MARK MORRIS was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he performed with the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble, and later the dance companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, and Eliot Feld. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has since created more than 130 works for the company. From 1988-1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. Among the works created during his time there were three evening-length dances: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; Dido and Aeneas; and The Hard Nut. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Morris is also a ballet choreographer and has created eight works for the San Francisco Ballet since 1994 and received commissions from many others. His work is also in the repertory of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, and The Royal Ballet. Morris, named music director of the 2013 Ojai Music Festival, is noted for his musicality and has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music.” He has conducted performances for the Mark Morris Dance Group since 2006. He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, English National Opera, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation. He has received eleven honorary doctorates to date. In 2006, Morris received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award “for being an American ambassador for classical music at home and abroad.” He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: A Celebration. Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. 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), and the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity (2012).
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