The Charleston Gaillard Center is preparing to host a performance emphasizing the genius of one of the world’s premier choreographers and the eternal popularity of an iconic quartet. And while the alluring combination of the energy of Mark Morris Dance Group and the nostalgia of The Beatles is certain to light up the Martha & John M. Rivers Performance Hall, the two-day celebration also will offer much more than one night of captivating entertainment.
“Pepperland,” the dance group’s tribute to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” is scheduled for the evening of April 10, a performance that will bring to a close two days of activities aimed at exposing people of all ages to the arts, breaking down barriers for those dealing with Parkinson’s disease and just plain having fun.
The weekend’s activities get underway at 2 p.m. Saturday with a modern dance youth master class at the College of Charleston’s Cato Center for the Arts. Taught by Aaron Loux, a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group, the 90-minute session is for intermediate and advanced dancers.
A session that will help people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers find out how dance can build strength and agility is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday at the Gaillard Center.
“They can immerse themselves in dance and movement,” said Gaillard Center Director of Education Sterling DeVries. “What I like so much about this is that it knocks down walls for anyone who doesn’t feel like they can be part of a dancing class.”
She added that those who participate will be able to continue knocking down walls by accessing Mark Morris Dance Group programs virtually.
An open dance class for beginners and experienced dancers alike will be held on the lawn at the Gaillard Center at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We like for everything to stay within a line of fairness. We want to offer something that is accessible to community members without dance training or background,” deVries commented. “We want people of all ages and levels to get up and move and spark that interest in dance, to get them comfortable and feel like they’ve made a deeper connection.”
Outside of the Gaillard Center, the Battery Brass Band will warm up the crowd with their distinct Lowcountry sound, as well as Beatles hits, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The weekend’s activities, except for “Pepperland,” of course, are all offered at no charge.
Morris is considered by The New York Times to be “the most successful and influential choreographer alive.” His group performed in Charleston in 1985 and 1996 but not since. The “Pepperland” tour premiered in 2017 in Liverpool. The original score by Ethan Iverson includes arrangements of six songs from the iconic Beatles album, including “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.”
Stephanie Shipe, the Gaillard Center’s Vice President of Marketing & Sales, pointed out that “Pepperland” is not to be missed by fans of the Beatles.
“It’s a chance to see how someone has interpreted iconic songs, and that’s an opportunity you can’t pass up,” she said.
“It appeals to all ages,” deVries added. “It captures some people through the music of The Beatles, some from the bright, colorful costumes, and some dance lovers. We’re treating it like an all-ages-welcome community fun event.”
To purchase tickets for “Pepperland,” which starts at 7:30 p.m. on April 10, visit gaillardcenter.org or call 843-242-3099.