Founded in New York in 1980, the internationally-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has been called “the preeminent modern dance organization of our time” (Yo- Yo Ma). After spending three years residing in Brussels’ Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie as Belgium’s national dance company, MMDG returned to the United States in 1991. MMDG has received “highest praise for their technical aplomb, their musicality, and their sheer human authenticity” (Bloomberg News).
The Dance Group is distinguished as the only modern dance company with a commitment to live music at every performance, founding the MMDG Music Ensemble in 1996. In addition to the ensemble, MMDG regularly collaborates with eminent musicians across many genres.
Community engagement is also a vital component of the Dance Group. Through the organization’s Access/MMDG programming, MMDG integrates opportunities for dance, music, talks, and education at its Brooklyn home, the Mark Morris Dance Center, as well as on tour around the world.
The MMDG Music Ensemble, formed in 1996, is integral to the Dance Group. “With the dancers come the musicians…and what a difference it makes” (Classical Voice of North Carolina).
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 musicians also participate in Access/MMDG – the Dance Group’s educational and community programming at home and on tour.
Mark Morris has been hailed as the “most successful and influential choreographer alive and indisputably the most musical” (New York Times). Since founding MMDG in 1980, Morris has created close to 150 works for the company, many of which are widely considered masterpieces. Morris has established himself as someone who “easily ranks among the top five living American choreographers… and has already carved a major place for himself in the history of modern dance” (The Denver Post).
Renowned as an intensely musical choreographer, Morris is undeviating in his devotion to music. The only choreographer to be named artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival (2013), he has conducted performances for MMDG since 2006. Additionally, he has worked extensively in opera; directing and choreographing at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera as well as Covent Garden and many others. Morris is also an acclaimed ballet choreographer. His works have been commissioned and performed by San Francisco Ballet, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, to name a few.
He is a named Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, and has received eleven honorary doctorates to date. In recent years, he has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2007), the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society (2010), the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity (2012), the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts (2013), the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music Award (2014), and the Doris Duke Artists Award (2016).
Located in Brooklyn, New York, Morris continues to create new works from the Mark Morris Dance Center. Founded in 2001, the Dance Center provides a home for his company, rehearsal space for the dance community, outreach programs for local children and seniors, and a vibrant school offering dance classes to student of all ages and abilities.