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The Pillow Projects are

improviational mixed-medium (post)Jazz

performance installations and happenings.



Inspired by the foundational ideas of Method Acting and Postmodern Dance, Pillow Projects seek to identify with the early philosophical and emotional energy of American jazz music without technical, presentational or commercial constraints.





Pearlann Porter & John Lambert


Founded by Artistic Director Pearlann Porter in 2004, The Pillow Project is a project-based dance company of improvisational/ multidisciplinary/ experimental collaborations created within our own postmodern-jazz philosophy and language of THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION.  


We create feature-length performance-installations, projected light-specific concert work, live improvisational jazz-happenings, and enact public durational-performance concepts in Pittsburgh and internationally to challenge the ideas of "What is Dance?", "Who is a Dancer?", and "How can Dance be experienced?".


Since 2006, The Space Upstairs has been our permanent artistic residence and location of most of our deepest investigative work, performances, and teachings. The Space Upstairs is both our creative laboratory for navigating artistic risks and our forum for sharing what we learn, innovating wholly new audience experiences and continually seeking new expressions of our jazz. It is here we choose to perform without the formal division of a traditional stage so that intimate, inclusive interactions can occur with our audiences, and the nuances of our human experiences can be witnessed and felt.

The Pillow Project
The Pillow Project
The Pillow Project
The Pillow Project




THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION™ is a state of being — a play between music and the dancers, articulating sound into visual-motion — partnering with the music to share another dimension of what we hear. The organic use of directed-improvisation within lightly or loosely structured degrees of choreography highlights the individuality of the movement artists, and is experienced as the real-time presence of the dancer that offers a way to hear and experience the music differently. 


THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION™ is a developed language of a postmodern jazz philosophy and physical-methodology created by Artistic Directors Pearlann Porter & John Lambert. The improvisational-based method makes use of improvography where the aesthetic of the work is at its core individualism. Each dancer is given space in any synchronized and choreographed sequence to personalize their motion and music choices within the direction, including the choice to deviate and be unexpected. It is the artistic discretion and instincts of the individual dancer that are fostered and wielded, and to clearly and fully investigate the deepest root of the work together so that anyone can play the moment like a jazz musician… visually.


To jazz…as a verb.

The Pillow Project
Pearlann Porter
Pearlann Porter
The Pillow Project Pearlann Porter
Pearlann Porter
The Pillow Project Pearlann Porter



Pearlann Porter is an improvisational performing artist, visual-conductor, physical-poet and experimental filmmaker, Pearlann is a passionate instigator of new ideas in dance and an investigator of physical expression.


Her medium is jazz. Her canvases are Pittsburgh and Paris.


Pearlann Porter has been teaching and creating from her postmodern-jazz dance philosophy and improvisational language of  THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION for over 20 years.

Through her company, The Pillow Project (established in 2004), she has enacted public performance concepts in Pittsburgh and internationally, and for the past 16 years The Space Upstairs has been her permanent artistic residence. She often creates performances without the formal division of a traditional stage so that intimate, inclusive interactions can occur with her audiences, helping her in building a creative community. 'Postmodern-jazz dance', to her, is a verb and creation method, and The Space Upstairs is both her laboratory for navigating artistic risks and her forum for sharing what she has learned, innovating wholly new audience experiences.


Pearlann continues to represent herself as a contemporary artist of American modern-jazz dance, acknowledging she can not be everything the art of jazz is or has been, only the best example she has evolved to live herself. Her idea of modern-jazz dance is driven by the concept that jazz is a partnering of music with dancers as physical musicians: Dancers articulate sound into visual motion to share another live dimension. The Pillow Project is her idea of dancers 'jazzing the music'.


Her work focuses on her own modern-jazz dance movement methods and signature 'improvography' style that has been a staple in her professionally produced work for over 20 years. Through The Pillow Project, Pearlann has extensive creation and production experience. She has entirely self-organized and produced large-scale performance events such as at The Hunt Armory (The Concept Album - 2005) and the first-ever all-day dance event at The Carrie Furnace (The Jazz Furnace - 2013).  She has created a recurring month-long performance series on the public streets (Thought Pockets - Downtown Pittsburgh, NYC, Paris, London, Dublin).

Pearlann is also the Founding Director of The Space Upstairs, where she is a full-time Resident Artist and the regular host/creator of the long-running Second Saturdays jazz-happenings. She holds a BFA in Dance from Point Park University where she has been on dance faculty for 20+ years. She has held artist residencies and/or created original work for GroundWorks DanceTheater, The Dance Alloy, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock University, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, LABCO Dance, and TEDxGrandviewAve. Pearlann was named one of Dance Magazine's 25 To Watch in 2010, Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Best in Dance (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the 'Burgh (2013, 2018), and has been six-times nominated for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award.

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