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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Pillow Project’s Backlit in a Whole New D

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 11:33 AM

The dance troupe made a strong showing this past weekend with the latest in its Backlit in a Whole New D performance series. It was meant mostly as just a fun show, and it delivered: Largely improvised, with the dancers working variations off a few set poses and moves, Backlit was fresh, sexy and unpredictable.

Artistic director Pearlann Porter’s touchstone is jazz dance, and indeed the soundtrack was jazzy instrumental music by The Beastie Boys. But there's nothing academic or even especially old-school about the company's take on it. The three men and two women worked seamlessly through a series of vignettes, some more theatrical, some abstract, and engaging all the way through.

The “Whole New D” aspect was a little sketchy. The show, lit largely from the side, was supposed to take on a trippy extra dimension once you donned the free 3D glasses. But the 3D effect was tough to discern and most people didn’t bother with the glasses. One problem was that Porter likes staging low-light performances. While that’s hindered other shows of hers I’ve seen, it worked here — but only if you didn’t wear the glasses, which turned the dancers into shadows.

Meanwhile, the Pillow Project’s attractions continues to include its unique space, and what Porter’s done with it. The loft-style venue dubbed The Space Upstairs, basically tucked into the rafters of Construction Junction, was several years back reconfigured into a high-ceilinged lounge, complete with sofas and a donation-only bar. It’s just the right combination of living-room and concert hall. Between the twice-nightly Backlit shows this past weekend, a drummer played live on a riser behind the bar, where Porter herself ably crafted teeny-tiny martinis.

You can check the scene out yourself on Feb. 9, when the Pillow Project continues its Second Saturdays series. Second Saturdays combines live and DJ’d music, improvised dance, visual art and multimedia elements. In Porter’s stead (she’s off to Paris for a bit), the show will be hosted by Zëk Stewart.

Second Saturdays runs 8 p.m. to midnight Sat., Feb. 9, at 214 N. Lexington Ave., in Point Breeze. The suggested donation is $10.

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