Four years ago, Liverpool, England, the city that fathered the Beatles, hired a renowned choreographer Mark Morris to create a dance that would honor Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of The Beatles’ most influential albums.
Two years ago, the Mark Morris Dance Group toured the United States with the piece called Pepperland.
A tribute to the Beatles, the 70-minute dance was an explosion of jazzy color, with innovative modern dance moves and lots of music, including six Beatles songs. The Washington Post found the dance lovely.
“Pepperland is an ecstatic and provocative tribute to the Beatles,” said dance writer Sarah L. Kaufman, “and like no country you’ve been to before. ”
Unfortunately, this dancing land of the Beatles did not come to Tucson that year. Because in the midst of all the praise, Pepperland turned gloomy. COVID had come down and the tour came to a halt. Tucson would have to wait.
Like all the other choreographers, Morris has spent much of the last year and a half stuck in the studio, but he took the opportunity to experiment with new ways of dancing.
Instead of leading some of the country’s best modern dancers on American stages, he put them in dance videos, filmed in secluded New York City apartments, with the performers dancing solo. The online videos were a success, and bit by bit the troupe ventured cautiously into the world. Over the past month, the always innovative Morris launched new works created during the pandemic. The dancers performed them outdoors in different parts of the Big Apple.
Now, finally, the troupe is back on the road, ready to take to the stage. Luckily for old Pueblo, Tucson is one of their first stops. Mark Morris Dance Group will perform the dance at Centennial Hall on Thursday, October 21.
Morris is an essential choreographer and his dancers are always superb. If you go, you can watch Morris’s team dance to six Beatles songs: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band “,” With a little help from my friends “,” A day in the life “,” When I’m sixty-Four, “” In You Without You “and” Penny Lane. “Musician Ethan Iverson has arranged Beatles songs and also provided his own jazz. Music is always essential in a work by Morris.
As The New York Time puts it, Mark Morris is perhaps “the most successful and influential choreographer in the world, and arguably the most musical.”
Modern Dance from the Mark Morris Dance Group, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 21
Centennial Hall, on the UA campus
70 minutes, without intermission
Face cover required, $ 45 to $ 80 general; $ 10 discount tickets for back row students; Discounted $ 40 back row tickets for AU faculty and staff, seniors 55 and over, and military personnel. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster for a fee. ticketmaster.com.