Mark Morris, whose roots are in folk dance, nurtures sprouts from those roots into some of the most pleasurable dances on the American scene; three new ones appear this week in his Brooklyn studio, to live classical music provided by his in-house ensemble.
Nominally a modern dance company, Morris’ troupe is ballet-trained. Though they dance barefoot, the performers — sturdy women and fluent, pliant men — offer us precise steps and powerful feelings to serious music, beginning with a startling suite of Irish and Scottish folk songs arranged by Beethoven.
“Petrichor,” Morris’ first composition for an all-female cast, sets eight women in motion to a Heitor Villa-Lobos string quartet. Wearing floaty baby-doll tops over gray trunks, they execute powerful, swivel-hipped crosses, reminiscent of fencers or even tango dancers.
“Festival Dance” features gals in circle skirts and guys in Henleys; their outfits might have come from the Eddie Bauer catalog, but their actions draw on all the resources of American dance, from reels to jitterbug, displaying a kaleidoscope of satisfying patterns.
To music by Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel (a student of Mozart’s), a dozen dancers turn the notion of a “hop” into a tour through two centuries of dance strategies. Lines form in the wings and barrel across the stage; moving in circles, men lift women and women steer men.