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The Office.

Zivili: Dances and Music of the Southern Slavic Nations celebrated its twentieth season with the premiere of a work unlike anything else in its repertoire: a new dance by Mark Morris.

Zivili is dedicated to preserving the folk music and dance of the ethnic regions in what was Yugoslavia. Melissa Pintar Obenauf, the company's general manager, and Pamela Lacko Kelley, the artistic director, came up with the anniversary idea of commissioning Morris, who began his career with the Seattle-based Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. [See Presstime News, April 1994, page 22.]

The Office brings Zivili smack into the late twentieth century. It severs the company from its colorful peasant garb and from its usual tamburitza accompaniments for the first time. Musicians from the Columbus Symphony Orchestra performed Dvorak's Five Bagatelles, op. 47.

The work opens with five dancers dressed in drab street clothes sitting in folding chairs, as though in a waiting room. All five dance to the first bagatelle. A little nervousness, perhaps, is suggested by quick looks over the shoulder and the occasionally frantic speed of the steps. At the conclusion of the first bagatelle, a woman with a clipboard comes onstage, a name appears to be called, and the woman and a performer leave the stage. After a brief hesitation, the music and the dancing begin again. The woman with the clipboard reenters after each section until only one dancer is left.

Morris has given Zivili a work filled with familiar language--lines, hopping steps, partnered twirls, circles. He even seems to refer to one of the company's better-known works, the high-flying duet Gypsy, in the last bagatelle. But the choreography is all Morris, in its formal wedding to the music, its subtle emotional content, its uncommon treatment of common folk steps, and the way the simplest gestures come together to speak volumes. As the number of dancers decreases, the technical demands and emotional textures increase, and the piece moves to a whirling climax with a silent coda.
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Title Annotation:Ohio Theatre, Columbus, OH
Author:Zuck, Barbara
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Aug 1, 1994
Words:329
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