably Berkeley, CA, where Cal Performances presents the company in two annual seasons, including engagements of The Hard Nut each December.
It is the official dance company (2000-2005) of the Virginia Arts Festival, and appears regularly in Boston, MA; Fairfax, VA; Seattle, WA; Urbana-Champaign, IL; and at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, MA. The company’s London seasons have garnered two Laurence Olivier Awards.
MMDG is noted for its commitment to live music, a feature of every performance on its full international touring schedule since 1996. Cellist Yo Yo Ma has frequently collaborated with the Dance Group; their projects include the 1997 Emmy Award-winning film Falling Down Stairs, using Bach’s Third Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, and the 2002 dance Kolam, created for The Silk Road Project in collaboration with Indian composer Zakir Hussain and jazz pianist Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus. MMDG’s film and television projects include Dido and Aeneas, The Hard Nut, and two documentaries for the U.K.’s South Bank Show.
In fall 2001, the Dance Group opened the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York, the company’s first permanent headquarters in the U.S, housing rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children, as well as a school offering dance classes to students of all ages.
THE MMDG MUSIC ENSEMBLE formed in 1996, performs with the Dance Group at home and on tour and has become integral to the company’s creative life. The core group, supplemented by musicians from a large roster of regular guests, has helped the Dance Group achieve an unprecedented streak of close to eight hundred performances with live music. The Ensemble’s repertory ranges from 17th-century works by John Wilson and Henry Purcell to more recent scores by Lou Harrison and Henry Cowell. The Ensemble also presents concerts at the Mark Morris Dance Center and other venues, and participates in the Mark Morris Dance, Music and Literacy Project in the New York City public school system.