Pittsburgh dancer and choreographer, Staycee Pearl, says that she and her company have been “gypsies” long enough.
Like many local artists, she has used various rehearsal and performance spaces wherever and whenever they were available. But as a veteran in the dance community, it was time for her to have her own place. And as she says, to also “pay it forward.”
Pearl has been fortunate enough (and talented enough) to forge relationships with studios and theaters around the city, like the Dance Alloy and the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, where she is a resident artist. Those places, and others, have given her space over the years, in exchange for performing at their venue. Now, Pearl can do the same for today’s emerging choreographers.
Her “Artist-in-Residence” program does just that. The new space, on Braddock Avenue in Point Breeze, has been open since March. Dancers chosen are given 12 weeks to work on their project, with up to 10 hours a week of free studio space. Special consideration is given to multi-media work and collaborations. On February 8th, Beth Ratas and Maree ReMalia will present what they have worked on during their residency, in an informal showing at the Pearl Arts Studio. Click HERE for details.
In addition, the studio is holding ongoing company classes and special workshops. Regular classes are held on Monday and Friday, from 9:00-10:15 a.m., and are open to the public. Right now, ballet is taught on Mondays. And a special technique, called Gaga, is taught on Fridays. Gaga is a flowing style created by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin. Classes are $8. Click HERE for details.
Perhaps the most exciting event at the studio is Pearl’s “Salon Series.” She came up with the idea while working on her latest dance, “...on being.” The piece was inspired by the notion of blackness and post-blackness in America, and two books in particular: Who’s Afraid of Post Blackness and How to be Black. In working on the choreography, Pearl found discussion to be a vital part of the process.
She explains, “We decided we wanted a conversation, not just a performance of movement. At the salon series, we show an excerpt and talk about questions I have for the community and audience.” The company then uses the feedback to generate choreographic material. She says the conversations are always frank, but never heated. After the piece premieres (February 22nd & 23rd at the KST), she will definitely keep the series going. Click HERE for details of the next salon, and HERE for show information.
In a day and age where dance is thriving, but funding is not, a space like the Pearl Arts Studio is essential in the community. Pearl’s new space gives her the freedom to work at her own pace, but also allows for newer artists to get their dancing feet on the ground.
Check out a class, a salon discussion, or a performance to reap the creative benefits flowing from this newer, but staple studio.