Any business knows the value of diversifying its customer base. The arts yearn for that, with mixed success. Mark Morris has achieved it.
Morris is not content simply to tour the standard dance venues with his Mark Morris Dance Group, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this fall. He also takes his works beyond dance boundaries . . . into the music world.
His modern dance troupe is the only dance company that performs at the Tanglewood Music Festival, where Morris is a frequent guest artist. Why is a choreographer coaching the festival's music fellows alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Emanuel Ax?
"I'm a musician," Morris said by phone from his company's Brooklyn headquarters, "and my medium is dancing."
Now, there's a twist -- with an undeniable logic to it. Morris, whose works blend exquisite craftsmanship with reined-in passion, neither plays an instrument nor sings. Yet he reads music, has directed operas and has conducted for his own shows. More to the point, his works are marked by an astute musical sensitivity. Among Morris's greatest works is "L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato," named for the Handel oratorio that accompanies it; in April, his troupe will perform it at the London Coliseum under the auspices of an opera producing company there.