Dance preview: Pillow Project lights up with free-wheeling dance program
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Pillow Project artistic director Pearlann Porter is all about the unexpected.
In her world, an empty space can become an intimate lounge for spontaneous jazz dance and live music, choreography is a negotiable road map and dancers' bodies are instruments.
Her latest work, "Backlit in a Whole New D," follows suit, promising to whisk its watchers "into a new dimension" with an hour of 3-D light effects and Beastie Boys music.
"It's a light show with people," she says.
It premieres this Friday and Saturday at The Space Upstairs in Point Breeze.
A mention of 3-D harkens thoughts of an IMAX theater experience, but audiences shouldn't expect that. Ms. Porter achieves the multidimensional look by using projectors to shine layers of colors and light beams about the space, a process she calls luminography. Guests also will be given 3-D glasses to wear, if they'd like.
"It's a play on light. It's a play on dimension. It's a play on distance," Ms. Porter says.
The backbone of the piece is the sound track, the Beastie Boys' 1996 instrumental album, "The In Sound From Way Out!"
"This album is something I've been obsessed with since college," she says. "The best way I can describe it is part Rat Pack, part Tarantino movie ... and a little bit of Gene Kelly. It's that sort of thing."
Bits of it have continued to crop up in Pillow Project creations since its founding in 2004. So she decided to devote a whole piece to it.
"If I had to describe musically how I feel when I move, it's this album," Ms. Porter says. "This to me, this is my jam."
Like much of Ms. Porter's recent works, structured choreography is exchanged for her freejazz approach, where she gives dancers guidelines but allows them the freedom to interpret the steps and music how they feel fit for that performance.
"It's 'play it every night live,' " she says.
Freejazz is a way of moving Ms. Porter has continued to tap into through her recent trips to Paris, where she develops performance concepts and explores spontaneous movement with jazz musicians, poets and street artists she encounters. In the near future, she is planning a three-month sabbatical to Paris so she can dive deeper into these ways of moving and artist collaborations.
This weekend, freejazz, the music and light tricks will interlace for an experience that can be unique for each person who sees the show.
"They'll feel that they just watched an album, they just watched five bodies jazz with each other, with their energy, with their vibe," Ms. Porter says. "I want them to be so inside what we're doing. It's not about them watching dance. It's about them dancing with us, we're just the ones who are moving."
First Published January 23, 2013 12:00 am