Mark Morris deals pure pleasure out of his headquarters, the Mark Morris Dance Center. He invents little dance plays in which bodies speak the languages of love and confusion, joy and camaraderie.
And this season his matchless ensemble includes, in one wildly entertaining number, ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov playing a crusty flirt who still has the power to charm partners and viewers. To recordings of amusing songs by the late Ivor Cutler, five women and three men cavort through “A Wooden Tree,” acting out Cutler’s wry lyrics.
The rest of the evening features live chamber music by Dvorak (for 1994’s mysterious waiting-room drama, “The Office”), Henry Cowell (for the brand new “Jenn and Spencer”) and Carl Maria von Weber (“Crosswalk”), played by the company’s resident ensemble.
“Jenn and Spencer” is a grand duet for Jenn Waddell and Spencer Ramirez, she in a floor-length, backless gown, he in a tuxedo shirt with sleeves rolled up. Circling each other, spiraling in and out, they use each other’s body parts to cantilever and counterbalance. There are no romantic clichés here, just sheer physical energy and powerful attention between equals.
The new “Crosswalk” is more of a romp. Morris’ genius is to let dance make us listen to the music, while the music drives the dance. He consolidates the best trends of the century and lets us see them up close.