You Can Dance If We Want To

November 13, 2022 0 Comments

You Can Dance If We Want To – Mark Morris dancers rehearse “The Look of Love” in their Brooklyn studios. Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

For a moment, I didn’t know what I was listening to. It was the last day of September and I was attending the rehearsal of “Look of Love”, Mark Morris’ new ballroom dance to songs by Bert Bacharach. But the singing to which the dancers moved in subtle patterns sounded like modernist opera, not the lousy 1960s pop music Bacharach was famous for. Then I had a song: “Attention au point”.

You Can Dance If We Want To

You Can Dance If We Want To

After all, it was Bacharach: the song he wrote for the 1958 sci-fi movie “The Blob.” a little prayer” and, of course, “The search for love”. Those are the tunes, and there’s more to Morris’ Dance, whose company debuted Thursday at Broadstage in Santa Monica, Calif., before moving to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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However, the strange version of “The Blob” was there to remind me that Maurice’s position on Bacharach would not be quite the same as the old records. The music is performed live, sung mostly by Broadway veteran Marcy Harrell, and the arrangement, by jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, takes some liberties.

In that sense, the show is similar to Morris’ last song, “Pepperland,” a gritty version of The Beatles’ “The Censor.” Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club used by Morris for “Sgt. Pepper Festival in Liverpool in 2017. Music for this production was also performed live, with Iverson arrangements of sometimes unrecognizable songs.

Then you can assume that the “look of love” is a kind of continuation of “Paperland” – a period of time, a similar approach. But in an interview after the rehearsal, Morris said the idea for Bacharach’s show originated many years ago, when Iverson was working as Morris’ musical director and the two discovered a mutual love for music. by Bacharach.

“It’s great American music that people know, never heard of, or never knew who wrote it,” Morris said. “People always say: Oh my God, he wrote it

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Speaking on the phone while traveling in Germany, Iverson agreed. “I was putting Bacharach out there with Gershwin and Cole Porter and Irving Berlin as part of the American Songbook,” he said. “These are songs you hear once and never forget.”

“But Bacharach is underrated in terms of complexity,” Iverson continued. “Some people think it’s easy to listen to, but the details are very subtle and subtle.” For example: The first scale of the movie “Anyone With a Heart”, Bacharach’s first song with singer Hal David, was in the unusual 5/4 scale. This song is also in “Love Look”.

Iverson said that compared to his work at Pepperland, his approach to Bacharach’s music is “more respectful”. Inspired by Frank Sinatra’s Nelson Riddle arrangements, he creates preludes and interludes that are more or less there, “because Mark needs them”. But mostly he said, “I really want to honor Bacharach as a composer.” (“The Blob” is an exception: “I had a really hard time.”)

You Can Dance If We Want To

Left to right, Nicole Sabella, Brandon Randolph and Tina Lyons, rehearsing “The Look of Love”. Credit…Jenna Moon for The New York Times

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Bacharach, 94, had a disability. Morris recounted several Zoom sessions with the composer — “he was big and fun, we basically saw his face all the time” — during which they discussed song and instrument choices. Bacharach wanted the band to include a trumpet player, an important part of Bacharach’s voice, and he did. For Morris, the most important part of the conversation came when Basharach said, “You don’t want to be boring.”

“I thank God!” said Morris. “We were afraid to ask to change things. He gave us carte blanche.” In an email, Bacharach said what he saw of Morris’ work online made him excited about the show and that he felt his music was “in good hands”.

In many ways, “The Look of Love” not only resembles “Pepperland,” but a lot of Morris voices, whether it’s Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys or a baroque opera. As Iverson said, “Mark is very good at songs that tell a story.”

At the start of “Say a Little Prayer”, when the song is about getting up, combing your hair, and jumping on the bus, the dancers perform these acts. When the word “grief” appeared, their fists tightened their shirts at their hearts. This type of imitation is a classic Morris organ, despised by some fans and adored by others. Thus, by the time the musical instruments break down, these movements have become forms of dance, skilfully arranged to give an atmosphere to the music.

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The production of Isaac Mizrahi’s clothes is simple in design. There are pillows and pillows and pillow top chairs – perhaps a reference to the “A house is not a house” chair, even though it is not on display. During the title track, the central couple do what the singer says she wants to do – put her hands on her lover – but have to do it while crossing the barriers of the bench. It’s the choreography that says, in the words of the song, “more than words can say.”

More than words can say: From left to right, Domingo Estrada Jr., Christina Sahaida, Noah Vinson, Courtney Lopez, Billy Smith and Carly Badge. Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

“They’re all tragic songs, and they’re all upbeat and upbeat,” Morris said. “It’s exciting, rhythmically and harmoniously.” The message, he added, is: You treated me badly as usual, “Goodbye, but I love you, question mark.”

You Can Dance If We Want To

“I was disappointed,” Morris said, but now he’s not talking about Bacharach songs but about the process of creating a dance during the pandemic. In the year he worked on “The Look of Love,” he said he “did maybe three or four rehearsals with a total of 10 people playing the role.” Dancers missed rehearsals because they had Covid, and needed to teach replacement dancers and then original dancers, daily Covid tests: “It was very difficult,” he said, referencing the rescheduled “Pepperland” and other major shows. It operates under the same uncertain conditions.

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“I got my new dancers dancing to tunes they had never seen before,” Morris said. “They did a very good job. But this is an opportunity.”

I was tempted to make a joke about Blob or “Now Give The World It Need”, another song from the show. But I didn’t, and Morris started hoping for a dance he hadn’t finished yet.

“I’m partly convinced it would be great,” he said. “The music will be amazing. It won’t be boring.”

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