In his short career as a choreographer—he began creating dances for his own company in 1980—Mark Morris has produced a body of work prodigious in its volume and scope, and troubling in the elusiveness of its intentions. New Yorkers were offered a smorgasbord of Morrisiana this autumn during a month-long period that saw a “Great Performances” broadcast on PBS, the local premiere of a ballet commissioned by the Joffrey, the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel’s performance of a piece originally created for his own company, and the Mark Morris Dance Group’s mixed bill at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.

The dozen works these programs comprised form a dizzying array that seems almost purposely devised to defy categorization. Yet several genres can be distinguished within Morris’s oeuvre. There are the mimed vocal pieces (Robe of...


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