Photo credit: Jessica Walker
The concept of pearling, to give a succinct definition, is to create living art spontaneously and situationally through the medium of partnered dance. The purpose of pearling is to propagate something of appreciable value through a very natural yet rather disruptive act.
We coined the term “pearling” in a rather circuitous way. Shortly after we had forged our partnership, and we were exploring where we wanted to take it and what we wanted to do with it, we naturally had to discuss various philosophies and ideas and draw on other entities to help define our own. We realized that what we were attempting was a bit like parkour, a sport that sees and embraces any environment as a playground of benign obstacles to be creatively traversed. With our dancing, as with parkour, the world truly is one's proverbial oyster. Naturally, that led to a discussion of oysters and the process by which they create their pearls. A grain of sand or other foreign object becomes lodged in the oyster's shell. As it irritates the oyster's flesh, the oyster secretes a hardening substance called nacré, with which it coats the irritant in an effort to quell the agitation. The interesting problem is that making a pearl doesn't get rid of the irritant, it embraces it and allows it to take a greater and greater space in the oyster's life and habitat. We found that was often exactly what happened when we started dancing in unexpected places - people would egg us on, beg us not to stop, spectators and musicians and bar managers would even invite us to dance closer and deeper into the room! We as agitators, two disruptive grains of sand, had perpetrated something of recognizable value that had not previously been there when we walked into the space.