In its first three seasons, The Pillow Project made a name for itself with large-scale dance shows that fell somewhere between music video and rock opera. While such shows as The Concept Album Tour and Striped were a hit with Generation Y audiences, this season founder and artistic director Pearlann Porter decided to broaden the company's audience with an artistic reinvention.
"This is really the first step in becoming the all-encompassing multimedia company I envisioned The Pillow Project to be," says Porter. "We cannot rely anymore on just marketing ourselves as a dance company. We have to prove our wits in other arenas."
Another impetus for the change is the company's new residency at Point Breeze's Construction Junction, where the company has taken over a 4,000-square-foot gallery loft that it will use as both studio and performance space, and where it will present its latest project, the season-long By Volume.
The show's theme is human connection and collaboration. Within it, all the facets of The Pillow Project that audiences are familiar with will be represented in each of its four chapters. "We are just shifting the spotlight onto a different element each time," says Porter.
On June 8 and 9, By Volume kicks off with Volume I: Characters, showcasing the work of Shawn "Moze" Mozolak, the paint-and-canvas artist in the company's current line-up of seven dancers. The troupe (which includes two apprentices) boasts three video artists, two photographers and a graphic designer.
In Characters, 15 of Moze's paintings depicting human and nonhuman entities will be presented in a gallery-style showing. "I started out learning to draw by copying what I saw in comic books," says Moze. "Growing up in the '80s, I really loved the Pop Art of Liechtenstein and Warhol. I think of my style now as being graphically influenced fine art."
Volume I also includes a photography exhibit by Mara Roth; "swank jazz" music by The Elliot Roth Trio; a video montage by Pillow Project art and design director Ryan Hose; and the first installment of "Miscellaneousity," an improvisational dance work performed in collaboration with percussionist PJ Roduta.
Although seating is scaled down to 50 per show, fans of Porter's "see the music" choreography will still get their fix, this time up close and from all angles.
"We are losing the concept of 'front,'" says Porter. The dance performances, which will repeat on the hour, will all be danced in the round.
By Volume continues with Volume II -- Projected (Aug. 31 and Sept. 1), with a focus on video; Volume III -- A Certain Point of View (Oct. 12 and 13) centers on dance; and The Epilogue (December) will showcase the company's illustration and design artists.
"This is a totally new way of presenting our company," says Porter. "In some ways it is like starting over again."
The Pillow Project presents By Volume: Volume 1 -- Characters 7 p.m.-midnight. Fri., June 8, and 7 p.m.--midnight Sat., June 9. Construction Junction, 214 N. Lexington Ave., Point Breeze. $5. 412-225-9269 or www.pillowproject.org