Best COVID-19 short video: Mark Morris Dance Group’s ‘Lonely Tango’

Dance · Film

It’s unclear whether Morris and his gang (MMDG) assembled this Ode to Isolation prior to the pandemic or thereafter. I *think* I see a face mask in the grocery-shopping sequence. But it’s not that important: The dead-and-deader spirit suits the moment well. This is a COVID-era-disseminated short video — utterly witty in its minimalist approach to dance for the camera — that I have been willing to visit more than once.

“Lonely Tango” is one of four video dances bundled into a live online broadcast, Dance On! An Evening With the Mark Morris Dance Group.

“Tango” (which has a companion piece, “Lonely Waltz”) plods along to a solo rendering of Erik Satie’s piano suite “Sports et divertissements” played in the video by Colin Fowler. The black-and-white images do cling together in a kind of cinematic dance, however disparate they are and at a snail’s pace. Highlights include a soak in the bathtub, a dragging toy Stegosaurus, and a stare into an open refridgerator door, all ‘evergreen’ COVID activities. It’s dreary and desolate, but in its own deadpan way, dynamic. It displays a choreographer’s concern for form and rhythm. Time and space, baby! What dance is all about.

Morris has a new place in my heart for his just-fabulous “Pepperland,” pictured below, probably the most impressive live dance performance I saw before the world came to a standstill. The artsmeme Pandemic Award, however, goes to “Lonely Tango.”

Mark Morris Dance Group in more vibrant days for dance: ‘Pepperland’

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