With 65 years and 135 dances under his belt, Jerry Pearson could easily rest on his laurels. Instead, the UCSB dance professor and former director of Santa Barbara Dance Theater is pushing forward and preparing to present his most personal work to date. Next Thursday, May 15, Pearson returns to the Lobero Theatre for Body of Work, a one-man performance piece that finds the choreographer reflecting on his life journey as an artist.
Begun as a retrospective review for his UCSB high-ups, Body of Work quickly morphed from a functional tool to a fully-staged performance piece, complete with video, music, dance, and spoken-word elements. Earlier this year, Pearson traveled overseas to present Body of Work for audiences in Ireland, England, and New Zealand. Still, he says, this week’s show at the Lobero is a major milestone for the piece.
“I’m looking forward to being able to fill a theater that’s a little bit bigger,” said Pearson. “It’s a very interesting part of performing to me, that ability to expand into a space. It’s a very satisfying feeling when the size of one’s passion for something can properly fill a venue. And when you can do the larger ones, it feels good.”
As for what he hopes attendees take away from the show, Pearson is quick to offer up the universal nature of Body’s message. “It’s about questioning and understanding what ‘home’ means, and finding that resting point,” he said. “I think there’s an aspect of that core passion — that there’s a certain voice that wants to be heard in all of us. The first memory I have of that voice was when I was 12 and I would pretend I was conducting Beethoven’s symphonies. I would get so involved with the movement of it that I would jump up on the couch or roll on the floor. I was dancing, and I didn’t know I was dancing. That idea of generating energy that’s inspired by music is exactly the same thing I feel now. And that span of my life, from a 12-year-old to a professor 65-year-old, is a journey and odyssey that’s continuing.”
Jerry Pearson presents Body of Work at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Thursday, May 15, at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for tickets and info.