Echoes and pre-echoes: the displacement of time in Mark Morris's "Dido and Aeneas"

Sophia Preston

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Detailed choreo-musical analysis of Mark Morris’s Dido and Aeneas reveals that Morris incorporates into the dance the same foreshadowing of events and presentiments of tragedy employed by Purcell in the music. The resultant structure becomes cyclical with pre-echoes of motifs and tonalities only becoming evident in the light of their later manifestation in the dance and opera. The combination of such challenges to a linear chronology results in a moving rendition of an archetypal, because apparently inevitable, tragedy. The choreo-musical analysis also articulates the way in which Morris has drawn on external associations in his choreography. It becomes apparent that as well as utilising a `knowing’, postmodern radical juxtaposition of his eclectic range of movement sources (Preston, 1998) Morris also matches different references to the different characteristics of his own double-role. Thus, as Dido, he performs gestures taken from classical dance forms while, as the Sorceress, he employs the movements of Disney’s Cruella de Vil. The points at which Dido `slips’ into movements from popular culture are those at which she is allowing herself to be deceived. The inevitability of Dido’s fate is reinforced through the timelessness engendered both by the anachronistic use of historical references and the cyclical nature of the dance and music structures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)344-348
    JournalDancing in the Millennium: an International Conference: Proceedings
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2000


    • Mark Morris
    • "Dido and Aeneas"
    • Dance and Music structures


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