On Stage: Remembering at the Pillow

Photo by Cassie Kay PhotographyThe older I get, the more memories I have to categorize in my mind. So it is with great anticipation and a bit of trepidation that I will watch Pearlann Porter’s latest mind-tripping adventure for the Pillow Project, “Paper Memory,” about a writer finding a story…or a story finding a writer.


It may be familiar territory to this writer, but Pearlann always has a twist. Like “thoughts go on without us. Ideas we haven’t had yet already exist someplace, just waiting to be found.”

It could be a variation on the tree falling in the forest. But, no, Pearlann is leaving that up to the viewer. She wants to talk about the process. The show itself will go for more than six weeks, from Oct. 9 to Nov. 20. Now we all know that one of the major attractions for dance is its ability to exist in the moment, how it changes from day to day.

But Pearlann is taking it one step further. The run is extended not only because the physical set-up will result in a reduced number of seats, but because of her process, where “the show never stops evolving.” So the final rehearsal was not the final rehearsal.

“Ideas will change and morph,” she hints during her machine gun patter. “Something might be added to P.J. Roduta’s soundtrack. I might become a part of the show.”

Literally, then.

“If people come to the beginning of the run and then come later in the run, they will have a memory of what the show used to be as opposed to what it has evolved into,” she continues. So the story will be the same, as will the concepts, main themes and much of the “visualization.” But the show itself will constantly evolve.


This is the first time she’s calling herself a director and not even mentioning choreography. That’s because her trio of dancers has been working intensively on a new idea of jazz playing the body as an instrument. She “coached” them on method and philosophy as opposed to choreography.

“I had an interesting opportunity with this work to not set choreography because then they would feel compelled to do my steps every night,” Pearlann explains. “Then if they’re not doing my steps, my role is diminished. But because I’m directing it, I’m telling them the conept of the story, the feel of it, where it goes, what has to happen. I let them move thru it loosely based on thematic ideas that we come up with collaboratively.”

And in the end…but wait, will there ever be a definitive end? Will “Paper Memory” continue to exist on its own? Says Pearlann, physical poet extraordinaire, “It’s like a memory that you don’t remember having, but it’s still there.”

For more information, go to Listings.

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