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The Pillow Project's Summer Intensive Studies at The Space Upstairs are immersive training programs for the serious movement artists seeking an investigative, individualized approach to dance outside of the pressures of commercial or traditional academic institutions. Through a curriculum rooted in the company's movement method THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION™, exploratory labs, and guest teaching artists , we hone the craft of distinct movement, rigorously challenging students to challenge themselves before each others’ witness in a dynamic and creative studio atmosphere. A select and limited enrollment into this intensive three-week program allows for dedicated instruction to cultivate the instincts of each individual artist, compelling students to discover and develop their own voices through the medium of dance.


This approach to professional dance training addresses a student’s own curiosities into how they want to grow as an artist, inciting them to find new ways of imagining their role and responsibility as an artist in society.  Our tailored attention provides the opportunity to collaborate with new artists of mixed mediums; to actively observe and interact with the world in which they create; to innovate, expand, and clearly communicate their unique vision and authentic voice; and to tear down imagined limits as we take risks together as performers, visual musicians, and expressive composers of our time.


It is our responsibility as artists to tirelessly question ‘what is dance?’, ‘who is a dancer?’, and ‘where can dance be found?’



MAY 13 - JUNE 1, 2024


This 3-week immersive professional training program (containing 100+ hours of classes , sessions and studies) has been developed to foster an informed physical awareness, a committed personal practice, and a conscious curiosity in the hands-on experience of creating and engaging in professional work. 


The daily schedule Mondays-Saturdays will include:

  • 2 hours of technique, body organization, and physical conditioning

  • 2 hours of focused work in THE ELLIPSIS CONDITION™ improvisational studies

  • 90 minutes of daily practical labs in video projection, site-specific performance, dance-for-the-camera, pedagogy for Improvisation, poetic communication, grant writing for the arts, musicality, Luminography video projection work, and company repertoire 

  • Monday through Thursday 10am-4pm, Friday and Saturday 5pm-11pm at The Space Upstairs



  • Tuition for the full 3-week program is $800

  • 50% tuition due March 31, 2024  /  full tuition due April 30, 2024

  • There are no refunds after April 10, 2024

  • Housing is not provided



Enrollment to the program is strictly limited to 16 artists between the ages of 18-26

  • There is no application fee

  • Applications accepted February 13, 2024 through midnight March 10, 2024

  • Early applications are strongly suggested

  • All students must be able to participate in all three weeks of the program to be considered

All interested artists should apply by sending the following to :


1)  A written personal artist statement expressing what most excites you about dancing and why you want to train at with The Pillow Project at The Space Upstairs: What are the mindsets and attitudes you believe would nurture the kind of collective to which you would want to belong? What is a specific goal that you want to accomplish during your time at The Space Upstairs? Example: instead of saying ‘I want to become a better dancer’, identify what you believe will contribute to making you a better dancer. (ie: working on your improvisational vocabulary; learning to be a better witness to others in class, being able to write and speak more thoughtfully about your work, etc.)


2)  An online link (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) to a recent video sample (2-4 minutes) of solo improvised movement with any music of your choosing. This video sample can be recorded informally with a phone or computer from any location, and must be submitted without any edits or filters/effects applied to the footage. 


Pearlann Porter (Program Director, Principle Teaching Artist)

Pearlann holds a BFA in Dance from Point Park University (‘99) and has 20+ years of professional teaching experience at Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts in Postmodern-Jazz Improvisation, Jazz and Modern Technique, Modern Repertoire, Contact Improvisation, and Choreography. While on faculty, she has created over 20+ original works on the students of the dance department. 


She is the Founding Artistic Director of The Pillow Project, responsible for a countless number of small and large scale performances, films, and events.  She is one half of the artistic partnership The Ellipses Condition with poet John Lambert, and is Founding Director of The Space Upstairs (est 2006), where she is a full-time Resident Artist and the regular host/creator of the long-running Second Saturdays (est. 2007) jazz-happenings. She has held artist residencies and/or created original work for GroundWorks Dance Theater, Dance Alloy Theatre, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Xpressions Contemporary Dance Company, Slippery Rock University, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, LABCO Dance, and TEDxGrandviewAve. She has toured her ideas in dance, improvisation and site-specific performance with The Pillow Project to New York City, Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Dublin. 


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), and Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the 'Burgh (2013, 2018). In 2005, her dance-for-the-camera work “Everywhere at Once” was selected for the Crossroads Film Festival. Pearlann and her work with The Pillow Project have had featured presentations on WQED-TV, KDKA-TV, and WQED-FM. She has been seven-times nominated for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award, and was a recent 2020 recipient of the Investing In Professional Artists grant awarded by The Pittsburgh Foundation/Heinz Endowments for the ongoing creative development of her latest concept-work (in person) blending improvography and spoken-word.


Pearlann is a life-long improvisational performing artist, a visual-conductor, a physical-poet, an experimental projection designer, a passionate investigator of new ideas in dance, and an instigator of authentic physical expression. 

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