By Jessi Smith
The tickets for the east coast premiere of Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG)’s newest work, A Wooden Tree, at the Ringling International Arts Festival are already selling fast — but breaking news may just push those ticket sales into a frenzy.
Today, RIAF artistic director, Mikhail Baryshnikov, announced his return to the Mertz Theatre stage for the second time in festival history, where he will join the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in the east coast debut of their newest work, A Wooden Tree. Baryshnikov last appeared on stage at the 2010 festival when he performed in a series of alternating solos with David Neumann.
Baryshnikov has been developing and performing a theatre-based piece, In Paris, which has been on tour internationally since 2010. He said that as he began to miss participating in more movement-based work, he sought the opportunity to collaborate with his old friend and colleague, Mark Morris.
“After working on theater projects for the past two years, I wanted to have a taste of dance,” Baryshnikov explained. “I missed being on stage in that way. It is a great comfort to work with Mark Morris, a dear friend and collaborator whose work I love, and who has an ensemble I adore. It is humbling to be invited to work amongst a group of such accomplished dancers.”
A Wooden Tree, which makes its debut in Morris’ hometown, Seattle, before coming to the stage at RIAF, is set to music and words by Scottish artist and humorist, Ivan Cutler (1923 – 2006). The costume design is by Elizabeth Kurtzman and the lighting design by Michael Chybowski.
The score includes Cutler works such as Cockadoodledon’t, Beautiful Cosmos, Rubber Toy, and I Got No Common Sense. In addition to Cutler’s works, MMDG will also perform a selection of classics such as Canonic ¼ Studies, Silhouettes, and Grand Duo during their 85 minute performance at RIAF.
“Misha is a fabulous dancer and a close friend,” Morris said of Baryshnikov. “Our collaboration goes way back. We haven’t worked on a dance together for quite a while so it is exciting and comfortable to work on this new piece – A Wooden Tree. He fits right in with my wonderful dancers.”
Tickets for A Wooden Tree are already selling rapidly and with the inclusion of Baryshnikov, this historic performance is anticipated to fill every seat — but there’s still time to get your ticket if you act quickly.
The Mark Morris Dance Group’s performances at the Ringling International Arts Festival are Wed., Oct. 10, 7pm (RIAF Inspires Opening Night, $500 per person includes reception, performance and formal dinner in the Museum of Art Galleries), as well as Thurs., Oct. 11, 5pm; Fri., Oct. 12, 8pm.; and Sat., Oct. 13, 2pm. Tickets for the Dance Group’s performances Oct. 11, 12 and 13 are $30, $40, and $50. To purchase tickets, contact the Historic Asolo Theater Box Office at 941.360.7399 or visit www.ringlingartsfestival.org