The lights never quite came up during the Mark Morris Dance Group’s December performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Toward the end of both programs--an array of dances that included two world premières and six New York premières—one felt deflated by the dusk, as if sitting there in sunglasses. Was the consistently low wattage simply a coincidence of repertory? Could it be that Michael Chybowski, who lit all but two of the dances, prefers gloom? Maybe the lighting was metaphorical, an atmospheric dimming that is its own aside or shadow or subtext.

Morris’s last engagement at BAM was a GE-light-bulb of an idea called The Hard Nut, a TV-age take on The Nutcracker that was nothing if not bright—the better to see the suburban subversion onstage. This winter’s engagement came to us in a...


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