Managing Editor and NYC Curator Kathryn Yu catches up with Tom Pearson, one of the Artistic Directors of Third Rail Projects (Then She Fell, The Grand Paradise, Ghost Light, Behind the City) in New York City as the company prepares to launch a new show in DC, Confection. They discuss the creation of Then She Fell, its influence on immersive creators, as well as Tom’s work as an immersive educator, as a poet with The Sandpiper’s Spell, as a documentary film producer on Between Yourself and Me, and also with TRP’s Global Performance Studio in Russia and China. (Tom also hints at an upcoming Third Rail Projects’ show that is currently in development and planned to premiere in late 2019.)
Today's guest is Tom Pearson. Tom is the co-founder/co-artistic director of Third Rail Projects and the director of the Global Performance Studio, an international program for cultural listening and exchange. He has received two New York Dance and Performance (BESSIE) Awards, and is best known for his movement-based theater works, including the long-running Then She Fell and The Grand Paradise.
It’s immediately clear that Tom Pearson and Zach Morris of Third Rail Projects take great pleasure in their work and that the personal bond between them creates an atmosphere of trust and courage that nourishes their entire artistic team. The dancer-choreographers spoke with me today about their partnership, their creative process and “Vanishing Point,” a new presentation at Danspace Project (June 26-28).BIOSTOM PEARSONTom Pearson works in a variety of media. Each work introduces its own movement and/or visual vocabulary, defined by the parameters of the subject and performance environment. Pearson’s work ranges from the surreal to the absurd, and part of his creative project includes an examination of American Indian identity in urban situations and everyday circumstances. Through the lens of a contemporary movement vocabulary, he creates dense, evocative worlds that illuminate the transient and the transformational, using movement abstracted from and coupled with everyday action. Paired with this is a fierce percussive abandon, often complimented by meditative nuance. Likewise, Pearson uses art installation to achieve rich, multi-dimensional environments, and site-specific explorations seek to mine public spaces for hidden meaning and to capture and engage unwary and uninitiated passersby.Tom Pearson has been commissioned to create original site-specific works as part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s SiteLines series, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York, and American Express’s River to River Festival; by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for the 2006 Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival; and by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation for the SWIRE ISalnd East Urban Dance Festival 2007. His work has been presented in New York by Dixon Place; La Mama E.T.C.; with The Thunderbird Indian Dancers at Theater for the New City; Dance Theater Workshop; Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church; The New York International Fringe Festival; the D.U.M.B.O. Dance Festival; The Bridge for Dance; and Crazy Cuban Productions/Dance Space Center. Pearson has been supported by creative residencies at LMCC’s MOVE:133 Beekman in space generously provided by General Growth Properties, Inc.; the Great Neck House, Great Neck, NY; by a Harkness Space Grant from the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center; Dance Theater Workshop’s Outer/Space program at Topaz Arts; Epiphany Theater Company; and as part of The Swarthmore Project at Swarthmore College, PA.Tom Pearson is Co-Artistic Director of Third Rail Projects and frequently collaborates with the other members of Third Rail on joint ventures. He received his M.A. in Performance Studies from New York University, his B.F.A. in Dance and B.A. in English from Florida State University. He has taught as an Adjunct Professor of Dance at the Florida School of the Arts; as a movement instructor for Opera Workshop at LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and the Performing Arts (through New York City Opera's Arts-in-Education program); as the Dance Program Coordinator at the award-winning LEVELS teen center in Long Island; and as a part of several other high school and special interest programs and through master classes at Swarthmore College and Florida State University. Pearson's writings on dance have been published in Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, Time Out New York Kids, and Uncoolkids.com.ZACH MORRISZach Morris believes that art should be fun. He also believes it should be well-crafted, engaging and have some meat to it. Most of all, Zach believes that art is a means to an end–a meditative discipline and an on-going investigation of the human condition utilizing a communicative system of images, juxtapositions and metaphors that resonate on a fundamental, intuitive level. As such, he is deeply interested in exploring themes and relationships that illuminate the broader patterns of human experience. He is fascinated with evoking archetypal images and