A Look Back at STAYCEE PEARL dance project with Jessica Marino / by Kitoko Chargois | PearlArts Studios

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Catch us Friday, Nov. 17 at Ace Hotel as we celebrate 7 years of STAYCEE PEARL dance project (SPdp) and Soy Sos with interim: THROWBACK! We'll be performing excerpts of several of our pieces from throughout the years including FLOWERZ, CirclePop, ...on being…., encryption cipher, Playground, and ABBEY: In the Red. Click here for event details and ticketing information. We sat down with longtime SPdp dancer Jessica Marino to talk about the show as well as her experience dancing with SPdp. Jessica has been with STAYCEE PEARL dance project since 2011.

What can people expect to see at Friday’s performance?
They can expect to see a taste of what we were living over the course of the last seven years. The work that we do is very often inspired by something that is happening at that time in that moment so it’s kind of like going back in time and touching on some of these topics that were really important to us across this span of time. Come out, have a good time with us because we’re fun people and let’s just celebrate the last seven years of important work--not just because it’s important to us, but because it’s important that we share it with you

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6 years is a long time, How have you grown as a dancer within STAYCEE PEARL dance project?
I feel like my artistic voice has been able to grow within my experience here. I met Staycee at a time where I was just really starting out and she’s been a pinnacle part of me growing as an artist. She’s really great about giving us material and letting us take the time to investigate it for ourselves, and then she takes it and curates it from there in several of our processes. Being able to have that opportunity is something that I really am grateful for.

Take us back to you first day dancing for Staycee Pearl. What was that like?
We were working on Octavia at the time. I just remember walking into the studio, and seeing a cast of seven really strong beautiful women, doing really fierce choreography that they had already been working on for several months and trying to jump in and keep up. I just remember feeling like-Oh my God, I gotta keep up and I really gotta get it together and learn this material quickly and keep my technique in check. I just remember feeling excited, but anxious, but also inspired to get better so I could fit in.

To date, what has been your favorite production and why?
That’s a really tough question because another thing that I really appreciate about doing Staycee’s work is that it all feels very different as far as the process is concerned. I really enjoyed the opportunity to revisit on being as a duet. ...on being... was a work that we did that focused on a conversation about Post blackness. At the time it was a term that was being used in a lot of academic settings referring to this post civil rights time period but what we discovered through that process is that when talking about identity and race, we also were talking about other ways that people identify so sexuality or gender and even religious--really it uncovered a lot of conversations about who or how we identify ourselves. So it was a socio-political work because we were talking about these topics. Revisiting it gave us an opportunity to really dive back into the material and spend more time with it and that’s really the only work we’ve done that with, that I’ve been able to go back and like reinvestigate through that material to present it again. I would say that was really fulfilling.

Has revisiting these pieces for interim: THROWBACK dredged up any old memories?
One thing is I’m getting to perform something that Staycee had done before I joined the company, so that’s cool. But I’m also getting the opportunity to see other artists perform material that I had performed that I’m not actually doing this time around. So I’m realizing certain moments that I hold really precious and letting that go and letting the artist investigate the work how they choose to has been a good exercise in letting go and letting things evolve how they do. But also I’m really enjoying how the artists are approaching it and how it’s different.

What’s one thing that people don’t know about SPdp?
That Staycee Pearl has an online shopping fetish that allows us to have new costumes for almost every show that we do. Well that’s an exaggeration because she doesn’t only shop online, but she’s really good at finding a good deal too.

STAYCEE PEARL dance project throughout the years. Watch the video below for a sneak peek of the works we'll be performing.