Dancer From the Dance

Mark Morris makes his statement onstage

Tapping out the time with a folding fan, Morris sings as Guillermo Resto--who, although he has danced with this company for 16 years, is not the most senior dancer--does push-ups by a mirrored wall. The mass of Resto's upper torso suggests great authority; the thickening of his waist (he is a 44) suggests sensual appetites; his extravagant dreadlocks suggest a kind of crown for the Trojan Aeneas, whom he portrays.

When we couldn't get a film made of Dido in this country, we did it in Canada. And it was a scandal because it shows two men having sex. It never occurred to me that it would be offensive--two men are having sex--because in the dance I'm playing a woman. It's not drag as far as I'm concerned, it's just a man playing a female role, but people were horrified when Guillermo lies on top of me, which really surprised me at first. Then afterward I thought to myself, "Well, what did you think?"

As the rest of the company cross and recross the rehearsal space--bodies below the waist grounded, torsos inclined sideways, arms akimbo--Resto switches to sit-ups and Morris againtaps out the time, this time with a foot on the floor.

"Stop, stop!" Morris suddenly says to the dancers. "Lighter! I don't want it to get tighter and smaller. I want it to get freer and opener. People downstage are overtaking people upstage and that can't happen. Where were we? Which line? 'Banish sorrow'? Then that's what I want to see. Let's do 'Banish sorrow' right from the top."

"Can we try that last part again?" inquires the dancer Kraig Patterson.

"You can do it as much as you want," Morris replies, "as long as it gets better."

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