We got the Beat! ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’-inspired dance comes to Brooklyn Academy of Music

Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper, too: “Pepperland,” a dance performance inspired by the music of the Beatles, will bounce into the Brooklyn Academy of Music on May 8.
Mat Hayward

It’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Dance! We hope you will enjoy the show!

Members of a Fort Greene dance troupe will pirouette, jump, and groove to the tunes of the Beatles at Brooklyn Academy of Music in a show opening on May 8, giving fans young and old a chance to relive the sensation from Liverpool — with dance!

“Their music is beloved even now, and this helps audiences hear, feel, and see the music in a deeper way all these decades later,” said Lauren Grant, one of the piece’s 15 dancers.

The Beatles-inspired dance bonanza “Pepperland,” features six Fab Four classics from the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, including the title track, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “A Day in the Life,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” and “Within You Without You,” along with “Penny Lane” — originally slated for the album, but released separately. Those songs will be matched by an equal number of original, Pepper-inspired tunes crafted by jazz composer Ethan Iverson, all performed live by a quirky ensemble featuring the sax, trombone, keyboard, vocals, and a theremin, the psychedelic electronic instrument played without any physical contact. The odd assembly creates a sound that propels the dancers in a unique direction, said Grant.

“This is not the type of band we typically work with, to have these sounds accompany our movement is super fun and atypical, it really feeds us on stage,” she said.

The show started when the city of Liverpool, home of the Beatles, contracted choreographer Mark Morris, founder of Fort Greene’s Mark Morris Dance Group, to create a dance piece celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 album. The show premiered at Liverpool’s “Sgt. Pepper at 50 Festival” in 2017, and has since toured the world. The May 8 opening will be its first appearance in New York City.

Morris’s choreography incorporates an eclectic variety of dance styles, which reflects the inspiration that the Beatles found in music throughout the world, said Grant.

“There’s a pop dance feel in some of this, there’s ballet, and Indian dance, especially during the ‘Within You, Without You’ section, which has some basis in Indian music,” she said.

Catch “Pepperland” at Brooklyn Academy of Music [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636–4100, bam.org]. May 8–11 at 7:30 pm. $30–$100.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Color commentary: The bright costumes in “Pepperland” recall the mod styles of the 1960s.
Robbie Jack

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