Mozart Dances

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- The many sides of sensual feelings (and non-feelings) were explored recently by the Mark Morris Dance Group in MOZART DANCES, a sometimes puzzling but always provocative recital at the Music Center. Morris's inspiration for the dances were Mozart's Piano Concerto #11 in F Major, the Sonata for Two Pianos in D and Piano Concerto #27. All three pieces were danced in abstract fashion--in front of an equally abstract (but arresting) backdrop by Howard Hodgkin (design) and James F. Ingalls (lighting)--with extremely subtle storylines, muted costumes (black, grey and white) and barefooted dancers.

ELEVEN focused on Lauren Grant as a sprite fighting to maintain her joy of life in the face of the regimented disapproval of her peers--especially the women, whose movements were mechanical and repressed. In DOUBLE and TWENTY-SEVEN Morris allowed his dancers more freedom and lyricism as they explored not only Mozart's musicality but their own yearnings for intimacy and connection, most of which went unfilled until the climactic moments of the evening.

Mystery was a key ingredient, but with Mozart's lovely melodies filling the hall--Jane Glover conducted the Dance at the Music Center Orchestra; Garrick Ohlsson and Yoko Nozaki were the solo pianists--the recital came off as satisfying and magical.

Next up in the "Dance at the Music Center Series" is American Ballet Theatre (March 27-30, 2008).

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave. Call Ticketmaster or (213) 972-0711 or visit