By Jessi Smith
This art nerd has a confession to make.
Sit me in a college lecture hall and I feel at home as visual theories about art roll from my tongue to the rhythm of slides clicking around the carousel of a humming projector. Stand me before a painting or sculpture in an art museum and I am at ease jotting erudite notes about form, color and symbolism that help me draw my conclusions about the artist’s intent.
Sit me in the audience of a dance performance, however, and all traces of academia are stripped from my vocabulary. I am left with simple verbiage that comes in the form of “Whoa” and “Wow” as I betray the hardly-elementary extent of my formal education in the art of dance.
Although I am poorly versed in the language attributed to the art of kinetic movement, I savor every opportunity to immerse myself in its midst, which is why I am eager to experience the world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) at the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF) , October 10–13.
Hailing from New York City, the MMDG holds a long list of international accolades for its innovative choreography, humor and the eclectically vibrant music scores that have established the company as a leader in the world of dance. The MMDG will open RIAF on October 10 and will continue to grace the stage daily for the duration of the festival in the historic Mertz Theatre.
Built in 1903 as an opera house in Dunfermline, Scotland, the Mertz Theatre is an ornately designed, elegant 500-seat facility. Art, in all of its forms, serves as a cultural bridge between the old and the new, and I expect the turn-of-the-century grandiosity of the Mertz Theatre to juxtapose brilliantly with the MMDG’s edgy, contemporary flair.
Thus far, my only familiarity with MMDG’s performances is derived from the videos yielded in a Youtube search. The dancers’ flawless synchronicity, fluid grace and powerful energy transcends the tinny quality of my laptop’s speakers and shines through the screen, despite the buffering glitches caused by my finicky home Wi-Fi connection.
I simply cannot wait to experience the MMDG the way it is intended to be experienced: Alive and vibrant, casting trails of lithely arcing shadows under the stage lights in a celebration of movement while live music thunders from the orchestra with each note coursing through the veins of the theatre like an electric current.
Tickets are moving fast for the MMDG’s four RIAF performances. To reserve your spot at the heart of the action, visit the online box office or call 941-360-7399.
…And if you happen to end up sitting next to a curly-headed blonde girl who won’t stop gasping “Wow, that was awesome,” feel free to give this RIAF neophyte a nudge. I promise I’ll try to keep my verbal exclamations of awe to a minimum.
The Mark Morris Dance Group recently performed at the 2012 American Dance Festival. Read the review.