DANCE THIS WEEKEND: The Pillow Project’s NOW: PLAYING Sheds New Light on Dance, while Ru Emmons and Corrine Jasmin present a journey of queer time travel

By December 5, 2019 No Comments

The Pillow Project in NOW:PLAYING. (Photo: Jonathan Aryeh Wayne)

By Steve Sucato
Pittsburgh Current Dance Writer

The Pillow Project’s name comes from the creative state found in dreams. The influential local dance troupe founded in 2004 by Pearlann Porter has since dreamed up a number of cutting edge experimental dance and music works incorporating technology, innovative lighting and Porter’s signature Postmodern-Jazz movement method.  They include the critically-acclaimed Paper Memory, The Green Swan, Itch of the Key and Luminography. Building on the lighting innovations developed in those prior works comes Porter’s latest dance-theater experience, NOW: PLAYING, performed by the Pillow Project, December 7 & 8 at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater.

The world premiere production features a unique approach to theatrical lighting not seen before utilizes video projected fields of moving light aimed across a darkened stage from the sides to illuminate the work’s performers who seemingly instantly appear from nowhere and likewise disappear back into darkness. 

Says Porter, “The dancers are only being lit by video from the projectors so the lighting can have motion to it, it can vibrate, scroll up from the floor, particle and disappear.  “This has opened up a completely new dimension of choreographing.”

The effect Porter says is like watching a live-action music video unfold before you. With that however, Porter says the learning curve and the amount of time consumed in taking this new approach has been so intense that it may be the hardest thing she has undertaken as a dance-maker.  

The Pillow Project performs NOW: PLAYING, 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 & Sunday, Dec. 8, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Tickets $10-15. (412) 363-3000 or 

“More than anything I wanted to make a piece that would be absolutely fun to watch and do,” says Porter. I have never created a full-length work for a proscenium theater space and one that has storyline.  It will be a one-of-a-kind experience.”

Directed by Porter and John Lambert, the hour-long NOW: PLAYING is performed by 5-dancers (each in different footwear) to an original score by longtime company collaborator PJ Roduta.  

“It begins from nothing and ends from nothing and in the most postmodern way possible I deconstruct the theater and make it raw,” says Porter.  “I want the audience not to be quite sure when the work starts or ends.”



Movement artist Ru Emmons and interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker and writer join forces for Street Light, an experience of queer time travel, where the two performers embody their past, present, and future selves says Emmons. The in-progress performance, part of KST’s Freshworks Residency program, will take place Friday, December 6 at KST’ Alloy Studios. 

In the collaborative 30-minute work set to varied collection of songs, poems and text,  the two artists incorporate movement, sound, and video to investigate the process of personal and collective transformation.

Conceived, written, directed and performed by the pair, with Street Light the pair “want you to go home, look in the mirror, and talk nicer to yourself (all of your selves),” says Emmons. “At its core, both of our work centers on social commentary and healing which will always be relevant. Healing, in turn, always proves itself to be cyclical. In this current climate, there is this idea of separation, the other, the outcast, exclusion rather than inclusion. This work is meant to reclaim space, and empower us all to look inward.” 

Ru Emmons and Corrine Jasmin perform Street Light, 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 6. KST’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave., East Liberty.  Pay What Makes You Happy! Tickets.  (412) 363-3000 or


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