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🗣 Locals to Know: Meet Staycee Pearl and Soy Sos, dance innovators

Staycee and Herman Pearl headshots. Herman is a white man with grey stubble and Staycee is a black woman with abundant natural hair and clear glasses.

Today’s Locals to Know keep their organization’s calendar full with dance classes, showcases and collaborations: meet Staycee and Herman “Soy Sos” Pearl, founders of PearlArts. Staycee and Soy Sos, as well as the artists they support, use dance to explore identity and social issues while pushing the boundaries of the artform to include immersive sound experiences and striking visual elements. Take it away, Pearls!

PearlArts does more than just stage dance performances — tell our readers what makes you different!

PearlArts is a dance-focused arts organization based in Pittsburgh that also provides music and media arts programming. We offer artistic experiences through creative residencies, innovative collaborations, and a broad range of dance and sound education and outreach opportunities. PearlArts supports a cohort of Black cultural organizations in a self-determined process aimed at achieving their goals that may both lead them to long-term and measurable success and concurrently position them for broader regional and national support.

PearlArts is the creative parent organization for STAYCEE PEARL dance project & Soy Sos and Tuff Sound Recording. SPdp&SS exists to celebrate and explore the full range of Blackness and culture through dynamic dance-centered performances and experiences… Under [our] leadership, SPdp&SS produces programming around compelling concepts and themes driven by socio-political world issues. SPdp&SS also creates engaging works inspired by celebrated legendary and contemporary artists of the African Diaspora.

What’s your favorite Pittsburgh memory?

Too many to mention. We make amazing memories all the time. Our most recent time at CMOA during our Inside Out performance/party featuring sound and movement from CIRCLES was epic. Magical.

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Udipi Indian Cafe. Everything they serve.

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.

Kelly Strayhorn Theater. CRUSH STEEL: TuffSound and SecretStudios. Carnegie Museum of Art.

What’s your favorite local social media account to follow and why?

Brian Broome on Facebook.

If you could give any one piece of advice to locals, what would it be?

Support local artists and culture. Go see local live art.

Dancers in colorful chiffon contort their bodies in beams of purple and red light.

How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do?

Affordable space. Seriously, though.There’s a great network of like-minded artists and arts organizations [in Pittsburgh]. The community at large is very supportive and loyal, and creative space is still relatively inexpensive. There’s a totally good, giving and game funding ecosystem committed to supporting the arts, and there is brain space and time to create, unlike some cities where the competition for everything has you hustling around with little time to pause, reflect, and recharge.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about the city?

Primanti Bros. sandwiches are not great, and their fries are soggy.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Getting back to regular touring, commissions and exciting projects.

You can follow PearlArts on Instagram at @pearlartsstudios, see their dance work at @staycee_pearl_and_soy_sos or follow Soy Sos’s sound engineering at @soysostuffsoundrec.

Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Send us an email to hello@theincline with the subject line “Incline Locals to Know,” and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!