Introducing one of our volunteer dance reviewers, Jazmine Watts-Moast:
I graduated from Falmouth University in 2016 with a BA (Hons) in dance and performance.
Since graduating I have been pursuing a dance career as a freelance dance practitioner
teaching and performing within the South West of England.
Review of Pepperland | Mark Morris Dance Group
by Jazmine Watts-Moast
Tuesday 16th April 2019 at Theatre Royal Plymouth
Pepperland was choreographed by New York Choreographer Mark Morris to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I had never seen anything by Mark Morris before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The piece started off with all the dancers on stage in a formation that unravelled followed by a ‘presentation’ of iconic names that I presumed lived in the 50’s and 60’s. I didn’t recognise many of the names of the characters so felt a little left out as the audience members around me shared a laugh together whilst I sat in puzzlement. I really felt this piece targeted an older age group, obviously with the association with the Beatles music, along with Mark Morris himself choreographing since the 80’s. Morris is a classical choreographer, working and choreographing for ballets and operas, which was really evident in this piece. Pepperland is a juxtaposition of classical ballet steps and popular social dance moves from the Beatles era, which was really entertaining to watch.
Morris also used complex formations that moved in and out of each other, inter changing and coming back together, which transformed the dancer’s relationship to the space and to one another, giving simple steps and sequences of moves a complexity. Now, let’s get onto the most obvious reason most of the audience members would have been at the show; the music. Having been inspired by the music of The Beatles, I at least expected to hear some familiar songs. However, there was only little snippets of sound that I recognised as the music was composed by Ethen Iverson with ‘interspersing arrangements’ from songs off the album. The music was also composed in a way that was familiar to Morris in choreographing for ballets that imitates sequences such as Allegro and Adagio.
Overall, I highly enjoyed watching Pepperland, it was an evening of watching lovely steps on stage. I am normally inclined to watch performances that have a strong voice which convey a strong message, this did neither but was a welcome respite from the meaningful and highly emotive Contemporary dance that is emerging today.
Top Image: Mark Morris Dance Group