Pearlann Porter and her dance-and-multimedia troupe found a great way to both extend their Second Saturdays season and mark their fifth anniversary. This pair of shows on Dec. 12 reunited some alumni of the company with DJ Sorta, whose apartment record parties Porter says were a key inspiration for starting Pillow Project in the first place.
Primarily, it was an evening of loose fun, with the five dancers engaged in well over an hour of sportive and sexily playful dance. Joining current Pillow members Beth Ratas, Angela Essler and Kaylin Horgan were alums Ben Wegman (now with D.C.'s Liz Lerman Dance Exchange) and Dionna PridGeon (who's moved on to dancing, choreographing and teaching in Chicago.)
Sorta provided the tunes, with interludes to demonstrate his skills on the turntables. The disciplines merged with the charming finale, built around the dancers mimicking turntable scratching with a wet hardwood floor and squeaky sneakers. Between the 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows, performance painter Kevin "The Nerve" Wenner created a large-scale work to an original soundscape.
Since founding the group, in 2004, Point Park alumna Porter has steadily built a reputation for shows that are accessible, fun and spectacle-oriented. (I first saw her approach a few years back with Concept Album, a classic-rock-themed show in Shadyside's Hunt Armory.)
This was my first trip to Porter's The Space Upstairs, a formerly ad hoc performance space over top of Construction Junction. Primarily to host these Second Saturdays shows, she's transformed the loft-style space into a half-polished, half-raw lounge, that flooring complemented by a bar and little circles of upholstered chairs.
The wonderfully informal atmosphere indeed made it feel much like you'd slipped into someone's flat and a dance show broke out. Keep The Space Upstairs on your checklist for when Second Saturdays resumes next year. (www.pillowproject.org)