The Look of Love: Mark Morris’s Tribute to the late Burt Bacharach

Following the hugely successful Pepperland, a tribute to the Beatles, Mark Morris and musical collaborator Ethan Iverson teamed up again. The result, The Look of Love, pays homage to the chart-topping songs of Burt Bacharach. The Mark Morris Dance Group will present the evening length work as part of Penn Live Arts 2024 season.

Debra Danese: What inspired you to create a show based on Burt Bacharach’s music?

Mark Morris: My former music director and I had often talked about our love for Mr. Bacharach’s music. Many years on, we decided it was time to make up an evening of dance and music to some of the songs. We had recently had wonderful success with our treatment of songs from ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. So, why not?

DD: What was your process for the song selection? 

MM: Both of us had favorite, and less favorite songs to choose from the vast selection of music by Mr. Bacharach, and his most frequent lyricist, Hal David. We worked out a set of pieces that vary in tempo, rhythm, key, mood and story. We made arrangements of a dozen or so numbers, avoiding the jukebox model and direct narrative. The band consists of piano, bass, percussion, trumpet, lead vocal and two backup singers, plus 10 dancers. It is an hour long.

DD: Did Mr. Bacharach ever have a chance to see The Look of Love? If so, what was his response?

MM: We had met on Zoom a few times with our ‘people’ and his. He kindly and eagerly granted us carte blanche in our choices and approach to using the music. Lucky for us, he was able to attend our last, private dress rehearsal before the world premiere at BroadStage, in Santa Monica, CA. He was delighted, and very encouraging, and a darling genius. He died not long after. ‘The Look of Love’ immediately became a de facto tribute to his work and to him.

DD: How long did it take to create the full evening-length work? 

MM: All told, about a year of work, off and on.

DD: What do you most enjoy about this creative process? 

MM: It is what I have been doing all of my life and it is natural and normal for me. I love making it up on the spot, the research, the spontaneity of working with wonderful music, great dancers, and other collaborators. And I am happy to watch and listen.

[Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street] May 31-June 1, 2024;

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