Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Contemporary Masters" Honors the Late Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham and the Dynamic Mark Morris

The Washington Ballet in Duets (Photo: Dean Alexander)

From our friends at The Washington Ballet...

The Washington Ballet Celebrates Three of the Greatest Modern and Contemporary Choreographers of the Late 20th Century

From October 31 - November 4 at the Harman Center for the Arts, in the heart of the nation's capital, The Washington Ballet (TWB) will showcase its range of abilities and depth of versatility in an extraordinary program that pays tribute to the 20th century's most accomplished American modern choreographers. Contemporary Masters will include iconic works by three of the greatest influencers of modern American dance, Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham and Paul Taylor.

Mark Morris' Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes is a quirky, yet sophisticated and inventive ballet for 12 dancers set to an onstage piano score of 13 etudes by Virgil Thomson. The ballet, which was choreographed in 1988, is based on English poem written in 1616 that celebrates ethereal love. The New York Times states, "... the witty dance cements Mr. Morris's worth as a master choreographer in the classical form."

This year, the dance world celebrates the centennial of the late Merce Cunningham, whose expansive career propelled the evolution of American contemporary dance and visual arts. Cunningham choreographed Duets in 1980 to an abstract electronic musical score composed by John Cage. With eight separate tracks that are controlled and improvised by audio engineers, each performance is unlike the last as the dancers work to connect to each other's internal rhythms based on the mood and energy of the music, creating a new work of art every time it is performed.

Rounding out the program is the quick-paced and lively Company B by the late Paul Taylor. The Andrews Sisters, who rose to fame as a singing sensation during World War II, provide the backdrop for Taylor's playful choreography. There is a subtle wartime sadness that contrasts with the high spirit of the dancing that tells the story of the time in Company B.

Continuing with the theme of American masterworks, Artistic Director Julie Kent has chosen this program to further add texture to the company's repertoire. "Past seasons were about continuing to build the foundation of the company and showing the history of the art form," said Kent. "Now, the ballet of the nation's capital is not only taking on a variety of dance genres, but the absolute best in each genre."

Contemporary Masters runs from October 31 to November 4, 2018 at The Harman Center for The Arts. Tickets range from $25 to $125, and can be purchased at

The Washington Ballet (TWB) was founded as The Washington School of Ballet in 1944 and incorporated as a professional company in 1976. At the helm is internationally acclaimed ballerina Julie Kent. As The Washington Ballet's Artistic Director, Kent's mission is to bring world-class ballet to the nation's capital, continuing the tradition of classical ballet and contributing to the evolution of the art form through contemporary works and new commissions.

As the ballet company of the nation's capital, The Washington Ballet reflects the diversity of the community and the nation through its dancers and its repertoire. Kent has introduced into the repertoire seminal works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Frederick Ashton, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Justin Peck and Alexei Ratmansky while embracing the work of emerging choreographers including Clifton Brown, Gemma Bond, and Ethan Stiefel, among others. Her commitment to the development of both the dancer and the art form is fulfilled through presentation of beloved classic 19th-century ballets and landmark 20th-century works while reaffirming a commitment to commissioned works that will contribute to the evolution of ballet and its relevance in our times.

TWB's three-part mission is to ensure excellence in its professional performance company; grow the next generation of dancers through its school, professional training programs, and Studio Company; and serve the community in which it resides through community engagement programs.