KST interviews Staycee Pearl


SPdp at KST in July 2010


Staycee Pearl, artistic director and founder of Staycee Pearl dance project, was featured at KST’s newMoves Contemporary Dance festival in May 2010.  Soon after, she and her new company began a year-long residency in the theater. Staycee returns to perform at KST on November 19 & 20, 2010 to debut “Circle POP,” a multimedia dance experience. Staycee took some time to speak with KST’s education director, Maritza Mosquera, about the show and her experience in the theater.

MM: I’ve been watching some clips, reading your bio and thinking about our meeting last week and I think what I keep coming back to is circle POP..the name, great  name.. where did it come from?

SP: circle POP came from the broad idea of wanting to add my voice to the many artist who make some sort of commentary on our culture – our popular culture. At least that’s the POP part. circle refers to the cyclical nature of culture – and cycles in nature, etc.

I’ve seen several artists respond to our world today from a mostly negative perspective; I understand that, but I wanted to be more neutral and lean towards what is good and maybe not so serious.

I often deal with that serious place. circle POP is also trying to express some of that complexity.. Our world – our American culture, it’s complex.

MM: Your voice; I am very interested in talking about it, interested in hearing it and seeing it, especially knowing that your input is one of nature and positive, human thinking? How did it get choreograph some of these ideas into the work, what happened?

SP: Well, for me, it’s mostly about the thought – the over-all feeling I’m going for when I get into the studio to make the work. Occasionally, I’ll turn on music that takes me to that place – that positively yummy place – and work some things out before meeting with the dancers. But usually, I have descriptions, feelings of what I want to communicate, and the movement comes out of that place. The dancer’s personalities also inform the actual movement choices.

For circle POP, I’ve worked a bit far as the collaborators are concerned. I’ve let go of some of my control freakishness and let these fabulous artists do what they do. But with the dance, I am now at the point of clarifying by getting rid of what isn’t absolutely necessary and making what’s left tighter. It’s important to me that the concept is there, although it may become extremely abstract.

MM: for circle POP you collaborated with Artist, husband, friend Herman Pearl; can tell us what attracted you to collaborate with him and an insight into that process


MM: wow, great? or wow bad?

SP: Wow GREAT!!  Great question.
I don’t even know where to start!
OK, Herman is one of the most thorough artist I’ve ever met.
He gets my aesthetic.
We both have a tendency to over work things at first – but then we know how to pull back, or when to simply indulge in the lushness.
When he’s the lead, he can be so clear about what he is looking for.
When I lead, sometimes he is the final component, after choreography, video, etc. He has usually been present throughout and has ideas about what he wants to hear happen, then he consults me to get the specifics of what I may want. Finally, he gives it all back to me complete, and the highest quality possible. No short cuts. No questioning the level of artistry or clarity of sound.

I envy his energy – which is what attracted me to him in the first place. He’s such a challenge. It pushes me to do more and better in everything, especially my art.
The man can run day in and out!
It’s just CRAZY!
He makes appointments for 8 am, 10 – 11 pm, and every hour in between!

I feel very fortunate to have him as a partner in life and art.

MM: You’ve worked with KST for several years, tell me about the energy it brings to your work and where you see the relationship leading to?

SP: I’ve done so much work at the Kelly-Strayhorn and I’m very fortunate to have the chance to begin my work with Staycee Pearl dance project there. They’ve afforded me the time and resources to really get things off the ground. To explore concepts and movement – to just play.

To answer your question more specifically, I feel at home in the Kelly-Strayhorn.

It’s warm, the staff is passionate and hard working. When my collaborators, dancers and I are there, we get that energy.

I remember when I first walked in the theater back in 2001, I was planning an evening-length show. This was before I knew anyone! Before working with any other dance company here in town – fresh off the plane from NYC. I was so excited about the space, and remember telling the director, I think it was Bob Neu, that the stage was “perfect for dance”.

Staycee’s Collaborators:
Carolina Loyola-Garcia – Video design
Herman Pearl – Sound
Kelly Simpson-Scupelli / Kelly Lane Designs – costumes
Bob Stineck – lighting design
Mitchel Addlespurger – set development

Kerra Alexander
Cassie Shafer
Jamie Murphy
Amanda Varva
Renee Smith
Laura Warren
Daphne Driscoll

Guest Performers:
Lisa Belcher
Gwen Ritchie

Guest Youth Performers (ATC Members):
Shakira Stephens
Micheal Curry
Robert Almond
DeVaughn Robinson

The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater is proud to support Staycee Pearl as an artist-in-residence.  To purchase tickets, visit

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