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Zek Stewart + Kaylin Horgan in a 2016 THOUGHT POCKET  |   photography by Aaron Jackendoff



THOUGHT POCKETS are uncommon movement created in common places. Pillow Project's long-format performance concepts that happen throughout Downtown Pittsburgh. By taking modern dance into everyday pedestrian contexts, these 4-hour, extended performances are created for anyone to walk up to, over, around, pass through, or pass by.

THOUGHT POCKETS are uncommon movements, physical shapes, and unusual visual patterns unfolding in slow motion through durational-performances that speak of vulnerability, time, and the beauty of the unexpected. 

John Lambert and Moriah Ella Mason in a 2016 THOUGHT POCKET  |  photography by Aaron Jackendoff




Can it be as common the statues and murals we’re fortunate to have present in our everyday experience?  Where is all the dance in our daily lives?


Imagine if dance was a ubiquitous public art.  Just there, existing in your daily experience. Expressive, modern movement integrated as a common presence.  


Could we make dance that common?  Could we open it to any layperson’s questions, and hold ourselves accountable to explaining? What if we left it to the volition of the viewer how long they watched? Give them no programs to handle, no enforced place to sit, just let everyone have their private experience of it, in their own time, where no cue to applaud ever occurs.

Anna Thompson + Pearlann Porter in a 2016 THOUGHT POCKET  |  photography by Aaron Jackendoff

Zek Stewart + company in a 2016 THOUGHT POCKET  |  photography by Aaron Jackendoff

The artists wears what natural expressions suit them, and to react courteously and authentically when addressed by strangers up close.  Yes, we encourage the public to address the dancers as ordinary people, just as the dancers are encouraged to respond honestly and in short, and to continue on in their moment unperturbed.  Art is a conversation, after all. And dance, as a conversation, has been absent from many people’s lives.


Many of the barriers have been erected, in fact, by us, the artists, with our art held captive, in a sense, on the stage.  Thought Pockets is a chance to dance without the formal remove, without any perimeter presumed. It’s movement art people can move through--which can turn a witness into art for a moment, too.  They can pause and watch the workings from within. They can even be included.


This is art composed in relation to real contexts in real time, the circumstance the dancers are in is allowed to be an influence on the creation.  Their focus is not blocking-out the world, these dancers are open to the information occurring in their world. It affects how they move. This is art that is listening, art that is responding. It’s a cognizant art that experiences its audience and its environment.

Rather than define the way people relate to us, we wanted to encounter an audience in their own context, and allow them to define their own relationship to us.  

For us, great art is like a bell ringing inside you as you walk away, and you carry its effect with you. If we put intentful art in common spaces we know it can change people’s inner space, for a little while.


. . . Ever walk through a dance to get to the bus? That would change you, wouldn’t it?


So, we asked ourselves “How can movement art be made more accessible?  and How accessible can it be?” We think it’s time we gave uncommon movement the opportunity to occur in common places.


From this question came: Thought Pockets. The idea was to give dance freely: remove the stage, remove the spectacle, and place modern dance in pedestrian pathways where anyone could encounter it.  


Anna Thompson + Zek Stewart in a 2013 THOUGHT POCKET  |  photography by Samuel Scanlon

This is art that nobody is coming to see with a dedication of time out of their lives.  It’s just there, along the way. It’s meant to be found. It’s artistry as a surprise gift given humbly.  And a gift is a thing you give without expectation. So, this art comes with no social contract, because the audience is accidental--’aleatoric’ in our terms, which means ‘involving the element of chance.


. . . Common beauty infused freely and made available to everyone equally.

Anna Thompson in a 2016 THOUGHT POCKET  |  artwork by Pearlann Porter + John Lambert  |  photography by Aaron Jackendoff

THOUGHT POCKETS have been made possible by support from

The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Opportunity Fund and by the generosity of our Anonymous donors

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