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Back from Paris, The Pillow Project tries out some new moves.

"The dancers will be treating their bodies not as an instrument of dance but as an instrument of music."

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Pillow Project dancers Brent Luebbert and Kaylin Horgan. - PHOTO BY CASSIE KAY PHOTOGRAPHY.
  • Photo by Cassie Kay Photography.
  • Pillow Project dancers Brent Luebbert and Kaylin Horgan.

An anonymous donation allowed The Pillow Project to perform in Paris last month with jazz poet and Pittsburgh native Moe Seager. More luck on that trip introduced the dance troupe to noted free-jazz saxophonist Sabir Mateen, who took an instant liking to the company. And Seager's trip to Pittsburgh this month presented the perfect opportunity for them all to come together for a special edition of The Pillow Project's Second Saturdays series.

On Nov. 12, Seager, Mateen and a few local jazz musicians will join Pillow Project in its Point Breeze studio/performance space for an evening of music and dance. The program includes the Pittsburgh premiere of Pillow Project artistic director Pearlann Porter's new conceptual performance piece "The Fifth in Jazz," plus the final chapter of Paper Memory, 2010's critically acclaimed performance installation. 

During the first half of the evening, Pillow Project's four dancers will improvise movement alongside performances by Seager, Mateen and the other musicians.  

"The dancers will be treating their bodies not as an instrument of dance but as an instrument of music," says Porter. 

For Porter, that means that dancers will ignore conscious considerations of body shape and architecture, instead responding viscerally, as visual collaborators with the musicians.

The idea of dancer as musician is not a new one. But Porter feels her latest movement language for the company, which she calls "postmodern free-jazz movement," could be a unique take.

During the band's breaks, the audience will see a less off-the-cuff version of Porter's style. Works include the 15-minute duet "The Fifth in Jazz," set to music by Mal Waldron with visual projections by Mike Cooper, and "Dirty Solo Up in Strobe," a wild seven-minute piece set to original music by Dario Micelli and lit only by camera flashes. 

The evening concludes with the 45-minute "The Memory of Paper." It's a shortened version of Paper Memory, a work about a writer and the story he creates and records using the nearly forgotten tools of pen and paper. In this experimental piece, original cast member Brent Luebbert, accompanied only by video projections of two fellow Paper Memory performers, will try to recreate his role strictly from memory -- after being separated from the work for a year, and with no prior rehearsal.

 

THE PILLOW PROJECT Second Saturdays 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 12. The Space Upstairs, 214 N. Lexington St., Point Breeze. $10 suggested donation at the door. 412-225-9269 or www.pillowproject.org

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