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The Pillow Project UNDERSTARS



Jaka Pearl Porter


A Winged Victory for the Sullen


The creation of UNDERSTARS was made possible by a grant from The Heinz Endowments Small Arts Initiative 

The Pillow Project's newest full-length work UNDERSTARS is an intimate, up-close performance, solely illuminated by the company's original projected-light concepts. The hour-long work features the improvisational methodology and language of The Pillow Project dance company (in direction from Artistic Director Jaka Pearl Porter) in a piece where they slowly remember the romantic language of human contact.


UNDERSTARS emerged from a time of profound isolation, loss, loneliness, and disconnection where our bodies were longing for touch,” says Porter. “I created this hour-long work with our accumulated tensions and releases as a direct response to our enduring filaments of connection to one another... despite what has felt like galactic distances of space between us. Here, we found ourselves ⏤ seemingly alone and untethered ⏤ held together under the stars."

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Jaka Pearl Porter


PJ Roduta


The Pillow Project's NOW:PLAYING is both a full-length and modular work lit entirely through a new and original approach to theatrical projected-light design. Created by Artistic Directors: poet/musician John Lambert and dancer/founder Jaka Pearl Porter), this hour or 20-minute long performance with original score (created by long-time Pillow collaborator PJ Roduta) is best described as "light-specific dance."

By utilizing four video projectors aimed across the floor from the sides of the stage, the dancers are exclusively illuminated by animated and scrolling elements of bands of light in high-contrast to the background of pure darkness. The light creates illusions out of the (whole and partial) bodies of dancers, who seemingly appear and disappear from nowhere.


Through her choreographic direction, Porter and the small cast of motion artists from The Pillow Project will play in the postmodern-jazz improvography that has been the hallmark of the company.

“With all my work, I aim to challenge the audience as much as the dancers,” says Porter. “I want them to question what their looking at, how it’s possible to be seeing what they’re seeing. I want them to forget they are in a theater watching human bodies dance and that this isn’t just their imagination of the music. I really enjoy making work that seems somehow impossible.”


NOW:PLAYING combines three facts: the present tense ‘Now’ is the definition of when improvisation happens; and, integrally, the dancers literally press ‘Play’ in unison at the start of the performance to initiate the precisely timed video projection they will play in; it also served as iconic theatrical announcement for the first Pillow Project feature length performance having ever to occurred in a theater!

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