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Press Release: Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland - UK & Ireland Tour 2019

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Co-commissioner, Dance Consortium presents

Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland - UK & Ireland Tour 2019

For dance and Beatles fans alike, a captivating dance work inspired by

The Beatles’ revolutionary Sgt. Pepper’s album


Media release: Monday 23 July 2018 - The Beatles’ ground-breaking 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is the inspiration behind Mark Morris Dance Group’s (MMDG) Pepperland, presented by co-commissioner Dance Consortium and touring across the UK between 20 March & 1 May 2019 (Ireland dates at the end of the tour, to be announced).




Pepperland is legendary choreographer Mark Morris’ unique tribute to the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic LP. Hailed as the first-ever ‘art rock’ album and widely regarded as the best rock and roll album of all time, it spent 27 weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart and 15 weeks at number one in the USA. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive the honour.


Mark Morris is renowned as an intensely musical choreographer and is undeviating in his devotion to music. The New York Times said Morris is the “most successful and influential choreographer alive and indisputably the most musical”. Since founding MMDG in 1980, he has created almost 150 works for the company, many of which are widely considered masterpieces.


By request of the City of Liverpool, Morris created Pepperland to pay homage to The Beatles, the album and its landmark anniversary. Its world premiere performances kicked off Liverpool’s Sgt. Pepper at 50 Festival in May 2017 and received critical and audience acclaim for both its dance and music.


Now, set to tour across the UK – London, Birmingham, Salford Quays, Bradford, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Cardiff, Plymouth, Southampton, Norwich and Newcastle - Pepperland features an original score by composer Ethan Iverson, inspired by some of the album’s most enduring hits: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; With a Little Help From My Friends; A Day in the Life; When I’m Sixty-Four; Within You Without You; and Penny Lane. Iverson’s fresh arrangements of the original tracks will be performed live by MMDG Music Ensemble - Pepperland‘s unique chamber music group - and is interspersed with six original Pepper-inspired pieces that complement Morris’ profound understanding of classical music styles of allegro, scherzo, adagio, and the blues.


The septet music ensemble is led by Iverson on piano. Best known as long-time pianist with the trio Bad Plus, which he left last year, Iverson was selected by Time Out New York as one of 25 essential New York jazz icons, “perhaps NYC’s most thoughtful and passionate student of jazz tradition—the most admirable sort of artist/scholar.” For Pepperland he is joined by New York City’s finest musicians specializing in voice (Clinton Curtis), theremin (Rob Schwimmer), soprano sax (Sam Newsome), trombone (Jacob Garchik), organ/harpsichord (Colin Fowler) and percussion (Vincent Sperrazza).


Costume designer Elizabeth Kurtzman has designed numerous pieces for MMDG, including Dancing Honeymoon, Sang-Froid, The Argument, Greek to Me, Four Saints in Three Acts, Empire Garden, Visitation, Crosswalk, Petrichor and Pure Dance Items. Her bright, candy-coloured costumes, often splayed in geometric patterns, recall the swinging sixties as Morris’ dancers evoke the freedom and energy of a time that revolutionised social and political norms.


Artistic director and choreographer Mark Morris, said:The music for Pepperland, arranged and extrapolating from tracks on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is important to me because of the enormous impact the album caused in popular culture at large. Beatlemania in the UK and particularly in the US was a pivotal event in the turbulent social/political semi-revolution of the late 1960s. As a very young person, I was dazzled and confused by the music. I loved it and I loved The Beatles. Then, over the years, I lost touch and lost interest partly because of overexposure. When I was approached to participate in the commemorative project in Liverpool, I re-examined the recording and found so much of interest in it that I eagerly took on the big project of turning these very familiar songs into an evening length music and dance show. Pepperland is the exciting result.”


Composer Ethan Iverson, added:The Pepperland score is a suite of chamber music performed by some of New York City’s finest iconoclasts. Half the piece is arrangements of the songs we all know, half is new danceable pieces responding to the strong undercurrent of classical music present on the original album.


Community engagement is a vital component MMDG’s work. The group integrates opportunities for dance, music, talks, and education at its Brooklyn home, the Mark Morris Dance Center, as well as on tour around the world.


Pepperland’s UK Tour 2019 will feature talks and participation events including MMDG’s renowned Dance for PD® workshops - born from the idea that people with Parkinson’s could benefit from the insight and specific techniques and methods used by dancers to guide their own bodies and minds. The workshops strive to increase coordination, balance, flexibility, and strength through music and movement from a broad range of dance styles.








Pepperland press quotes following its world premiere performance in Liverpool in May 2017:


…a truly joyous, celebratory work of art...brilliant homage to one of the great rock albums. ★★★★★ The Telegraph

A gorgeously entertaining and witty tribute to the classic Beatles album. ★★★★ The Guardian

The dance, like the album, is a seamless synthesis of classical, vaudeville and psychedelia... ★★★★ Financial Times

The choreography is deft and nuanced, at times skimming across the music’s bright surface, at times digging

Deeper. ★★★★ The Observer

Sunny and unpredictable. ★★★★ The Independent

...high-spirited, humour, eccentric charm and a joyous musical sensibility...guaranteed to raise a smile. ★★★★ The Times


Photo credit: Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland. Photography by Gareth Jones


Mark Morris Dance Group in Pepperland – UK Tour 2019 – listings:


Sadler’s Wells, LONDON (ON SALE NOVEMBER 2018)

Wed 20 – Sat 23 March at 7.30pm, plus matinees Thu at 2pm & Sat at 2.30pm   

Tickets: 020 7863 8000 // www.sadlerswells.com


Birmingham Hippodrome, BIRMINGHAM (ON SALE 29 AUGUST)

Tue 26 & Wed 27 March at 7.30pm

Tickets: 0844 338 5000 // www.birminghamhippodrome.com



Fri 29 and Sat 30 March at 8pm, plus Sat matinee at 2pm

Tickets: 0843 208 6000 // www.thelowry.com


Alhambra Theatre, BRADFORD (ON SALE)

Tue 2 & Wed 3 April at 8pm

Tickets: 01274 432000 // www.bradford-theatres.co.uk



Fri 5 & Sat 6 April at 8pm, plus Sat matinee at 2.30pm

Tickets: 0131 529 6000 // www.capitaltheatres.com


The Marlowe Theatre, CANTERBURY (ON SALE)

Tue 9 & Wed 10 April at 7.30pm

Tickets: 01227 787787 // www.marlowetheatre.com   


Wales Millennium Centre, CARDIFF (ON SALE 30 JULY)

Fri 12 and Sat 13 April at 8pm

Tickets: 029 2063 6464 www.wmc.org.uk


Theatre Royal Plymouth, PLYMOUTH (ON SALE)

Tue 16 & Wed 17 April at 7.30pm

Tickets: 01752 267222 // www.theatreroyal.com


Mayflower Theatre, SOUTHAMPTON (ON SALE)

Fri 19 & Sat 20 April at 7.30pm, plus Sat matinee at 2pm

Tickets: 02380 711811 // www.mayflower.org.uk



Tue 23 & Wed 24 April at 8pm, plus Wed matinee at 2.30pm

Tickets: 01603 63 00 00 // www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk


Theatre Royal, NEWCASTLE (ON SALE)

Fri 26 & Sat 27 April 7.30pm

Tickets: 08448 11 21 21 www.theatreroyal.co.uk

Running time – approximately one hour – no interval


Mark Morris has been hailed as the “the most successful and influential choreographer alive, and indisputably the most musical.” (New York Times). In addition to creating over 150 works for the Mark Morris Dance Group, he conducts orchestras, directs opera, and choreographs for ballet companies worldwide.  Morris’ work is acclaimed for its ingenuity, musicality, wit, and humanity. Named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation in 1991, he has received eleven honorary doctorates to date, and a multitude of awards, including the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity, the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music Award, and the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award. In 2015, Morris was inducted to the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York.


Formed in 1980, Mark Morris’ internationally-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) has received “highest praise for their technical aplomb, their musicality, and their sheer human authenticity.” (Bloomberg News). Live music and community engagement are vital components of the Dance Group. It has toured with its own musicians, the MMDG Music Ensemble, since 1996, and regularly collaborates with orchestras and opera companies around the world. MMDG’s film and television projects include Dido and Aeneas, The Hard Nut, Falling Down Stairs, the U.K.’s South Bank Show, and Live from Lincoln Center. In 2015 Morris’ signature work L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato premiered on PBS’ Great Performances. The Mark Morris Dance Center was opened in 2001 to provide a home for the dance group, rehearsal space for the dance community, programs for local children and seniors, and dance classes for students of all ages and abilities.


Ethan Iverson was a founding member of The Bad Plus, a game-changing collective with Reid Anderson and David King. The New York Times called TBP “…Better than anyone at melding the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.” During his 17-year tenure TBP performed in venues as diverse as the Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, and Bonnaroo; collaborated with Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, and the Mark Morris Dance Group; and created a faithful arrangement of Stravinky’s The Rite of Spring and a radical reinvention of Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction. Iverson also participates in the critically-acclaimed Billy Hart quartet with Mark Turner and Ben Street and occasionally performs with an elder statesman like Albert “Tootie” Heath or Ron Carter. In 2017 Iverson co-curated a major centennial celebration of Thelonious Monk at Duke University and in 2018 Iverson will be premiering an original piano concerto with the American Composers Orchestra and releasing a duo album with Mark Turner on ECM.


Pepperland was commissioned by Dance Consortium UK; American  Dance  Festival,  Durham,  North  Carolina;  Banff  Centre  for  Arts  and  Creativity  with  the  Sony Centre,  Toronto, Canada;  BAM,  Brooklyn,  New  York;  Cal  Performances,  UC  Berkeley,  Berkeley, California;  The  City  of  Liverpool,  England,  U.K.;  Hopkins  Center  for  the  Arts,  Dartmouth  College, Hanover, New Hampshire; International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, Connecticut; The John F. Kennedy  Center  for  the  Performing  Arts,  Washington, D.C.;  Krannert  Center  for  the  Performing  Arts, Urbana-Champaign;  La  Jolla  Music  Society,  La  Jolla, California;  Meyer  Sound,  Berkeley,  California; Seattle Theatre Group, Seattle, Washington; the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California; and  White  Bird, Portland,  Oregon.


Dance Consortium is a group of 19 large scale UK venues with a shared passion for engaging people with the best contemporary dance from across the world. Since its formation in 2000 Dance Consortium has presented 41 tours by 22 different companies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Israel and the USA. Their performances and education activities have been experienced by hundreds of thousands of people across all parts of the UK. Dance Consortium receives investment as a national portfolio organisation of Arts Council England.

Dance Consortium members: Grand Opera House Belfast; Birmingham Hippodrome; Alhambra Theatre Bradford; Brighton Dome; Marlowe Theatre Canterbury; Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff; Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin; Festival Theatre Edinburgh; Curve Theatre Leicester; Sadler’s Wells London; Milton Keynes Theatre; Theatre Royal Newcastle; Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham with Dance 4; Theatre Royal Plymouth; The Lowry Salford; The Mayflower, Southampton; New Victoria Theatre, Woking; Hull, New Theatre; Norwich Theatre Royal. Buxton Opera House (Guest Member 2018/19), Eden Court Theatre Inverness (Guest Member 2018/19).

www.danceconsortium.com // Twitter @DanceConsortium // www.facebook.com/danceconsortium   


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  • 4 months later...

Pepperland_Liverpool-2017_Gareth-Jones-043.jpg.c0d9f9d451c9b3c77b8ade812cf171d4.jpg  Pepperland_Liverpool-2017_Robbie-Jack-6428.jpg.aa1d01ec758977755654aa7eb91f3073.jpg  Pepperland_Liverpool-2017_Robbie-Jack-6811.jpg.222c2996a1e3b5ce2b1f154e53ecb918.jpg

Photo Credits:  Gareth Jones


Dublin has been added to the touring itinerary:

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, DUBLIN 

Tue 30 April & Wed 1 May at 7.30pm

Tickets: 0818 719 377 (Ticketmaster) www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

There's a great photo gallery here:  http://www.danceconsortium.com/touring/mark-morris-pepperland/resources/

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