Choreographer Mark Morris is known for his irreverent dance compositions that challenge conventions and flip traditional gender roles, as well as for his volatile temper and colorful soundbites.

The Seattle native founded his own dance company at the age of 24, and made a splash on the dance scene when he put on his first show at Merce Cunningham's studio in 1980. His approach was radical from the start: Morris upended gender roles and featured women lifting men in the air, same-sex couples, and men dressed in frilly skirts. In 1988, he staged one of his most famous works, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, set to the music of Handel. Two years later, he made one of his canniest business moves, partnering with Mikhail Baryshnikov to found the White Oak Dance Project, which staged Morris' compositions (and leveraged Baryshnikov's name). The project disbanded in 2002, but Morris continues to choreograph works and oversee his Mark Morris Dance Group in Fort Greene.

Critical reviews of Morris' work have been mixed over the years; his tendency to go against convention (many of his dancers are "fat," i.e. not anorexic) has confounded dance fans. And his willingness to experiment hasn't always been well-received. That said, he's choreographed for the most renowned companies around the world (San Francisco Ballet, ABT, and Boston Ballet), collaborated on projects with other artistic notables (such as close friend Isaac Mizrahi, and sustained his vibrant dance company, which continues to perform regularly and tour widely, for a quarter-century now. He's dabbled in conducting orchestras, like the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

The "avatar of queer culture" has always delighting in shocking people with his brash behavior, both on the stage and in person. Morris—who once told a reporter that the fictional character he most identifies with is God—is famous for his temper tantrums and hard partying. He's never held back in interviews with the press either; his response when a journalist asked him about the cheesy Irish dance show Riverdance?: "I just like that they line up so well. It would be easy to shoot them. You could just mow them down all in one line." [Image via Getty]