photography by Cassie K Rusnak
Founder / Co-Artistic Director / Mover
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 improvisational postjazz movement. Her canvases are Pittsburgh and Paris.
Pearlann is the Founding Artistic Director of The Pillow Project, one-half of The Ellipses Condition, and 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 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 five-times nominated for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award.
Pearlann currently lives in Pittsburgh and is (still) writing a book on physical-jazz and her postjazz methodology with her partner/collaborator John Lambert.
photography by Pearlann Porter
Co-Artistic Director / Carpenter / Poet
John Lambert is a practicing poet of over twenty years, previously of New Orleans and rooted now in Pittsburgh to collaborate with musicians, composers, dancers, mixed-media artists and writers to promote the sensibility of sharing ideas between the disciplines. As a classically trained, professional violinist, his methodology seeks a partnering of the lessons learned from music and other mediums with the opportunities inherent in dance.
He is a current resident artist at the Space Upstairs, acting as poet, writer, musician, master carpenter and student of Postjazz movement. At The Space he advocates insights be shared between art forms and provokes thought by replenishing prompts on walls in chalk.
He is partnered with Pearlann Porter (together known as The Ellipses Condition) in the creation, orchestration and funding of new works to engage audiences and performers, and to compile a formal document for publication on this new improvisational method. By choosing to live the Postjazz as a verb, he advocates that we need never be separate from our craft, in or out of any studio.
Resident Technical Director / Luminographer
Mike Cooper is the Resident Technical Director and videographer for The Space Upstairs, and has worked alongside director Pearlann Porter for over ten years, including The Pillow Project's Twenty Eighty-Four, Paper Memory and Backlit in a Whole New D. In this role he also developed 'Luminography', an original projection methodology that creates sensational and psychedelic imagery from nothing but a live video feed, no computers or filters necessary. Outside of The Space he has done traditional video work for local musicians such as Slowdanger, Stranger Convention, and Avi Diamond.
photography by Cassie K Rusnak
photography by Abby Gleason
Artist in Residence / Music Consultant
PJ is a full-time percussionist whose residency at the Space Upstairs since 2007 has seen him take the shape of musician, dancer, teacher and composer. His elastic rhythms and beat-scapes can be heard at nearly every Space Upstairs event either in the flesh or over the speakers at a monthly happening. PJ's profession as full-time dance accompanist has been a grindstone for his innate athleticism, sensitivity in storytelling the moment and untethered tone brimming with nods to cardiac arrhythmia, extended technique and his percussion study in Ghana. PJ's original compositions for The Pillow Project's Twenty Eighty-Four and Paper Memory launched a new chapter in scoring dance of which he has composed, performed, recorded and edited 9 within 9 years.
PJ is a trail-blazer, literally and figuratively, with a truly unique concoction of experience and influence. Like his free-jazz mentor, Milford Graves, PJ does not often settle into the background. PJ's recent performances might incorporate acoustic percussion, TerraPan (aka hang drum), minimalist piano, vocalization, digital sampling and looping, toy instruments, found percussion, meditation bells and bowls, and harmonica. With PJ, you never know.
Artists in Residence
Taylor Knight and Anna Thompson are Co-Founding Artistic Directors of slowdanger, a multidisciplinary performance duo based in Pittsburgh PA. Their work fuses sound and movement into an elusive, but illustrative combination of improvised contemporary and postmodern dance frameworks, found material, electronic instrumentation, vocalization, physiological centering and ontological examination. slowdanger uses performance as ritual practice to delve into patterns of the circular rhythm of life. Within this process, they use collected field recordings, writings, found objects and performative structures to create their episodic body of work, ‘the memory series’.
From directing music videos to scoring a play, slowdanger transforms its shape to adapt to a variety of different containers. slowdanger’s performance work has been featured across the states in venues ranging from proscenium theater settings and galleries to nightclubs and dive bars.
Both Anna and Taylor have started their professional careers at The Space Upstairs and have been heavily involved in a wide-range of projects at The Space Upstairs since 2010.
photography by Cassie Kay Rusnak
Artist in Residence
Kaylin Horgan began her dance training with Tammy Snyder at the young age of 2. She continued her dance education with facility at The Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts, and attended Point Park University, graduating with a BA in jazz dance.
As a member of Pearlann Porter’s Pillow Project, she traveled to Paris, London, Amsterdam and Dublin; performing with world renowned jazz musicians such as Moe Seager, Sabir Mateen, Rasul Siddik and Patrick Sadoc.
In 2010, she became a founding member and the Artistic Assistant of August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, directed by Greer Reed. During her 6 seasons with AWCDE, she worked with choreographers such as Kyle Abraham, Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Camille A. Brown, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Crystal Frazier, Christopher Huggins and Terence Greene.
She currently dances with AntonioBrownDance (NYC), is a member of Raelle Hodges’s Elephant Room (NYC), Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company (Kansas City, MO) and is a modern dance faculty member at Pittsburgh CAPA High School (Pittsburgh) .
Artist in Residence
Harbour (they/them) is a freelance lighting designer, installation artist and poet who is currently nested in the Pittsburgh area. In their lighting design Harbour has a passion for new and devised work that challenges and provokes current design theories and social issues. Although they design for a wide range of theatre, events and festivals; dance has always been their driving passion. Harbour received their BFA in Lighting Design from Point Park University in 2018, where they first worked with Pearlann Porter. Local companies they’ve designed dance for include The New Hazlett, City Theatre Company, Alumni Theater Company, Point Park Dance Conservatory, Shadyside Academy, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh and The Pillow Projects. Their first design at The Space Upstairs was (in person) in 2020.
In their installation work, Harbour leaves the lighting console and explores space and soul in a more tactile way. They strive to create environments that hold a moment in time safe enough to question constructs around identity and social status. With the use of technology and reactive environments they aim to constantly remind the audience that their presence is what makes meaningful and impactful art possible.
Harbour also holds a residency as a Lighting Designer at Alumni Theater Company and works as a Production Assistant at City Theatre Company during their producing season.