Layla and Majnun - Mark Morris Dance Group & Silk Road Ensemble | Chicago

Layla and Majnun - Mark Morris Dance Group & Silk Road Ensemble

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Layla and Majnun is the definitive story of being “possessed” by love, centuries before Romeo and Juliet; this work is the grandest retelling of the timeless classic to date.

Founded in New York City in 1980 by artistic director and choreographer Mark Morris, the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has been called “the preeminent modern dance organization of our time” (Yo-Yo Ma), its members receiving “highest praise for their technical aplomb, their musicality, and their sheer human authenticity.” (Bloomberg News) Live music and community engagement are vital components of the Dance Group, which has toured with its own musicians, the MMDG Music Ensemble, since 1996.

This evening-length work will be just over an hour in length long and feature singers Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova and musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble on traditional Asian instruments (kamancheh, tar, shakuhachi, and pipa) combined with Western strings (two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass) and a percussionist on stage with 16 dancers of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

Howard Hodgkin, the esteemed English painter and expert collector of antique Mughal miniature paintings, designed the decor based on a South Indian katcheri (classical music concert) with all the musicians and dancers sharing the stage space on platforms and in front of a backdrop. Morris describes it as “a visually, musically, and choreographically unified and self-contained concert piece. An enlightening tragedy.”

This production will not only introduce a beloved cornerstone of Middle Eastern folklore to a wide audience in the U.S. and abroad, but has the potential to engage new audiences drawn by the subject matter. The home territory of Layla and Majnun is located along the ancient Silk Route from India, Central Asia, and the Middle East to the eastern edge of Europe. This area, of current geopolitical focus and concern, is also the natal home of many immigrant communities in the US—South Asians, Iranians, Arabs, and Azerbaijanis, among others—that are not typically represented among modern arts audiences.

Though the story of Layla and Majnun has been reinterpreted in countless poems, paintings, plays, songs, musical compositions, television dramas, and films, an adaptation of this scale has never been presented in the West.

Layla and Majnun is a Mark Morris Dance Group/Cal Performances, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California production in association with Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Chicago, Illinois; Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.; Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York, New York; Meany Center for the Performing Arts, Seattle, Washington; Melbourne Festival, Victoria, Australia; Sadler’s Wells, London, England; and University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The Mark Morris Dance Group engagement at the Harris Theater was made possible by the generous support of Abby McCormick O’Neil and D. Carroll Joynes, Engagement Presenting Sponsor, and Ravinia Festival, Engagement Presenting Partner.

Additionally, the presentation of Mark Morris Dance Group was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Saturday, March 17th 2018 02:00pm


Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E Randolph St
60601 Chicago

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